Out of the Office and Into the Islands (Or, That Time When I Was Still Allowed to Travel)

This blog is a bit of a throw-back, but an experience I’ve been meaning to document here for some time. Before COVID-19, during the week of September 30th to October 4th, 2019, I had the opportunity to join representatives from the West Coast Ocean Tribal Caucus, my supervisors from the West Coast Ocean Alliance (WCOA) and West Coast Ocean Data Portal (WCODP), and facilitators from the Udall Foundation on an exchange trip to British Columbia and First Nations territories.

The purpose of the trip was for Tribes and First Nations with territories along the West Coast of the United States and Canada to exchange ideas and experiences related to ocean management and planning, especially as they relate to coordination with state, federal and provincial governments. The exchange was hosted by the Marine Plan Partnership for the North Pacific Coast (MaPP), which is a collaborative entity for marine planning between First Nations governments and the British Columbia provincial government.

Our first full day in British Columbia was spent in Vancouver, on the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations (most First Nations in British Columbia never ceded any of their land through treaties with the Canadian or British government). After an opening prayer and introductions, this day focused on identifying benefits of and methods for collaborating on ocean planning with other indigenous governments, stakeholders, and state, federal, and provincial partners. Presentations and panels included representation from the WCOA, WCODP, MaPP, the Nanwakolas Council, the Central Coast Indigenous Resources Alliance (CCIRA), the Coastal First Nations – Great Bear Initiative, and several Tribes, First Nations, and provincial and state governments.

While our first day in Vancouver offered a compelling discussion and exchange of information, the highlight of the trip was undoubtedly our visit further north, where we spent time in the town of Campbell River on Vancouver Island— and about 12 hours on the water exploring First Nations territories in the Central Coast Region.  

We flew to Campbell River on our second day in British Columbia, and after some additional presentations and a night of fresh seafood (Halibut! Prawns! Salmon! Clams! Crab!) and dancing as guests of the Wei Wai Kum First Nation, we departed on the boat trip early in the morning under the cover of classic Northwest clouds. The overarching purpose of this on-the-water trip was to share examples of different indigenous ocean planning projects on the Central Coast, and in particular to highlight the Indigenous Guardians Program— a program where indigenous ‘Guardians’ are employed in their territories to do ecological monitoring and protect cultural resources, and contribute to land and marine-use planning. We had a lot of stops to fit in, so while you can view our entire itinerary on the map below, I’ll just offer a few highlights in this blog.

Visiting this many places in one day meant we had a fast boat and a schedule to stick to— even when we saw orcas, we could only slow down to watch them for a brief amount of time!
Cruising along the Central Coast of Vancouver Island.
Our trusty vessel for the day.
  • Tsatsisnukwomi (not pictured on map): This is a village site of the Da’naxda’xw-Awaetlala First Nation, where we ate lunch. This village was actually abandoned in the 1960s, after many children were relocated because of the devastating Canadian Indian residential school system, and the lack of other teaching and healthcare resources made the isolation of the area untenable. However, in the early 2000s, several people worked hard to make the village habitable again, and a new Bighouse was unveiled in 2004. We were able to visit the inside of this Bighouse and hear stories about the village and Da’naxda’xw-Awaetlala people from the Guardian onsite.
Headed to lunch in Tsatsisnukwomi.
Totem outside the Bighouse in Tsatsisnukwomi.
  • Port Neville: This area was identified by the Tlowitsis First Nation as a special management zone, where Guardians are currently monitoring temperature and salinity as they conduct scallop aquaculture experiments. The Tlowitsis and other First Nations in this area are aware that increased mariculture is likely coming to the region—so why shouldn’t they be the first ones to derive that economic benefit? However, issues like transporting the scallops to markets for sale and seed security are issues that will need to be overcome before this becomes a full commercial enterprise.
Approaching the scallop pilot project area in Port Neville.
I think this scallop is the biggest one I’ve ever seen— and apparently, they can’t be eaten because they are part of an experimental trial! (photo credit: Andy Lanier)
  • Compton Island, Village Island, and Kalogwis: These stops were all part of the Arch Pilot Project, a partnership between MaPP, the Nanwakolas Council and the province of British Columbia on Tlowitsis and Mamalilikulla First Nations territories. While the Provincial Heritage Conservation Act of British Columbia is supposed to protect archeological sites like those found in these areas, Elders had been concerned for decades that it was not working – and they were right. A sailor and kayaker myself, I love exploring lesser known inlets and waterways, and I was upset to hear of the way that coastal cruisers had passed on the location of these sacred spaces over the years, unearthed archeological sites, and taken artifacts and even bones for themselves as souvenirs. The goal of this pilot project is to increase protection over and improve public knowledge of the importance of these cultural resources, and to demonstrate the effectiveness of the Guardians program in stewarding these places and resources.
An old village site and shell midden within the Arch Pilot Project area.
Petroglyphs within the Arch Pilot Project area.
The day wouldn’t have been complete without spotting some gray whales on our way home! (photo credit: Andy Lanier)

