Isabel Lisle, UVM, Fall 2018
"I spent this past week in the field with 6 other incredibly positive, passionate, and quirky humans, all excited to search for frogs. We were investigating the endangered Hochstetter’s frog in the remote Maungatautari Ecological Reserve and how these frog populations respond to a pest free environment.
Each day, we woke up early to the chorus of birds singing outside our tents, slid on our boots, grabbed our equipment, and set off into the bush. The trees smelled rich and cool, emitting a sort of magic aura over the forest as we began our scavenger hunt. We scrambled across slippery rocks, stepped over rotting logs, and climbed through tangles of supplejack vines to get to the babbling streams where these cryptic frogs lived. We peered in hundreds of hiding places, thoroughly searching under each and every rock. Finding a frog became an impossible game of hide and seek, until the second day when one of us finally spotted one and shouts of delight could be heard across the entire valley. The small brown and green amphibians would triumphantly belly flop into the water, teasing us as we worked to estimate their size.
This week was challenging, it pushed us to our limits. Even so, the feeling of accomplishment and teamwork that washed over our group at the end of the week outweighed any battle scar. We learned the importance of map reading skills, communication, rigor, perseverance, dedication, and silliness. A week in the woods, without the distractions of social media drew our group together in a way that felt like family. I feel more connected than ever to New Zealand and the people around me."