When you are studying Forest Sciences at the University of Helsinki, Hyytiälä Forestry Field Station will become very familiar place for you. Each forestry student spends the first summer there on field courses which last nine weeks from June to August. After the summer, you can (or at least you should be able to) identify different Sphagnum species, measure different variables from trees, use chainsaw etc.
I spent the summer of 2015 in Hyytiälä on field courses. The following year I was lucky and got a summer job as a research assistant on SMEAR II station in Hyytiälä. The three-month-period included many different work tasks like measuring soil moisture, helping to build a new radar and creating new ICOS measuring plots. All in all, the summer was didactic, interesting… and mosquito rich. It was never lonely in the woods when there were hundreds of mosquitoes around. Unfortunately, the mosquitoes didn´t understand that I wanted to work alone…
In early June, this year, I found myself once again from Juupajoki ready to start my second summer as a research assistant in Hyytiälä. It was much easier to start working because I already knew the places and people. I even got the same room as last summer (which I consider the best one) and great roommates. There were two other summer workers besides me and in my opinion, we were a great team (hopefully they think the same…).
But, even though people and manners were almost the same as before, the work tasks were quite different from last summer. This time I had many works which recurred regularly. Some of them were done once a month, some every other week. It was great to have this kind of a timetable and almost every morning I knew what to do on that day. Of course, many of those tasks didn`t last an entire day and I had quite often many different things to do during the same day.
But what did I do then? Don´t worry, I won´t tell everything I did because that list is too long for one blog text. Instead I will describe some of the routine tasks that I did. One of them was collection of rainwater. There are seven water collectors near the SMEAR station and two little bottles on one tower. The water collectors are like gutters where water runs into a canister. Every other week I changed canisters and bottles and weighed the full ones. Then I took some samples and measured pH and electrical conductivity. The other samples were put into a freezer and will be send to Helsinki for analysis. And what was the highest rainfall during the summer? Well, 16 litres in one canister within two weeks.
Another routine task was litter collection which was done once a month. There are 20 collectors (which means big tubes with cloth bags) around the SMEAR station. Every month I changed the bags and collected all the litter which was inside. The litter was put into small paper bags (total 20 bags) and stayed in the oven for 24 hours. After that the bags were weighed and then started the hardest part: the litter was separated into needles, leaves, cones, bark and other stuff. These samples will be milled in the future and analysed.
Besides these two tasks I also did much more. For instance, I measured methane in the forest, carried timber planks on Siikaneva measuring site and cleaned some equipment on a float. These are just few examples. All in all, the summer included many different tasks and I learned once again a lot. Hyytiälä is also a great place to develop your social skills. There are people all over from Finland and the world during the summertime and I met many nice and interesting persons. Not only in Hyytiälä but also on every working place you need to be able to work with people of all kind.
Well, this was a little summary about my summer job. You may wonder what we summer workers did during the free time. There are many ways to spend your evenings in Hyytiälä. You can pick berries and mushrooms, go for a walk, swim, go for a row or just relax and watch tv or read some nice book. And these are just a few examples. Believe me, like the working days, the evenings went extremely fast too!
Here are some websites that may interest you and give more information:
Text: Henri Jokinen
Photos: Sini Salko