Ten Weeks Packed Full of Learning

I can’t believe that my time as a Summer Scholar is already coming to a close. Working with the Oregon Coastal and Ocean Information Network (OCOIN) has provided an amazing opportunity to see what my professional life will be like after I finish school. Within the OCOIN network, I have been able to gain a broader view of organizations working to provide for Oregon’s coast and have built connections with professionals within these networks. It has been a confirming experience working with people with common interests, with whom I can see myself working well with. 

My view this week, finishing up our updates to OCOIN’s Coastal Research Explorer.

While I don’t feel like I have a better understanding of what exactly I would like to do after school, I do feel more comfortable with the options before me. With OCOIN, I have seen a greater variety of professional tracks working within the environmental science realm. I have also learned valuable skills that will help me when it comes time for my job hunt. My biggest goal as a Summer Scholar was to learn ArcGIS, and I have gotten a deeper understanding of it than I thought was possible in just ten short weeks. Before this summer, I knew nothing about ArcGIS, but over my internship, I have completed many tutorials, had hours of hands-on training, been able to put my skills to use working on OCOIN’s Coastal Research Explorer, and have even had my share of troubleshooting to really gain a deep learning of this valuable skill. 

This fall, I will be starting graduate school at Portland State University, working towards my Master of Science in Environmental Science and Management. I will be a part of the Applied Coastal Ecology lab with Dr. Elise Granek. One of my goals as a Summer Scholar was to determine what I would like to research. While that is still taking shape, the vision of what it will be is much clearer. Throughout my internship, I worked hands-on with OCOIN’s Coastal Research Explorer, which hosts Oregon’s coastal research projects. This experience allowed me to see what research is taking place on the coast, aiding in my quest to find a research topic. I am grateful for the skills I acquired, the connections I made, and the hands-on experience I gained as a Summer Scholar. 

Resume Building

As a Summer Scholar, I work with the Oregon Coastal and Ocean Information Network (OCOIN). Updating their Coastal Research Explorer tool and leaving my mark on it is one of my most significant tasks this summer. The tool uses ArcGIS, featuring an interactive map to present research along the Oregon coast. ArcGIS is software that I have not worked with before, but I have hoped for the chance to learn it. With OCOIN staff, I have had one-on-one trainings, tutorials to complete on my own, and an in-depth opportunity to put these skills to use as I updated the Coastal Research Explorer tool. I am grateful to have the opportunity to learn such useful software in my field, fulling one of my goals this summer of learning a technical skill that I can add to my resume. With OCOIN, I have learned additional software skills, learning ESRI’s Survey123, Mailchimp, and becoming more proficient with the programming language R.

Working remotely, I get to take breaks in my garden.

Over that past year and a half, I have gotten used to working remotely. However, before this summer, remote work could get lonely. Working with OCOIN, I have daily meetings with staff and Zoom work parties with the other intern Charlotte. As a Summer Scholar, I have learned a new, more inspiring form of remote work, collaborating with those in my network.

Prior to my internship, I wished I realized that professional development could come from additional sources other than those directly related to OCOIN. While getting acquainted with OCOIN staff and tools, there was some lag time before I could work on my projects. I was invited to outside organization meetings, informational interviews, and offered training materials during this time. I was assured that while I could not start my projects yet, professional development was equally important. It has felt amazing to feel support during my internship to learn what I need. One of these learnings has been a deeper knowledge of the programing language R, even though it didn’t directly relate to my placement with OCOIN. Since this onboarding period, I have been quite busy with my OCOIN projects and have still been able to work through the expectations laid out for me while also fulfilling some additional professional goals for the summer.

The Importance of Networking

Working with the Oregon Coastal and Ocean Information Network (OCOIN) has provided me the unique opportunity of seeing the intersection of science and policy. OCOIN was established to facilitate collaboration between researchers and policymakers. When I first started with OCOIN, I primarily imagined OCOIN as an organization that makes research more available to policymakers. While this is a significant part of OCOIN, I also have begun to see OCOIN as the entity that can provide policymakers the opportunity to connect with researchers about future research needs. This collaborative relationship is imperative for the health of our coasts. 

