Accomplishments and Impact of my Fellowship with TRNERR/CCCIA
Although my Fellowship and time in San Diego was coming to a close at the end of August, the experiences and opportunities continued at full speed. During my last few weeks I was able to complete a number of deliverables that helped tie together my new skills and experience in coastal adaptation. I was also encouraged and supported to get involved in a few things out of the office that turned out to be fantastic networking and professional development opportunities.
At the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve (TRNERR), I became involved in researching and developing a number of reports to help the resiliency team and the Coastal Training Program. The first was a climate scenario report for the Batiquitos Lagoon Adaptation and Resiliency Plan. This project in being put on by TRNERR, in conjunction with a number of local government agencies, to determine adaptation management options for the Lagoon, located in Carlsbad, CA. During the past two years stakeholders have come together to discuss the importance of the lagoon, its wildlife and habitat, and how they might be threatened by climate scenarios. Two scenarios are being considered: moderate and extreme. This report discussed the scenarios, based on temperate changes and sea level rise, and how they would impact the natural aspects of the Lagoon. The report includes species and habitat level impacts and will help to inform the final adaptation and resiliency options for the Lagoon’s natural resource management. The report is currently being reviewed by stakeholders.
The second deliverable I helped to create was a Market Analysis of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the environmental space in San Diego. This report is TRNERR’s kick-off point as they explore opportunities for growth in the local DEI space. For this project I researched local DEI trainers and facilitators, as well as leadership institutions working statewide and nationally to increase diversity. I also explored what facilitators, research groups, and consultants might be able to offer in terms of capacity and resources. This report was strictly for internal use, but it helped me understand how intertwined inclusion and environmental work is, especially in a border region. Environmental issues do not impact all people equally, and we must confront this in order to avoid injustices. If we truly want environmental work and policy to be effective, we must change our practices and adopt an equity lens. Natural resources and climate change do not follow national boundaries or socioeconomic constructs. Planning a healthy and sustainable future will require equitable planning and stakeholder inclusion.
The last written TRNERR project I participated in was the creation of a Resiliency and Binational Strategies Appendix to the Comprehensive Management Plan and its new Strategic Plan. This plan, re-structured for the next 5 years, is the guiding document for all operations within the Reserve. This report was a great culmination of the topics I wanted to learn about during my time with TRNERR: how to use plan for sea level rise at the ecosystem level, and how international environmental management can be used to bridge socioeconomic and environmental issues. The document spanned all departments within the Reserve, from Administration to Coastal Training Program and Research. It is intended to be used as an extra resource to show people what efforts are being made to expand binational participation and plan for the impacts of climate change. It is therefore intrinsically intertwined to the Batiquitos Lagoon climate scenario planning and the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion report.
My time at the Center for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation also was coming to a close with the completion of a few deliverables. As this internship focused more on science communications and project management, it only made sense that the resulting projects were public facing. The first was a newsletter to inform the public (including funders and legislators) about the sea level rise and coastal research being done by CCCIA affiliated researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Requiring input from staff scientists and graduate students, the newsletter came together with quotes and photographs.
To complement this, we developed a project website for research in the San Diego Bay. The project will monitor and collect data on waves and tidal patterns within the Bay, turning them into a predictive model that informs adaptation planning for local agencies. We created the design and language for the website, so that relevant agencies can understand the inputs and outcomes of the research, as well as see what other public agencies are doing to plan for sea level rise.
Professional and Personal Benefits from my Fellowship
The experiences, skills, and final project accomplishments I completed during my summer have given me a greater understanding of the work of California adaptation policy, as well as an understanding of the adaptation network. Meeting people and hearing their advice and input on career moves was incredibly valuable.
My supervisor at CCCIA encouraged me to get the most out of my time in San Diego by meeting with local decision makers and professionals in the local coastal policy network. I was beginning to realize how small the local network is, seeing the same names on several reports and email chains, and meeting people twice and thrice in meetings and conferences. I was happy to be connected with these people to learn what they did in their job, their career goals and pathways, and collect any advice they were willing to impart on me. Talking with these people was one of the greatest takeaways of my summer Fellowship experience.
Self-discovery and Self-realization as a result of my Fellowship
Now that my summer CBE Fellowship has closed, I have concluded a few things. The first was that my decision to gain experience in a place where I may want to work professionally (instead of using my summer to travel to a ‘far off island’ and work on something ‘cool’, but not really reflective of my future career path) was a prudent decision. It helped me make connections and build a network.
Next, I have learned to ask for what you want out of an internship, and to take advantage of any opportunity. Instead of sitting in one office all summer, I wanted to gain the experience of two places. So I asked if this could be accommodated, and the answer was yes. I also requested to meet as many people as possible. Again, I was lucky enough to be supported in achieving this request. In summary, I’m thankful for having the opportunity to do this fellowship. It turned out to be a pivotal summer in my career development and I think it will continue to benefit me for as long as I make a career in California.