When two careers bump into each other

When two careers bump into each other

Being a librarian wasn't my first career choice. When I first went to college, I studied Range Management. My classes included several plant identification classes. I took "Grass Class," "Sticks and Twigs," and "Weeds" along with classes on livestock and a variety of other topics.

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service hired me and sent me to Mullen, NE. I spent over ten years as a Rangeland Management Specialist, and I loved the plant aspect of the job. Several years later I moved to this end of the state and started working at the Scottsbluff Public Library. Surrounded by books, I realized it was possible to have two careers you love. One bad thing about working in the library is not being outside.

Occasionally I come across things that cross over between the two careers. Sometimes people bring plants to the library to have them identified. My first thought would be to take the plant to UNL Extension, but we do have plant identification books at the library, and they are simple to use. I was once asked about where to find information about old infrastructure that had been installed by the USDA. I knew the answer to that too.

You can take me out of the prairie but you can't take the prairie out of me. I had some drainage issues around my house in Gering, so I tore out the bluegrass lawn on that side of the house and planted the area to native grasses and wildflowers. It has taken a few years, but my prairie looks good and I haven't watered it in seven or eight years.

I planted my prairie to correct a drainage problem, but there are several reasons to consider using native plants in your yard. Is your water bill too high? After the first two or three years, native plants won't need water. Do you dread mowing? You only have to mow a buffalograss lawn a couple of times a summer. Not crazy about putting chemicals on your lawn? Native grasses don't need fertilizer. Are you worried about the bees? Many native flowers provide pollinator habitat, and they are pretty too. Native grasses turn yellow and red in the fall instead of grayish brown, so they are attractive even throughout the winter.

Native lawns grow differently than our cultivated ones, so your grass won't green up in March like your neighbors, but you won't be mowing from April to October either. They do require a different kind of upkeep however, so don't think of them as maintenance-free.

If you are curious to learn more about how I planted my bluegrass lawn to native grasses, I will be at the North Platte NRD's Water Expo-Family Fun Day on Saturday, August 12 from 9:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m. Stop by the Gering Library table and I will be happy to chat with you about my experience. I'll have a slide show and some handouts for the adults. We'll also have a craft for the kids. Oh, and we will have books on plant identification and natural landscaping you can look at too! I am always excited for an opportunity to use my native plant knowledge at my library job, so come by and visit me at the NRD.