After our long day on the water concluded, we had a closing dinner in Port McNeill and a three-hour bus drive back to Campbell River. The next day, it was time to head back to Vancouver and then to Oregon. Altogether, this trip was a highlight not just of my fellowship, but of my early career thus far. Not only did this trip introduce management and planning approaches that our Tribal Caucus and state and federal partners can bring back to their work in U.S., but it gave me a front row seat to what collaboration between these different entities can achieve, and that is an example that I know will stay with me. All of the participants on this trip were so pleased with the outcomes that before it ended, we were talking about continuing the exchange in the future. We hope that next time, we can host our colleagues from British Columbia and First Nations on the other side of the international border.

This exchange was funded by the Marine Conservation Initiative of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. A detailed summary of the exchange, as well as a related guide for state and federal agencies working with West Coast tribes on ocean and coastal issues, will be publicly available via the West Coast Ocean Alliance later this year.

Creating a Scorecard for West Coast Ocean Health

In summer 2019, at the request of West Coast Ocean Alliance (WCOA) members, the West Coast Ocean Data Portal (WCODP) began preliminary work on the creation of a West Coast Ocean Health Scorecard. The WCODP had been seeking direction on data activities from the WCOA for some time, and this project offered a way to focus the efforts of WCODP, and complement similar efforts being undertaken by the states of Washington and California. A primary goal for this scorecard effort is to define standards and critical thresholds concerning priority ocean health issues across the region, and to present a cohesive picture of what West Coast ocean health looks like to the public.

For the first several months of this project, I spent time reviewing existing ocean health tools, including scorecard products and frameworks. Examples I looked at include the Ocean Health Index, NOAA’s Integrated Ecosystem Assessment, and the Condition Reports of National Marine Sanctuaries. I wanted to see how other groups had organized indicators and tackled some of the challenges inherent to a project of this scale, e.g., how goals and baselines were agreed upon and how results were presented clearly to different audiences.

After looking at what different examples had to offer, I set to work on creating a framework for what the WCODP scorecard could look like. With the help of my supervisors, the co-chairs of the WCODP, I created a nested framework of about 15 indicators that fit into three larger topics: stressors, ecosystem health, and human use. During this process, I received regular input on monthly WCODP Coordination calls, and in December of 2019, I presented our framework and ideas for a scorecard tool at a full-day data workshop, as part of the larger WCOA Annual Meeting.

While WCOA members had feedback on the goals, audience, and organization of the scorecard, they were in general agreement of moving forward on the project. It was decided that with initial funding from the NOAA Regional Data Sharing Initiative, we would move forward with three ‘proof of concept’ indicators for development in 2020. The indicators decided upon were beach water quality, ocean acidification, and kelp.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has delayed some of this indicator work in 2020, but we do have three concurrent efforts going on for which I’ve been able to help with scopes of work, grant management, and contracts as well as research. Heal the Bay, a California-based nonprofit, is leading the work on a beach water quality indicator, and NANOOS (Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems), in cooperation with the other West Coast IOOS (Integrated Ocean Observing System) Regional Associations, is leading work on the ocean acidification indicator. I am currently leading work on the kelp indicator, and have spent the last few months researching different methods for examining canopy-forming kelps’ extent, persistence and quality— including remote-sensing, aerial overflight surveys and in-water surveys. In the next few weeks, the WCODP will begin a comparison study of these methods on specific giant kelp beds in Southern California, in order to inform our scorecard effort.

Altogether, the West Coast Ocean Health Scorecard will be a three to five year effort before its first iteration is complete. In the next few years, we are hoping to continue developing the framework and user interface for the public to interact with the scorecard, and to continue developing individual indicators. I am currently planning to stay involved with the project once my fellowship has ended, and have learned a lot from seeing how a longer-term venture like this develops and evolves from the beginning. Here’s to hoping for a successful project, and a healthy West Coast ocean!

