A Look Back
At the start of my internship with the Haystack Rock Awareness Program (HRAP), I wasn’t sure what to expect. Working from home was a new experience for me, but a welcome one as I was excited to still get to be a part of the team despite the pandemic. Of all the different avenues I could have chosen for my project, I’m glad I picked one that had more of a community-based focus. Interacting remotely with different kinds of people in Cannon Beach gave me a bigger picture of how and why a site like Haystack Rock is so important.
By managing the different sections of my project, I have been able to improve my time management skills. Between blocking off time for data collection, interviews, and analysis, I have to make sure that I’m giving myself plenty of time to complete everything. I’ve also learned how to conduct a research project that focuses on more of the human dimensions side of environmental conservation. This was a great way for me to apply what I learned from my anthropology studies, while looking into the complex interactions between humans and their coastal environment.
As things are winding down and my data collection is now complete, I’m focusing on my analysis. With the visitor intercept surveys, I’m interested in understanding where people are coming from when they visit and why they come. I’ll also be paying close attention to respondent awareness of Haystack Rock’s Marine Garden status and visitor opinions of HRAP. With the business surveys I’ll be looking for why business owners think visitors come to the coast, which businesses are most familiar with HRAP, and what their perceptions of HRAP are. Identifying the businesses with weaker connections to HRAP will help illuminate where they can be strengthened.
Talking with residents and members of the local government over the past few weeks provided some free response answers delving a little deeper into their perceptions of HRAP and Haystack Rock. Their perspectives are being used to help create a legislative history and a guide to how Haystack Rock was able to enact their protections.
Looking to the Future
This internship with Sea Grant has been a wonderful learning experience. I was able to utilize a wealth of opportunities to network, build meaningful connections, and gain valuable skills for my future career in marine conservation. If I could give any advice to future Sea Grant Scholars, I would tell them to say yes to everything! Attend every webinar and networking opportunity you can because you never know what you might learn or who you might meet.
Next year I am planning on attending graduate school for a master’s degree. When I began my internship with Sea Grant, I was pretty set on obtaining a master’s in conservation biology. Now, after working with HRAP, I have started to take an interest in resource management and policy. I’m excited for my next steps and to hopefully visit Oregon someday to see Haystack Rock in all it’s natural beauty in person! In the meantime, I hope everyone is staying safe out there on the west coast between the pandemic and wildfires.