What did you accomplish with your host organization? What was the impact of your work?
This summer, I worked with the Environmental and Social Safeguards Team at World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Washington DC. This was a unique experience given than at the time I conducted my internship, WWF had just decided to implement Environmental and Social Safeguards Policies in most of its projects to ensure any negative impacts of projects are eliminated or mitigated. As part of my internship, I supported the Safeguards team in day-to-day work and helped edit the Spanish version of the “Safeguards Integrated Policies and Procedures” document for Latin American offices. I developed training materials for workshops and webinars on the safeguards policies. Thanks to the work conducted, the safeguards policies can be implemented in WWF’s Latin American projects like “Mesoamerican Ridge to Reef Management”.
Describe the benefits of this experience for you professionally and personally.
Despite the fact that my academic background is in Law, my hands-on experience has mostly been field work. For example, I have worked with fishing communities and as a naturalist tour guide in Costa Rica. This experience helped me gain experience working in an office of a large international environmental organization. Furthermore, living in Washington DC was an invaluable experience where I made connections and learned about different organizations and the work they do in the marine conservation field.
Did your experience provide any unexpected discovery, self-reflection, or epiphany?
This experience helped me get out of my comfort zone, challenge myself and gain hands-on experience. I discovered that an office job can be fun when I work in a topic I feel passionate about. Even though I am not a city person, I enjoyed my time in Washington DC and learned to appreciate specific aspects of my life back in Monterey, California and on the US west coast.
It has been a month and a half since my last blog post.
Since then my life has been filled with some amazing highlights, but also with
some very difficult times.
I had the opportunity to accompany a patrol trip from the island
of Santa Cruz to the island of Isabella. When we arrived in the bay at the
southern end of Isabella, we boarded a large container ship that was about to
leave for Guayaquil. Accompanied with several park rangers, a naval officer, a
police and a police dog we proceeded to search the ship for any illegal
substances. We were primarily looking for signs of illegal fishing;
specifically shark fins. Nothing was found but it was great to see how one of
these patrol inspections go.
Back in the National Park Office I had been continuing to
work on the procedure’s manual with Harman. By now I had made several solid
groups of friends who I would go with to surf or explore other parts of the island
of Santa Cruz on the weekends.
Unfortunately, during the first week of August I received some
bad news from back home. My grandfather, who had been diagnosed with cancer several
months earlier, was not doing well. After talking to him on the phone I made
the decision to book a flight home. I spent two weeks back in California and
had the opportunity to spend time with him and my family. He sadly passed away
on August 16th. I was lucky enough to have over a week with him
before he passed, and I was able to be there for the funeral which took place
on the 18th. I returned to Galapagos on the 22nd and was
met with support and kindness from everyone I work with at the park and
I had been continuing to work on the manual at national park when I was abruptly told that I would be part of a large expedition going to the island of Española for 7 days. The day before we left, we were given a full orientation. The park was partnering with a group called Galapagos Conservancy to monitor and count the albatross and tortoise population. Furthermore, some of the tortoises, which had been reintroduced on the island several years ago, would be taken back to be as first members of a reintroduced population on the island of Santa Fe.
We were split into 10 different groups to cover the entire island. I was to be in a group of three on the far side of the island primarily counting albatross, but also examining the tortoises. On the day of the trip we all boarded the National Parks largest boat, La Sierra Negra, and accompanied with a helicopter made our way to Española. When we arrived to Española my group was flown by helicopter to the far side of the island where we would be camping and collecting data for the next week. The first three days were tough as we had to hike between 10-20km everyday using machetes to cut through thick brush covered in thorns, but the experience was incredible. After day three the helicopter helped us move camps as we and dropped us much closer to the coast. Those last two days were fantastic as were constantly surrounded by albatrosses taking care of their fledglings, blue footed boobies, Galapagos Sea Lions, marine iguanas, humpback whales and a plethora of other bird species.
Upon arriving back in Santa Cruz (the island where I live) I went back to work on the procedures manual and started to help update an excel database of all the illicit activity committed by fishing and tourists boats in the Galapagos marine reserve.