A Quarantine Fellowship

Since I last posted two weeks ago there has been quite a bit of progress, and a few changes, in my two projects for the summer. The copper boat paint project has started taking shape, with the identification of a potential funding source for a small pilot testing program to measure copper concentrations at various sites around Oregon. The testing will likely focus on heavily used marinas and boatyards, where high concentrations of copper from antifouling paint are more likely to occur. These tests could help shed light on the the extent of copper contamination, and if the results indicate an unhealthy level of copper at a particular sites they could serve as starting points for a discussion between stakeholders to decide how to remedy the problem.

The OASE video is also going well, and I have been able to visit Connor Noland at Port Orford Sustainable Seafood and Alexi Overland at Defunkify and shoot some video of them at work. It’s been fun to learn about the projects they’re involved in, and it’s also been a great excuse to get out of town for a little bit :)

Fishing Boats on the Oregon Coast

Aside from these trips out of town, my work life has settled in to a pretty standard routine. Once the sun is up I’ll head out to the back yard with a big cup of coffee to check new emails, look at my day planner, and watch the furious activity of the honeybees at the flowering mint plant by my chair.

Bees on the mint plant in my yard.

The rest of my morning is filled with reading articles, planning my projects and writing in my notebook, and phone calls and zoom meetings. I usually take a break every hour or so to say hi to my wife, who’s been hard at work in her first term at graduate school. And of course, I can never resist giving a scratch between the ears to our dog Mesa, who seems to have permanently installed herself on our couch since we got her a few months ago :)

Mesa on the couch.

In the afternoons I’ll usually have a late lunch, again usually in the back yard to take advantage of all the nice weather we’ve been having.

Lunch time in the back yard.

Later on in the day is when I’ll take care of things around the house, run errands and go shopping, and hang out with my wife and take the dog for a walk. I’ve found that I start to feel most creative when the sun goes down, and I’ll spend most nights editing away on my OASE video project.

The Covid-19 pandemic has, of course, meant a huge change in my life, but at this point I feel that I’ve mostly gotten used to the changes and have made the best of the current situation. I miss being able to go to the library and coffee shops to work. Most of all, I miss being able to interact with people and do all the simple things that I used to take for granted like attend a lecture or meet someone for a cup of coffee. However, being able to make my own ours and work from home has its advantages, and I really love being able to spend lots of time with my family and work my projects when I’m feeling the most energized and inspired.

I hope everyone else is also having some positive experiences this summer, and I will check in with you all again in a few weeks!

“A Day in the Life of…” Kelly Soluri!

Remind us what your project is

I’m tasked with translating outreach documents for the Shellfish and Estuarine Assessment of Coastal Oregon (SEACOR) team at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW)

What have you been doing in your first few weeks on the job?

I’ve been reading up on background information on the ecology of different shellfish species such as Dungeness crabs and razor clams. This background reading helps me understand the context of my work as my first document is on crabbing. I’ve already begun the process of translating and I’m on my second draft. 

Describe your daily routine in the time of COVID-19 remote (or in person) work:

Do you work 8 hours straight?

I maintain my hours flexible so I don’t get burnt out quickly. I like to section off my day with tasks instead of basing my productivity on strictly on time, although there are times that I do work through 8 hours. 

My workspace supplied with my agenda, notebook, computer, water bottle, and a glass of iced tea.

Do you multitask?

I split my day with different tasks but while working, I’m focused on that task. 

Do you have “coffee” with colleagues/co-workers/other interns?

I did join a “coffee hour” celebrating the last day of the internship for Em and Jenna. I’d like to have other events like this in the future to bond with the other interns.

How often do you check in with your supervisor?

My supervisor and I have a weekly meeting on Fridays at the end of the day where we check in on my progress. I can ask any questions I’d like during this time and we finish the meeting with a presentation by my mentor on an aspect of the field work that I would have been participating in as my original project before the covid-19 modifications. 

How often are team meetings?

SEACOR team meetings are weekly. I had my first just last week! 

How do you stay motivated (exercise breaks, phone calls with friends, walking meetings…)?

I like to take small breaks throughout the day. During breaks, I’m usually outside, taking in the sun while having a popsicle or fruit. I also use my agenda to not lose track of deadlines and meetings. 

My break spot during a sunset.

What is one downside or your COVID-19 work routine?

I would have loved to get to know all the interns in person or to have started all at the same time but I’m looking to remedy some of it by reaching out to people for coffee hours.  

What is one upside of your COVID-19 work routine?

