Last week my internship with NOAA officially ended. It feels like if flew by in a matter of weeks not months.
What did you accomplish with your host organization? What was the impact of your work?
By the end of my internship, I wrote an extensive research paper containing the following: a comprehensive literature review on coastal and oceanic blue carbon, threats to blue carbon habitats, case studies of blue carbon analysis and restoration, market mechanisms to protect blue carbon, an assessment of the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary blue carbon sources, and recommendations for MPA managers to implement blue carbon work. My paper will be published in the Spring and will be the first article to summarize blue carbon work in this much detail and with recommendations.
I will also be presenting my paper and results to the Sanctuary Advisor Council in October to help inform them of the importance of blue carbon. I hope my presentation galvanizes the council to expand blue carbon work and consider habitats within their future policy decisions.
Describe the benefits of this experience for you professionally and personally?
This internship allowed me to integrate multiple different subject matters into one cohesive project. I worked with a variety of different policy makers, research scientists, and managers to gain a better understanding of different habitat types, threats, and market mechanisms. I personally believe thinking critically about issues from multiple field views is vital for success in any field. I got to practice this skill firsthand in a professional setting that I will forever be grateful for.
Personally, I have always found it extremely difficult to cold email people asking questions or requesting interviews. In an online setting I had to get over my fear extremely quickly as I not only had to email people within my office I did not know but reach out to researchers and economists requesting information. People are very willing to talk about their work and answer any questions your have. In this way, my internship helped me personally to get over this fear and professionally by expanding my knowledge base and connecting me with professionals in other fields.
Did your experience provide any unexpected discovery, self-reflection, or epiphany?
At the end of my internship I discovered this: ecosystem-based management (EBM) is the key! I was not expecting this result when I started reading piles of papers on blue carbon and management practices. As I kept reading, there was always a common thread that everything is connected (cheesy, I know) but in order to expand carbon sequestration and storage, all linkages in an ecosystem must be accounted for. I found this personally to be very exciting because ecosystem-based management is very interesting to me and I think it is an aspect of management that must always be included. Based on the final chapter of my paper on recommendations, I hope managers realize the value of (EBM) to protect habitats around the world. Without these vital carbon sinks, the impacts of climate change will continue to become more pervasive.