The next week I had the opportunity to accompany a patrol
team on a trip to la Base Bolivar, a patrol base on the far side of the island
of Isabella. At this patrol base park rangers stay for two weeks at a time and
monitor the surrounding marine area on a zodiac to make sure not illicit
activity takes place in the area. I went with the resupply group to drop of two
new park rangers and pick up the park rangers who had been stationed there. During
the two-day trip we saw dolphins, sea turtles, manta rays, and whales.
That Friday of the next weekend while eating dinner with some friends, we met a tour guide operator who works out of Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz. He said that in the morning he was going on a day-trip to an island known as North Seymour, and that he had extra spots on the trip which he would give me and a few friends for free! The next morning, we left on a bus bright and early to catch a boat on the other side of the Santa Cruz. The boat was much fancier than the National Park boats I was used to, and we were given a delicious breakfast. After a short boat ride, we arrived at North Seymour where we saw blue footed boobies, frigate birds and land iguanas. Then in the afternoon after lunch we went snorkeling with parrot fish.
The next day with a group of friends we went on another boat
trip, but this time to Bartalomé. While Bartalomé is a small island, it is the
most photographed place in all the Galapagos. This is due to the epic spire
that sticks up next to a gorgeous beach. We woke up early and once again took a
bus to the other side of Santa Cruz, where another fancy boat waited for us. We
were fed breakfast and coffee and told to prepare for an angry sea. It took a
bit over two hours to get to Bartalomé and the boat was rocking for much of the
trip. When we arrived we ate got off the boat and proceeded to hike up to the
top of the inactive volcano on the island where you get the most unbelievable
views of the beach, the spire, and the large island of Santiago in the background.
After the hike we got back on the boat and got ready for some snorkeling. The
snorkeling was a magical as there was a group of Galapagos Penguins swimming
around us and playing in the water. Galapagos Penguins are the second smallest penguin
in the world and the only penguin that can be found north of the equator.
Each of these trips was unbelievable and reminded me of why it
is so important that we protect the Galapagos.
While talking to my boss Diana from WildAid about a week
before we went on the trips to Seymour and Bartalomé, I mentioned to her that I
am strongly considering veterinary school. She replied that WildAid also helps
run a wild animal rescue hospital in Ecuador about two hours north of Guayaquil
in Puerto Lopez, and that I could work there for a few weeks. This sounded like
an amazing opportunity and I told her that I was extremely interested. While it
didn’t seem that this was going to work out for a while, after discussing the
topic more with her and other WildAid personal in Guayaquil I will be leaving
the Galapagos on Wednesday to work in Puerto Lopez for my final two weeks. I am
extremely excited and thankful for this opportunity and will continue to keep you
all updated on how it goes.
Why I applied to the MIIS IEP program, I was aspired to be a environmental “communicator” that merges the gaps between science and policy, and the cultural/political barrier between different nations that from collaborating effectively in solving the common threat of climate change. I also wish to be involved in some revolutionary work regarding ocean conservation. I’ve been searching for a role that tackles all of the aspects I desire, and here comes the perfect match.
My internship at EDF combines international trade, environmental science, economics and knowledge of fishery. This is nothing more “MIIS” than this. I work under the China Ocean team as a fishery evaluation intern, and the scope of my work is incredible global. China is the largest seafood consumer in the world, and China’s national supply can’t suffice its growing marked needs. In fact, China’s EEZ had been severely overfished in the past decades and the coastal governments are looking for ways to restore the stocks while importing more seafood from other countries to satisfy the market needs. The global seafood trade is very likely going to be affected by climate change and policy changes. My job this summer was to 1. Compile the seafood trade flow data between China and its global suppliers; 2. Analyzed the Climate Impact on the major species that China is importing. 3. Compile a case study of sustainable fishery management policy& practice globally for the Fujian Fishery Institute in China.