The flexibility of my routine is a nice benefit although you have to be disciplined to complete your tasks everyday.

Thanks for reading!

A Day in the Life of Rachel

My Summer Project

This summer I am working with the Haystack Rock Awareness Program (HRAP) in Cannon Beach, Oregon. My research consists of understanding how the granting of Marine Garden status to Haystack Rock has affected the community. To do this, I will be communicating with a few different interest groups. This includes visitors to Haystack Rock, business owners, the local government, and residents of the area. I am also doing some research into the history of Haystack Rock and how these protection measures came about. This will be used to create a model for other coastal areas to follow that want to enact similar protections.

First Few Weeks on the Job

In the last couple of weeks, I have been developing different ways that I will interact with my study’s interest groups virtually to obtain data. So far, I have written two surveys; one for visitors of Haystack Rock and another for business owners in the area. The surveys will hopefully lend some information into what people think about HRAP and where our community connections could be strengthened.

Daily Routine During COVID-19

I like to start my day by going for a run (if I can get myself up early enough!). Then I usually work for a few hours by reading up on HRAP’s history and looking for other sources of info. After that, I will usually meet with some of HRAP’s partners or continue to develop survey questions. I like to vary what I do and make sure to give myself breaks if I need them.

Do you work 8 hours straight?

I don’t usually work eight hours straight; I like to take breaks! I always feel I do my best work if I’ve had some time to relax and refresh.

Do you multi-task?

I like to listen to music while I work, but usually whatever I’m working on has my full attention.

Do you have “coffee” with colleagues/co-workers/other interns?

I attended a coffee break with the OCOIN interns Angela, Jenna, and Em last week! It was great to catch up and see how everyone was doing.

How often do you check in with your supervisor?

My supervisor and I meet every Friday to wrap up the week and discuss progress on the project. We also chat about the upcoming week and how we will prepare.

How do you stay motivated?

Definitely communicating with others! I really enjoy talking with other Sea Grant fellows, HRAP’s partners, and others in the industry. Hearing what they have to say always helps give me a big picture of the work we’re doing and why it’s important.

What is one downside to your COVID-19 work routine?

I really miss the in-person experience of being with co-workers and colleagues. Sometimes other people’s energy can help fuel my own in the work environment and it is hard without that.

What is one upside to your COVID-19 work routine?

Since my project is being done from home, I have had to be a lot more intentional about reaching out to people and networking. For someone who is just starting out in their professional career it is a lot less intimidating to network with people remotely! It has been a great start and will help me ease into in-person networking in the future.   

Thanks for reading!

My outdoor office for today

A day in the life of Natalie Holsclaw

In case you haven’t seen my other blog posts, this summer I am interning with researchers from the USDA-ARS. We are studying estuary ecosystems related to shellfish aquaculture. Most of our work involves burrowing shrimp because they are considered pests in shellfish aquaculture.

I am a little over two weeks into my internship and so far, I have worked a bit in a field setting collecting burrowing shrimp. I also spent some time in the lab measuring and processing the shrimp. Most of my time has been working remotely reading various scientific articles and beginning my journey using R statistical software.

My daily routine:

My routine varies depending on what’s going on. When I work from home, I typically wake up around 7 and start working around 8. I usually start my day checking/answering emails and then I’ll move to a combination of reading and taking notes on scientific articles and going through a guidebook to R. This is my at home work space:

 I’ll take breaks throughout the day to eat and move around some by taking short walks or doing yoga. I’ll typically stop doing work related activities around 5 or 6 in the evening. Below is a picture from one of my walks at Hatfield Marine Science Center:

When we do field work, this involves spending the day or days in mud flats of estuaries collecting data, shrimp, and staghorn sculpin. Subsequent days after we do field work are spent going through these samples and data as well as entering the data into Excel sheets.

Every Friday I have a virtual lab meeting with members of my supervisor’s lab. Starting last week, I also have weekly Friday afternoon meetings with scientists outside the lab I’m working with along with my supervisor and other interns. These meetings are related to ocean acidification which is one of my areas of interest.  

The downside of working during COVID-19:

I think the major downside of working during the pandemic is the lack of human contact. I feel like because we are unable to work in person as much and many people aren’t able to at all, this causes many missed opportunities to meet other interns and scientists.

Since I’m specifically working at Hatfield Marine Science Center, I feel like normally outside of COVID-19 times, I would have tons of interaction with other interns and scientists but that just isn’t possible right now.