Zoom Selfie! Remote working means lots of time spent on Zoom.

The lesson that stands out the most so far in my learnings with OCOIN is that this type of collaboration takes time. I had initially thought that the goals I had for my internship would be easier to accomplish. However, like any relationship, you must invest time and energy to create a lasting connection. This is a beautiful thing; the steering committee at OCOIN comprises individuals from various organizations throughout Oregon. While each person works for a different organization, they have a familiarity with each other, making it seem as though they work side-by-side. It is this healthy network of organizations that has been most inspiring for me throughout my internship. After college, I look forward to working for an organization that networks with others in the field. 

One of the agencies that has stood out to me the most is Oregon’s Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD). A couple of people from the OCIOIN steering committee work for DLCD, and they have been very helpful during my onboarding process. They have provided professional development opportunities such as ArcGIS trainings and an invite to a DLCD coastal staff meeting. Each person in the coastal staff meeting was very welcoming and introduced themselves to the other OCOIN intern and me. I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to learn about so many various roles within an organization. The meeting left me excited to finish my degree and start working for an organization that helps drive change in Oregon.   

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun

It has been a great few weeks interning with the Oregon Coastal and Ocean Information Network (OCOIN). OCOIN is run by volunteers, so I have had the opportunity to meet professionals from many organizations throughout Oregon. My first week was spent meeting the members of the Steering Committee to learn a little about them and their role within OCOIN. I have since begun to dig into some of the projects that I am working on this summer. The project that I am most excited about today is helping write OCOIN’s newsletter. I get to interview a researcher that I have wanted to meet, and we get to talk about their research.

My Home Office

OCOIN, being run by volunteers, was primarily operated remotely before the pandemic. While it would be nice to meet people in person, I feel as though I flourish in the flexibility of this environment. Another Summer Scholar, Charlotte, and I Zoom with while working to make our workday seem a little more personal. It is sort of like sharing an office with someone; I feel lucky to have such a wonderful “office-mate”. We also get to have weekly meetings with each committee within the organization, whether it be the whole committee or just a one-on-one meeting. My workstation can take place in a variety of locations. Typically, I am in the comfort of my home. However, this coming Monday, I will be wrapping up an inspirational trip to the coast. With the flexibility of my work location, I will be able to work with a view of the ocean, which is central to the work that I am doing. 

I have been encouraged to provide an outside perspective to help shape OCOIN. It feels inspiring to share ideas that I have to make a difference within the organization. I have been offered many professional development opportunities: sitting in on meetings, informational interviews with organizations I see myself working for in the future, and training to help develop the technical skills that I am looking for. Not even halfway through my internship, many of my goals already seem to be taking shape. I am so grateful for the opportunities provided thus far as a Summer Scholar.

Summer Scholar with OCOIN

This summer, I am interning with the Oregon Coastal and Ocean Information Network (OCOIN). OCION is a network that helps facilitate relationships between researchers, policymakers, and managers. I am proud to be a part of an organization that promotes the use of science in decision-making.

Joshua Fackrell : Remote working station

This summer with OCOIN, I will primarily focus on their outreach team, where I will be working to encourage participation with the network. To accomplish this, I will be helping to update OCOIN’s tools, the Coastal Research Explorer and the Oregon Explorer. In addition, I will be preparing newsletters and helping plan OCOIN’s Fall 2021 annual meeting. I will be working with another Sea Grant intern, Charlotte, who will be primarily working on the technical side of OCOIN. It has been great starting to collaborate with her and learning from one another. The OCOIN steering committee is made up of volunteers who work for various organizations throughout the state. So far, this has provided a fantastic opportunity to network with people and is providing so many new things to learn.

My work with OCOIN is perfectly situated with Sea Grant. By increasing collaboration between science and policy, coastal communities and ecosystems can receive the care they need. At the core of OCOIN is collaboration; I feel honored to be a part of their outreach team, helping to expand the users that participate with the network.