I had been dreaming to work for Environmental Defense Fund and EDF has proven to me that it is an awesome organization that attracts truly passionate people. I was humbled by the knowledge that my co-workers had every day, and I felt so respected even as a temporary intern. Beside doing my independent project at the office, I also listened to various webinars that EDF organized. The webinars covered a variety of environmental topics that EDF had focused on and had some ground-breaking accomplishment. There’s no office politics in EDF and everyone genuinely works for the common goal and was always happy to help me connect to other professionals, giving me career and life advice, and share some good stories and laughs with me. I was even introduced to the high-level team and joined their video conferences when they talked about the long-term blueprint for the program. I felt I was treasured as part of the team, even though my project was temporary and independent most of the time.
China is the largest seafood consumer in the world, and China’s national supply can’t suffice its growing marked needs. In fact, China’s EEZ had been severely overfished in the past decades and the coastal governments are looking for ways to restore the stocks while importing more seafood from other countries to satisfy the market needs. The global seafood trade is very likely going to be affected by climate change and policy changes. My job this summer was to 1. Compile the seafood trade flow data between China and its global suppliers; 2. Analyzed the Climate Impact on the major species that China is importing. 3. Compile a case study of sustainable fishery management policy& practice globally for the Fujian Fishery Institute in China.
What did you accomplish with your host organization? What was the impact of your work?
This summer I interned with the Environmental Defense Fund at Boston, Massachusetts. I worked under the China Ocean Program as an Asian Fishery Evaluation Intern. I worked on two independents projects: 1. Compiled trade flow data between China and its global suppliers and assessed the climate change impact on the major species. 2. Compiled case studies of sustainable fishery industries/organizations and management plans across the world and assessed the feasibility of each case under China’s cultural and legal background. The climate-fishery report is a Climate Road Map initiative that EDF and the Chinese Fishery Science Academy is launching collaboratively, and the overarching goal of this initiative is to prepare industries and policy maker to adapt to the so-called climate-ready fishery. I was very honored to be part of the team to contribute to this ground-breaking project involving multiple stakeholders and scholars from different countries. The climate roadmap is a very ambitious project and I could only a accomplish a literature review of related studies. However, my report served as a preliminary guideline for the future research focus and provided a general knowledge of what changes were expected in the ocean ecosystem.
Describe the benefits of this experience for you professionally and personally.
I had been dreaming to work for Environmental Defense Fund and EDF prove to me that it was an awesome organization that attracts truly passionate people. I was humbled by the knowledge that my co-workers had every day, and I felt so respected even as a temporary intern. There’s no office politics in EDF and everyone genuinely works for the common goal and was always happy to help me connect to other professionals, giving me career and life advice, and share some good stories and laughs with me. I was even introduced to the high-level team and joined their video conferences when they talked about the long-term blueprint for the program. I felt I was treasured as part of the team, even though my project was temporary and independent most of the time.
Did your experience provide any unexpected discovery, self-reflection, or epiphany?
EDF has a very well-developed fishery knowledge Hub called the Fishery Solutions Center where EDF catalogs its global work related to ocean health and sustainable fishery. They also organized a virtual Fishery Academy where they provide training for sustainable fishery practices and data-limited fishery management. I spent a good amount of time browsing through the courses and I felt incredibly enlightened. My major takeaway was that a successful fishery management was never just about catching less fish. If we do not consider various social factors (eg. secured rights, local employment, communications, platforms for information sharing and behavioral science), it is very likely a management plan will fall part at the implementation stage. After talking with many practitioners in the sustainable fishery field, I found some common grounds in the practices—long-term secured fishing rights and co-management seems to be the most effective way to solve the “tragedy of the common” in the fishery case. A perfect solution is yet to be found, but the global fishery industry is finding its way towards sustainability.
you accomplish with your host organization?
What was the impact of your work?