The upside of working during COVID-19:

The major upside of working during the pandemic for me is the flexibility of it. I am able to work at my own pace when I’m at home and take breaks whenever I need to. This has allowed me to attend virtual seminars I may not typically get to attend. I am also able to work at times that are best for me and am not restricted to a typical work schedule.

Blog Post 2 : “A Day in the Life of… Essie Timofeyenko”

-Remind us what your project is: My project is to create a summarized report of the visitor intercept surveys that were conducted at the Oregon Marine Reserves from 2012-2015.

-What have you been doing in your first few weeks on the job? My first few weeks I’ve been reading relevant literature and reading about the Marine Reserves history (when it was created, how the surveys were administered, etc.). I’ve been attending the weekly Marine Reserves Program team meetings and the Human Dimensions team meetings as well. I’ve just received the synthesized data of the surveys on Wednesday so I’m starting to write the report now.

-Describe your daily routine in the time of COVID-19 remote (or in person) work:

Do you work 8 hours straight? I don’t but I think I’m going to possibly try that next week to optimize productivity.

Do you multitask? I do in a way. I think if my brain starts getting burnt out from reading one thing, I will switch things up and go through other material.

Do you have “coffee” with colleagues/co-workers/other interns? I don’t but I’m open to it! I joined in on Angela’s, Jenna’s, and Em’s last coffee hour this morning and that was great to check in with the other scholars and see how they were doing.

How often do you check in with your supervisor? I check in with him in the beginning of every week. We were doing Monday at 1030 am but sometimes push it to Tuesdays afternoon if our schedule can’t accommodate the Monday morning meeting.

How often are team meetings? Team meetings are every week as well. I meet with the Human Dimensions team every Wednesday at 11am for about an hour and a half then the weekly Marine Reserves Program team meetings are also on Wednesdays but at 130pm till 3pm.

How do you stay motivated (exercise breaks, phone calls with friends, walking meetings…)? To stay motivated I make lists. I write down what I need to read and get done. I also try to make sure I have a clean work space before I begin doing work so I’m not distracted by any messes around me.

-What is one downside or your COVID-19 work routine? This is a huge downside but one downside of my COVID-19 work routine is not being able to interact with people face-to-face. I’m sure many others feel the same way. I do appreciate we have Zoom and other forms of meeting with others still but it’s definitely not the same as in-person interaction!   

-What is one upside of your COVID-19 work routine? One upside is that even though we are all doing remote work, I am still able to network and meet new people, and possibly meet people I wouldn’t have had the chance to meet if I was doing an in-person internship. I think that more people are willing to do meetings because of COVID. Mostly all of us are still doing remote work so I think that people are freer than they’d normally be.

My partner’s adorable Blue-Heeler mix dog has been my co-worker these last few weeks.
My “office.”

Planning for the Possibility of Offshore Wind on Oregon’s Outer Continental Shelf

One of the most interesting things about my fellowship is that while I technically work for the West Coast Ocean Alliance (WCOA) and West Coast Ocean Data Portal (WCODP), my duties require that I interact frequently with staff from federal agencies, state governments, and tribal governments, and liaise with them on specific projects. One project that I am working on at the moment is the development of an Oregon Offshore Wind Planner tool for the State of Oregon and Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management (BOEM), which is being hosted by the WCODP.

BOEM is the federal agency responsible for for issuing leases for renewable energy projects on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), and they have a Renewable Energy Authorization Process that they engage in before any decisions about leases are made in an area. BOEM must coordinate with governmental partners for this process, and the primary way that they do so is through Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Forces. These Task Forces consist of federal agencies, state governments, local governments and federally recognized tribes; there are currently fourteen Task Forces in the United States. While Oregon held its first Task Force meeting in 2011, they paused meetings for several years until September 2019. At this meeting, BOEM and the State of Oregon announced their intention to begin an offshore wind planning process, which could take 5 – 10 years and eventually culminate in the construction of offshore wind operations off the coast of Oregon— or, depending on the input from state, local, and tribal governments, and stakeholders— nothing at all. Since it is an effort that is ultimately about building trust amongst all of these groups, the beginning of this process involves a lot of planning and analysis— and the collection of lots of data and input from interested parties and stakeholders.

The first offshore wind farm in the United States off of Block Island, Rhode Island. We may have similar sights here in Oregon in the future, but not until after several years of planning and collecting input from different government entities and stakeholders (Image from Ørsted and Rhode Island Sea Grant).

