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Bees and blooms: A day of research and conservation at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

KVUE's Hannah Rucker spent the day with Sean Griffin, the director of science and conservation at Austin's Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

AUSTIN, Texas — When you think about springtime in Texas, it's hard not to think of the wildflowers that turn the sides of our highways into a rainbow of colors every year.

But what if your job was to research those flowers and other plants every day?

KVUE's Hannah Rucker had the pleasure of shadowing Sean Griffin, the director of science and conservation at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, for a day.

The center is a gorgeous stretch of more than 284 acres full of plants and species all native to Texas.

"My dream for many years has been to work in a place like this," Griffin said. "If I told my young self that I got to hang out in caves and look for snakes and catch bugs all day, I would be very happy."

It's a dream job that comes with a lot of hard work, countless hours of studying and long afternoons in the hot Texas sun. 

"We spend a lot of time in the field, especially in the spring and the fall. And when we do field work, it's really just go time all the time," Griffin said.

The workday started in the field by the bluebonnet patch to look for bees and butterflies to try to catch some for research. Griffin said it's all in the flick of the wrist. 

"It takes a while because identifying bees is really hard. We have about 900 species of bees in Texas alone [and] about 4,000 in the U.S.," Griffin said.

Next, Griffin took Rucker to a grassland area to identify plants – something that is done once or twice a year – and has been for the last 20 years.

"So, of course we look at them, but it's also important to feel them," Griffin told Rucker.

The wildflower center also has a nursery where visitors can purchase plants, a year-round wedding venue, a café and weekly events under the stars.

For more stories like this one, check out our Take This Job page.

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