I interned with the Environmental Defense Fund out of the San Francisco
office. I assisted the Research and
Development team of the Fisheries Solutions Center with three projects. For one project, I co-authored a white paper
advising Japan’s Fisheries Agency on management strategies that could be
implemented on their nearshore fisheries to comply with their new federal
fisheries reform law. For the paper, we
examined case studies of similar coastal fisheries and strategies that have
worked in terms of applying science-based targets to diverse fisheries and using
input/output controls as well as some ideas for quota allocation and the
potential for live releases of vulnerable species. For another project, I expanded upon a
database of case studies examining interactions between fisheries and aquaculture. EDF will conduct a loop analysis on the database
to determine what factors contribute to symbiotic relationships between fisheries
and aquaculture and which foster negative interactions. In addition, for my final project I developed
a database which compiles information the governance and policy conditions associated
with aquaculture practices by country with the goal of creating a resource to
facilitate access to information about aquaculture and to potentially conduct a
similar statistical analysis as the other database to glean trends between
governance and good aquaculture practices.
the benefits of this experience for you professionally and personally.
interning with the Environmental Defense Fund was extremely beneficial to my
career development. Firstly, I had the
opportunity to work directly with experts in my field of fisheries management. EDF ensures that their interns participate in
team meetings, strategy sessions, and workshops to expose us to the work that
they are doing. In these sessions, we
were able to contribute our ideas to EDF projects. I also gained experience with writing white
papers directed to government officials and how to quickly compile information
to develop case studies. I also had the
time to pour through the literature on fisheries and aquaculture and feel I am
consequently significantly more informed on these topics than I was before the
start of my internship.
experience provide any unexpected discovery, self-reflection, or epiphany?
summer, and prior to my time at MIIS, I primarily worked in field biology and environmental
education. This summer was my first experience
with a regular 9-5 office job. I was surprised
by how normal and welcoming this office environment felt. They really put in effort to ensure all of
the interns get the most out of their experience and host many events to make
us feel part of the staff and to have the opportunity to learn about all of the
exciting projects that EDF is working on.
I was also surprised by how much I loved San Francisco. I never considered myself a city person, but
found that I could definitely happily live in San Francisco.
What did you accomplish with your host organization? What was the impact of
During the time with the
California Coastal Commission, I knew my time there was limited. It was not
enough to sufficiently digest aspects of a coastal program analyst to become an
effective part of the operation. However, I quickly picked up that staff
resources were mostly focused on handling permit items that have statutory
deadlines. Hence I constantly asked myself this question: What can I contribute
to this office at the operational level that other staff could not do because
they have lacked resources (mostly time)? I was able to answer the question in
two parts: 1. Develop a staff guideline for incorporating environmental justice
in permit processes as mandated by the recently adopted Commission’s Environmental
Justice Policy, and 2. Tackle the often disputed and confusing languages of
local coastal programs (LCPs) to create a solid understanding of the Commission’s
certified LCPs for the municipalities of San Pedro, Hermosa Beach, and Long Beach.
I would like to appraise my efforts as a step forward in streamlining the
everyday operation because these works will save the planners time and efforts
to duplicate my work on their own.
This summer, I decided not to apply for an internship in the U.S., I went to my home country: Taiwan.
This country is located between the East China Sea and the South China Sea. However, many seafood products were from IUU vessels or from nearshore bottom trawler boats. Therefore, the first work is checking where the seafood products are from?
The second work is helping the Michelin restaurants not over-use the seafood products and trigger the environment goes to a worse situation. Recently, Michelin restaurants become an important mark for international tourists. According to the Guide of Michelin in 2019, there are 124 restaurants are in the “Le Guide Michelin” and 24 restaurants have Michelin Star. To stimulate consumers to come again, my company has to find out unique fish, including barnacle, giant isopod (Bathynomus), and Pacific mole crab (Hippaovalis). To provide “unique” seafood for these restaurants, the company has found a lot of different seafood. However, the company forgot how high impact on the catering when these Michelin restaurants have used a new product in their cuisine. Therefore, my second work is educating these chefs’ why we should not use this seafood or shorten the providing period even though the supplying season has not finished.