In order to publicize and receive feedback on their strategy to gather and analyze data, the Task Force produced a Draft Data Gathering and Engagement Plan, which they presented at a remote Task Force meeting in June 2020 and received comments on for several weeks afterward. In this plan, the Task Force outlines their intention to use the West Coast Ocean Data Portal as a platform to house a map-viewer tool that highlights all the data to be used in the planning process, and that could lead to the eventual selection of what are called ‘Call Areas.’ The term Call Areas comes from the publication in the Federal Register of a ‘Call for Information and Nominations,’ which means that BOEM wants more information from researchers and stakeholders about that area, and nominations from developers saying that they would be interested in bidding on a lease there. In other words, they are specific geographic areas that will undergo further review to see if BOEM will accept competitive bids for leases there at the appropriate time in the future.

The working title for this tool is the Oregon Offshore Wind Planner, and this is where I come into the picture. I have been working with staff from the State of Oregon and BOEM to identify the datasets we want to include in this tool, and to make sure that we have the most up-to-date data as possible. Sometimes, this requires a bit of sleuthing, and in one case the data we were looking for seemed to have been lost in a fire where a server was destroyed. Fortunately, we tracked it down somewhere else!

A screenshot of the not-yet-released Oregon Offshore Wind Planner tool, with some example layers turned on.

Some of the places we’re looking include ERDDAP (a data access program belonging to NOAA), Marine Cadastre (A joint BOEM and NOAA initiative providing data to meet the needs of offshore energy and marine planning communities) and the Oregon Spatial Data Library (a joint effort between the Department of Administrative Services Geospatial Enterprise Office and Oregon State University). We’re also reviewing existing BOEM-funded reports on the West Coast to make sure we capture any relevant spatial data that comes from them.

Right now, the plan is to conclude this initial data-gathering process and release the draft version of the Oregon Offshore Wind planner tool this fall. At that point, BOEM and the State of Oregon will collect feedback from affected parties and stakeholders about whether they have all the data they should in order to inform the larger process that could lead to the creation of Call Areas off the coast of Oregon. This whole process is one that I was generally aware of, but never involved with prior to my fellowship— now, I’ve learned a lot about data management, made some interesting connections in the hunt for spatial data, and am looking forward to tracking this process long-term. For more information on renewable energy activities and future public meeting announcements for the Task Force, you can visit boem.gov/Oregon.

The Importance of Science Communication in Policymaking with the EPA

I’ve learned a lot about how science plays an active role in policymaking since the beginning of my internship. One key point I’ve learned is how important communicating scientific findings to non-scientific crowds is. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity in the past to teach a small after school program about science to children in elementary school because it has taught me how to make complex ideas more accessible to others. Science can be especially intimidating and being able to explain things in a way that doesn’t go over the audience’s head or make them feel overwhelmed or inadequate is important but challenging.

My view of science policy has changed since the beginning of my internship and my mentor has certainly opened my eyes to what may lie ahead if I were to go into this type of work myself. In an effort to not be overly political, I have feared that if I were to go work for a government organization such as the EPA, that dealing with the frustrations of potentially having a boss who denies the problem I am researching even exists would be too much for me to cope with. My mentor has worked under two different administrations so far and has mentioned that even though there may be disagreements between the administration and the scientists working for them, everyone deserves their fair shot at making the world a better place according to their vision. Talking with my mentor about this has helped immensely though and has further inspired me to want to work for such an organization so that maybe I could try to help better explain the issues at hand in an understanding and non-threatening way.

Learning About Scientific Policy and its Various Challenges…

After several weeks working for OCOIN, which centers around research on the Oregon Coast and surrounding areas, I’ve learned how important it is as scientists to not only make your research applicable to policy, but also making it very accessible to the general public. Environmental policy doesn’t just take into account scientific research, but overall public opinion as well. This makes it really important for researchers to educate the public with their findings.

I think this internship has given me a better idea of how policy organization works, despite not having been to an agency-level meeting (yet!). Since I work more on the technical side of things, I’m getting first-hand knowledge on how important it is for websites and presentations to be visually appealing, easy to understand, and very organized. (The organization part benefits us too during the editing process!)

With this being my last week working for OCOIN, I can honestly say that I’ve really enjoyed working with such intelligent and passionate members of the scientific community, on the research and policy-making sides. Every person I’ve met that’s involved with conservation has valued the well being of animals, humans, and wants to keep the world healthy. So by definition, they tend to be really kind and passionate people :) Based on this positive experience, I do think I’d like to continue my involvement with scientific policy in the future, at least in some capacity.