Final Reflection on FKNMS Blue Star

Last week I presented my Needs Based Assessment report to NOAA sanctuary staff from both the Florida Keys office, sanctuaries across the US, and to headquarters staff. While somewhat nerve-wracking, it was truly incredible experience and had a very positive reaction by my audience, which solidified how meaningful my fellowship deliverables are to my host organization.

What did you accomplish with your host organization? What was the impact of your work?

The main accomplishment of my work with FKNMS was the development of my Needs Based Assessment, which concluded with both short-term and long-term recommendations to strengthen the Blue Star program. This allowed for invaluable insights of what is and isn’t working with the program, and what are the next steps that can be taken. My recommendations focused on challenges regarding Blue Star’s annual training, resources/materials, and overall public awareness of the program.

I was even able to act on some of these recommendations by reorganizing the existing annual training modules, incorporating more interactive plugins, creating a new quiz system, and adding a new module for important updates and ways to get involved. These were all recommendations requested by Blue Star affiliated partners that participated in the surveying, which demonstrated an immediate impact of my fellowship findings.

Describe the benefits of this experience for you professionally and personally?

This fellowship has truly been of the most meaningful experiences I have had in my professional. Not only has it fulfilled a dream of mine to work for a NOAA office, but I also observed the immediate of my work to a community who really does their best for the environment. I gained an incredible lifelong mentor through my supervisor, who was always willing to answer questions and introduce me to other NOAA staff members that align with my career goals. I can’t thank my supervisor enough for little things such as inviting NOAA headquarter staff to my presentation, so that I could see how wide of an impact my fellowship had on the Sanctuary Department.

And personally speaking, the Keys was beautiful and so inspiring for how much the people cared about the ocean. Regardless of if they worked for NOAA, or owned a dive shop, or fishing business, or was a concerned citizen. There was real participation and concern from all different stakeholders in such a real, current example that I would be lucky to continue to be a part of.

Did your experience provide any unexpected discovery, self-reflection, or epiphany?

Not necessarily an epiphany, but this fellowship did solidify my intentions of working for the federal government for ocean protection. That being said, it did expose me to the barriers that comes with an institution. From paperwork, photo releases, timelines, staff capacity, it’s difficult work. But also, very impactful and very necessary. I am excited for my future career, and hope that other incredible offices such as FKNMS will be a part of it.

Diving into Blue Star

At about the halfway mark of my fellowship with FKNMS, I was able to take a break from all the virtual meetings and actually visit Florida Keys in person! It was such an incredible experience not only to immersed into their office staff, but to explore the incredible nature the Keys had to offer.

One of my favorite parts of my office was all of the old posters!

While my primary task was to conduct in person interviews for my Needs Based Assessment, my supervisor also ensured that I got out into the field for some much-needed exploring. This included kayaking through the mangroves in the John Pennekamp State Park!

During my free weekend, I also got to explore special places throughout the keys, such as the Turtle Hospital in Marathon, FL. They do incredible work for rehabilitating, and in most cases releasing, sea turtles that have been impacted by boat strikes, marine debris, and water pollution.

On the last day of my trip, I attended the Sanctuary Advisory Council’s July meeting, which consisted of the announcing of the proposed policy framework: Restoration Blueprint. This was an invaluable experience for me, because it showed what real stakeholder engagement looks like and just how much of a process/timeline developing policy frameworks entail. I was truly grateful for the experience and how much my supervisor insisted I observe the process.


Hey everyone! Can’t believe it’s already the end of August! That means we’re getting close to time for the UN General Assembly. Most fellows are wrapping up their internships, but I will be staying on this campaign through the duration of the fall, until we introduce the proposal. So what have I been up to this month? My teammate Samia Shell and I have been busy conducting interviews with Pacific youth to start a blog series on why we need an Advisory Opinion on climate, and how climate change is impacting way of life in the Pacific. The blog series is in tandem with the social media campaign we are launching! You can read up on our first interview with Kabweea Itintaake, a Fellow with the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and States Attorney at the Office of the Attorney General in Kiribati, on our blog site. You can also read my piece on the 2022 Peace Palace Conference in June that focused on the intersection of climate and international law. I’ve also been working on a few internal projects for the campaign and have been excited to have the opportunity to dive into legal work.

My team has been wonderful to work with, and I’m excited to continue this project! It’s easy to get lost in the academics of climate, but having the opportunity to sit down with Pacific youth and listen to the very real issues communities around the world are facing has been a humbling experience. Most of us chose to pursue International Environmental Policy because we want to make a difference for communities around the world, so it’s always important to keep those communities and people in the forefront of your mind. We will be hosting a conference similar to the one at the Peace Palace in New York this fall, so I look forward to helping organize that. I’ll leave you all with this picture of the sunrise during one of my early morning meetings – the only downside to working on EST from here in Monterey!

Sunrise from my bedroom window! The view makes remote working much easier.

Hope you all have a happy rest of your summer!

Surfing For Change

The summer is flying by! The past few months have been such a blast working for the Wahine Project, as a surf instructor and marine educator. I feel incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to work here, among amazing staff members and campers that inspire me every day. As the weeks go by, I am seeing myself continue to grow as a surf instructor, educator, and as an individual. Not many people can say their office is the beach!!

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EDF Mid-Internship Update

Hello again! I am back with an internship update. I am actually nearly finished with my time at EDF this summer, but wanted to give a quick summary of what I am working on before I report back with a post-internship review. 

I am currently working on my final deliverables. They have been a work in progress throughout my internship, but I am doing the majority of my writing/editing now. Previously I was mostly doing research, data gathering, expert interviews, and sitting in on day-to-day meetings at EDF. Our team ended up choosing the Philippines as the target country for EDF’s seaweed program, so I have started working on a country specific seaweed aquaculture proposal, along with my more general seaweed-NDC roadmap.

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Prati Rosen: NOAA MPA Center Mid-internship Post

Happy August everyone! I can not believe how fast the summer is zooming on by. 

A lot has been going on at my internship so far. 

My main project, mentioned in my first blog, is to create a guidance document for sanctuary managers on whether to allow or disallow innovative marine carbon carbon dioxide removal technologies in national marine sanctuaries. This document is in its finalized draft and is currently out for review by NOAA staff and eventually outside experts. It is intriguing to see the review process and the different opinions, thoughts, expertise, suggestions, etc from varying reviewers. I look forward to seeing how I can improve the report and for it to potentially influence ocean policy. 

Recently, I attended a workshop on the climate change vulnerability of Flower Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Having done a climate change vulnerability assessment in Professor Jeff Langholz’s Applied Conservation and Policy class this past spring, I was well equipped to tackle this workshop. On the first day of the workshop, various experts discussed the non climate change stressors to various habitats and select species and the projected impacts when these stressors are combined with climate change stressors. The second day, this discussion was continued and we brainstormed about potential adaptation measures that can be taken to mitigate these stressors. I am very fortunate to have attended the workshop and be in the company of so many experts. 

In the upcoming weeks I will work on revising, editing, and formatting my report for distribution and potentially publishing in the future. I also plan to meet with members of the Monterey Bay NMS in person to discuss the results of my report and gather their thoughts on carbon dioxide removal in national marine sanctuaries. Additionally, I plan to meet in person with Charlie Wahle, a former NOAA MPA Center staff in Monterey and adjunct professor at MIIS. I am very thankful to get these in person opportunities in a remote working world. 

I look forward to sharing my experiences in my next blog post!