After reporting how negative impact on the environment of the fish resources to client restaurants, the company had a huge conflict: conceal the information or reveal the information? It is not surprising that all investors were gone, and the company closed. It is a sad story about a company’s bankrupt because of protecting fish resources. What did I learn from the summer internship? First, even though the Taiwanese Government supports the Sustainable Development Goals in many developing countries, in contrast, in Taiwan, the biggest stakeholder in the industry may not be ready to change their attitude and concentrate on the issue of fish resources collapse in Asia. How to lead the industry to go to a better situation? Probably you will ask some questions: how about using policies and regulation from the government? The South China Sea and the East China Sea have many countries share the marine resources. The marine resources sharing becomes an important issue and not many governments want to secrecy their own fishery industry. Interestingly, the fishery industry already knows how to circumvent the policy and earns the maximum benefit by under-table cooperation.
Second, by education from NGOs? Well, how many consumers cannot know where fish are from? How many fish traders conceal the information just for higher income? The overlapping and closing fishing areas in the north of Taiwan and the large and far area in the south of Taiwan lead the small-scale fishery to have a huge challenge in regulation and management. Shall Taiwan department of fishery ask for help? Or, can Taiwan re-draw its ocean zoning to elevate its efficiency? Recently, the Department of fishery supports aquaculture. While checking these projects of aquaculture, it seems does not have too many high technologies which can improve the pollution from the traditional fish farm. Can the farmed fish be accepted by these restaurants’ chefs’ or consumers?
In August, my guide and I have had a very long conversation. Two years ago, he educated chefs’ use “Ike Jime” (a method of slaughtering fish to maintain the quality of its meat) to let a fish die in less painful (animal right). This year, we used the impact in Facebook to reveal how worse of the fish resources in this summer, then, we announce that we won’t provide IUU fish to the Michelin restaurants until the day when the fish resources recovered. Maybe in this cruel way, the catering industry will self-reflect how to cook their seafood cautiously.
My guider told me: this time, we’ve given these chefs a lesson. However, we have another challenge: the traditional markets in Asia where is the biggest stakeholder but cannot be impacted by Business to Business.
p.s. I am wondering to say THANK YOU for my friends: Brian (Seafood Watch office), Tim (Fish Choice), Pam and Jim (Monterey Bay Aquarium), Fisheries Trust, Ocean2Table, Louie (Seafood Legacy in Japan), China Blue, Mr. Chang-An Cheng (Consultant in the Taipei City Government). Your suggestion will lead me to how to stimulate an industry or a local government to use the marine resources in high efficiency.
Accomplishments and Impact of my Fellowship with
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
The high-end restaurants in Taipei are
seeking for the highest quality of seafood from the local seafood markets. The
crucial character of local seafood in the north coast of Taiwan is that vendors
sale living fishes. The crucial reason is that there are many Buddhists buy the
living fish so that they can return them into the ocean. However, living fishes
are also a good product for these high-end restaurants because the character
represents “high quality” and “local catching.”
“How to define the “local catching” seafood?”, “Does the work follow
the inspiration of sustainability?” I’ve asked myself many times when I was
working with the fishermen. I know I hold the high-end restaurants which seems
like the stakeholder and can pay the highest prices in the seafood market.
Why not use the money from restaurants and
help them to have the first found from the consumers? Then, they would have
capitals to switch their skills.
Unfortunately, using a company to support a
dream is very difficult. While my company connects to the relation between the
restaurants and producer and the producers have enough income in the first
month, they did not want to change their fishing skills and seek for a
sustainable fishery. Instead, the high-end restaurants support the fishermen to
catch fish by bottom trawling in the near-shore area (less than 3NM, 3NM-12NM,
and the products were IUU).
Even though the restaurants’ general
managers knew it is an illegal activity, but the cheapest prices in the market
and the lack of power of prohibition lead the situation becomes worse.
Uncomfortable cooperation is a cheat. It seems these Michelin Star restaurants
just want to use the stars to sell products. It is the reason why: when we
require them to carry the social responsibility and environmental responsibility
in their selling, they have many reasons to circumvent the responsibilities on
the local environment. The “local product using” is like a joke in
p.s. My company decided to stop providing services to these restaurants. Probably this decision will let my company has very long time cannot have a stable income. However, I hope the Micheline office can use top-down impact on these Michelin restaurants to follow the SDGs and take the social and environmental responsibility.
