A Summer Well Spent
On the first day of our internship, we gathered in the conference room at the federation’s central office dressed to impress. We were seven interns with completely different backgrounds, beginning an entire summer of working closely together. Some of us were strangers to each other, others close friends. Over the past 12 weeks, we’ve gotten to know each other much better. It’s possible that we’ve learned too much - it was recently revealed that Zach used to sport a mullet and Taylor had dreadlocks!
Our interns and Lexia Weaver, a staff scientist, center, share a final group photo.
The summer has seen us travel all over the North Carolina coast as we gained a much better understanding of the challenges facing this region. We delved into policy, grant writing, restoration, education and attended a wide variety of meetings.
The Coastal Advocacy Institute is designed such that we interns have many small projects to accomplish, and a few larger ones, which we worked on over the course of the summer. Our main projects include:
A brief on the water quality reclassification of Currituck Sound
- Researching why North Carolina does not qualify for the FEMA Flood Insurance Program
- Developing a pilot program to implement small scale low-impact development (LID) retrofits in southeast North Carolina
- A brief on the potential listing of the area surrounding the proposed Titan cement plant near Wilmington as an "Aquatic Resource of National Importance"
- A white paper identifying how the federation’s work relates to sea-level rise
- Developing and teaching educational programs at Fort Macon State Park
Each of us had different goals in mind when we started this internship. Some wanted to know what it was like to work for a nonprofit and whether this could be a career path, others wanted to learn more about the N.C. coast or wanted to gain experience in environmental education. Our internship has been a fantastic experience, and I don’t think any of us will forget our time with the Coastal Federation.
Of the many memorable experiences we had during the summer, one of the most satisfying was the completion of our comment letter on the 300-plus page Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed terminal groin on Figure Eight Island. Other highlights include meeting a variety of community members involved in environmental issues who share our passion for coast, the treats Zach’s grandmother lovingly baked for the office and the rewarding experience of restoring Jones Island habitat. We also had magical close-up experiences with wildlife: seeing the adorable pelican chicks at their nesting site on Beacon Island and sitting in a boat watching a huge pod of dolphins pass us by in Bogue Sound.
We have had a great time getting to know one another, and have become good friends in the process. The unique skill set that each of us brought to the workplace created a strong team-like environment, which has been critical to the success of our work. This internship has given us a place to grow as individuals and build strengths, as well as learn how to evaluate and improve our weaknesses. Our knowledge and growth stems not only from the assignments in the workplace, but through the experiences and interactions we’ve had along the way. It is with some sadness that we end our internship this week, but we will not leave the Coastal Federation empty handed.
-- Ashley Duplanty & Zach Fasking