Ella McDougall, IEP ’19


The Resilient Coast Technical Advisory Committee in action, discussing coastal vulnerability and adaptation options for West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz

This past semester I was able to work with the Climate Action Program and Sustainability Office at the City of Santa Cruz on the development and implementation of an outreach plan for the Resilient Coast Santa Cruz initiative. This project is a grant funded project that will assess community values and coastal assets along the coastline of Santa Cruz, create a community vision for sea level rise adaptation options, and finally create a long-term, proactive plan based on an adaptive, trigger-based process. 
My participation was to help organize and curate collateral outreach materials based on the core values of the Resilient Coast project. These include educating and engaging with the public, ensuring equitable participation, and maintaining a transparent process. Specifically, I was involved in the creation of a Fact Sheet, which is used on the website and at outreach events, a FAQ sheet that offers more in-depth answers and explanations to the complex concepts behind the initiative, and an interactive timeline of coastal history along West Cliff Drive. These materials will help engage all corners of the community to understand the risks and potential solutions for adapting to sea level rise while still enabling community development and coastal access. 
By working with the City of Santa Cruz, I garnered valuable insights to the structure and function of local governments, as well as the value of regional collaboration. Different projects and studies are constantly being performed in various agencies, and communication and partnership allows their impacts to be echoed throughout multiple projects. I hope to always carry the spirit of this collaboration with me in the workplace.
I’ve also taken a large step forward in my career by recognizing my interest in climate adaptation planning. This area of professionalism combines sustainable development, equity and inclusion issues, and climate science. I encourage other students to lean into new potential career paths to see how they fit. Opening doors for yourself is sometimes the best way to forge a path to success! 

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