What did you accomplish with your host organization? What was the impact of your work?
While a remote internship is about as exciting as it sounds, I managed to make the most of my remote work by surfing in between meetings, camping on the weekends, forcing Sam Naujokas to edit my writing, and connecting with fellow interns. I was extremely well supported and involved during my time with WWF, especially by my supervisor Wendy Goyert. WWF implemented a brand new virtual internship program that was incredibly well organized, prioritized our career growth, and provided interns with the networking tools that are necessary to break into the world of conservation. The majority of my work was independent research on participatory processes and governance mechanisms for engaging stakeholders in decision making processes regarding local fisheries. The main goal of my project was to aid the WWF Peru team in constructing a larger document that would be used to inform the Peruvian government on processes which their Mahi Mahi and Giant Squid fisheries could take to engage stakeholders and create sustainably managed fisheries.
My internship on the sustainable fisheries team under Wendy was so well organized, even during COVID times. While I was sad not to be in DC working directly with Wendy and playing ultimate frisbee during lunch, I had the chance to explore California and Oregon while also working remotely.
Describe the benefits of this experience for you professionally and personally?
School is important, but experience is where the real learning takes place. When you’re in class, you are told exactly what to do and how to do it, but in the field you are literally flying by the seat of your pants. While I felt incredibly supported by WWF, I had to quickly become an expert on all things related to fisheries. I spent several hours a day just learning what the terms I was reading about meant. I found myself starting the day with very little knowledge of the topics on the table, and quickly becoming an expert before the sun went down. This is not the time to be picky, rather the time to use every opportunity as a stepping stone toward my dream career. I won’t get there tomorrow, or even in the next 10 years, but I will learn alot along the way that will all add up to get me where I want to go.
Did your experience provide any unexpected discovery, self-reflection, or epiphany?
Studying environmental policy isn’t always the happiest topic. It’s very easy to get depressed or frustrated by all of the factors harming the planet today. However, sitting in on meetings and hearing discussion of efforts taking place, as well as hearing the passion in everyone’s voices, gives me so much hope for a future where people and the planet thrive.
It’s a terrifying time to be 25, as the world is literally on fire, people are starving, our country is divided, and families all over the globe are fleeing their homes. So many people my age are thinking about their futures with kids and a family, but that’s the last thing on my mind while our world is burning. It’s hard to be hopeful in today’s political climate, but the alternative is not an option. When we stop seeking hope and solutions to the looming climate crisis, we are giving up. My time with WWF instilled a newfound sense of hope that I’ve been severely lacking this past year.
Working and speaking directly with leaders within WWF such as the CEO, CFO, various heads of departments, and the entire oceans team, has fueled my passion to dive headfirst into conservation. This internship has helped me feel less overwhelmed about the road ahead of me and more inspired about my role in the process of change. It’s exciting to feel like I’m finally in a place where my individual actions really do matter and make a difference.