As the summer goes on, I have been working and learning with the Environmental and Social Safeguards Team here at WWF. My team has been inclusive and supportive. I got to participate in different workshops and webinars in which the safeguards team trained WWF offices located in Latin America on safeguards policies.
I think implementing environmental and social safeguards is an innovative approach and WWF is setting an example of how environmental organizations and NGOs need to constantly evolve and adapt to new circumstances and see communities as an integral part of conservation projects. WWF-US recently stated its commitment to safeguards, making it perfect timing for me to learn about this new and upcoming topic.
In addition to enjoying my internship I have had the chance to explore Washington DC. I am able to to visit a museum after work, go to an educational film, explore the city and meet new people. For example, I had the opportunity to meet US Congressmen and tour government buildings. Most museums and attractions are free and it is easy to bike or take public transportation from one place to the other.
My summer in San Diego is in full
swing! Both sides of my internship have fully picked up. I am splitting my time
between Scripps’ Center for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation (CCCIA) and
the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve (TRNERR). I started my
first two weeks at TRNERR, but then switched over two weeks full time at CCCIA,
while my TRNERR boss prepares to defend her dissertation.
During my first few days at CCCIA I
got to meet some of the coastal researchers, the graduate students who work in
the labs, and some of the office staff working on governmental relations and
project management. The research they are doing is fascinating. For example,
one crew created an enclosed system that simulates a wave crashing on the
shore; intended to collect data about sea spray and aerosols produced by ocean
water. This groundbreaking research will tell us how ocean water interacts with
the atmosphere, how it links to public health and air quality. As the lead
scientist, Kim Prather, says, ‘When they close the beach for high bacteria, they
tell you not to swim, but they don’t tell you not to breath’.
I joined in on meetings with Ocean
Acidification scientists, who are putting together a research summit in a few
months. In preparation for their conference, they asked me to look into the
statewide ocean acidification guidance and research priorities to ensure their
efforts correctly align with funding opportunities. I also sat in on a briefing
of all the research and scientific investigation occurring in and around the
Tijuana River Estuary during a briefing for local elected officials. This was a
unique opportunity to merge my two internship components: CCCIA conducting
research in conjunction with TRNERR, as it is communicated to decision makers.
This briefing was a slice of policy-making I had never experienced before and
helped me understand the process for funding scientific research, filling
knowledge gaps, and translating data into management decisions.
In addition to meeting the team and
attending meetings and trainings, I also helped put together the CCCIA
newsletter and reconstruct their webpage. These types of projects are crucial
for science communications and project management. I now understand how
integral sharing research findings is for good policy and management decisions!
I’ve also been able to get even
more involved with all things Tijuana River. One of the biggest projects I
participated in was a binational partnership between UCSD students and
professors, TRNERR, and the local community is Los Laureles Canyon, Tijuana.
The Binational Partnership Lab at UCSD hires about 10 interns every summer to
carry out projects across the border in one of the most disadvantaged
communities in Tijuana. This neighborhood, known as Los Laureles, is one of the
highest sediment contributors to the Tijuana Estuary. This means that because
the area is naturally erosive, sediment is carried by rainwater and urban
run-off in excess. It flows directly across the border in the Tijuana Reserve,
and out into the Pacific Ocean. This canyon is also booming with unregulated
development, where roads are not paved or properly maintained, and basic
plumbing and waste collection is lacking. These issues create not only an
environmental issue for the US side of the watershed, but also a flooding
hazard and dangerous living environment for the residents of the canyon. This
truly embodies how social development and environmental protection are
I was able to help the interns in
their community activities and workshops in the local community center in Tijuana.
Walking across the border and meeting residents in the Los Laureles Canyon allowed
me to connect the social issues to environmental burdens downstream. I hope to
continue enabling international communities to make more sustainable environmental
decisions that will protect not only neighboring ecosystems, but also their local
wellbeing and security.
I’ve been really enjoying spending
time at the Tijuana River NERR, learning about the Coastal Training Program,
binational issues, and all the research collaborations. Now that I have also
onboarded with CCCIA, I am also excited to see what goes on at Scripps! Both
places offer amazing networks and resources, and I look forward to how the summer