I have formally completed my time with the Environmental Defense Fund this Summer. It was incredible and fulfilling work, all of which I feel proud to have been a part of. I am especially thankful to the CBE for supporting me throughout this experience.
What did you accomplish with your host organization? What was the impact of your work?
During my internship with EDF I managed a diversity of tasks, which included: (a) provide support as a bilingual facilitator in the 3-part Latin America Technologies Dialogues (Diálogos de Tecnología) that brought together stakeholders to share their success and challenges in fisheries management in the Latin America; (b) contribute to content editing in a working-volume about the Distribution Patterns of Pelagic Resources in The Humboldt Current System; (c.) draft a blog piece about the importance of accelerating the integration and use of technologies to strengthen Latin American fisheries against climate change–which took many lessons from the summer Technology Dialogues. My principal role, however, was to work with the Oceans Humboldt team in Latin America. With partnership of the fisheries agencies of Chile, Peru, and Ecuador I accomplished the early developments of the first ever ocean observing systems (OOS) framework for the Humboldt region.
In my three months of work with the organization, I co-lead the creation of the oceanographic matrix that would serve as a benchmark for the OOS platform in the region, named SAPO “Sistema de Alerta, Predicción, y Observación, which looks to provide stakeholders with predictions and early warning systems that address fisheries management practices against climate change impacts in the Humboldt region. Developing this platform leads to increased collaboration in the Humboldt region to better manage the transboundary resources shared, which are economically important.
To support this goal, my work consisted of successfully integrating the various scientific variables and oceanographic metrics available from Peru, Chile and Ecuador in order to help identify the gaps in knowledge about the region’s ocean monitoring capacity. My efforts led to an integrated overview of the ocean monitoring platforms that are active in the Humboldt Current (HC), which provides better picture of the current state in ocean monitoring. This work will serve as reference to EDF and partners developing the SAPO platform as they can refer to the assembled research and matrix to assess their current state in ocean monitoring capacity in the HC and make plans that help fill in the critical data gaps to make the SAPO OOS platform a reality.
Describe the benefits of this experience for you professionally and personally?
Through this experience, I have benefitted both professionally and personally. I got to develop my network and explore new work in fisheries management. While practicing my Spanish, I discovered that I could make improvements when giving project presentations, which led me to take the Spanish intercultural communicative competence course at MIIS this Fall.
Overall, it was a fruitful summer with many great works accomplished that put my skills and knowledge in environmental policy and science to the test. Because of this experience, I was further able to explore fisheries management job opportunities in my area and communicate my accomplishments this summer along with the skills I honed during my time at EDF. I recently had a job interview with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and I benefit immensely from immersing myself in fisheries management and oceanography research, which they found a perfect fit to the position. Since then, these experiences have provided me greater vision for the type of work that really motivates me and would like to involve myself in further.
Did your experience provide any unexpected discovery, self-reflection, or epiphany?
Reflecting on my experience with EDF, I discovered that although I very much enjoyed all the work I did and felt proud of my accomplishments toward ocean conservation and fisheries management, I did not enjoy being tied to a computer and also felt rather distanced from the essence of the work at hand. This realization led me to consider I would be better fit for positions that allow me to work in the field as well as in the office. In organizations such as USGS, FWC and U.S Fish and Wildlife Service I found myself better positioned with professional opportunities that offer more hands-on, local work in their efforts to translate science to policy in marine/aquatic resource management. This summer experience also really helped me gain a better sense of the subject matter I am most enthused to work on, managing marine wildlife distress issues and aquatic habitat conservation—although related to fisheries, is not quite so narrowly centered around it.
For now, as I prepare to start my last semester of classes at the Middlebury Institute, I am excited to learn new skills and take advantage of my current residence in Florida to explore new work that addresses marine wildlife distress issues in the state. This Autumn, I will be attending the University of Florida’s Manatee Research Symposium & Conferences and I hope to work with the Florida Springs Institute in monitoring and protection of water quality and the springs ecosystems.
Thank you again to everyone who supported me throughout the summer! :).