Summer Reflections at the Rock

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.

Final Weeks   

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.  

Sea Star at Haystack Rock

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.

Take care, and thanks for reading!

A photo of me from my workspace this summer

Moving Forward at Haystack Rock

Halfway Point

Moving past the halfway checkpoint of my internship almost doesn’t feel real! Now that I have become fully immersed in my research with the Haystack Rock Awareness Program (HRAP), time is flying by. It is so great to be a part of a team that shares my passion for environmental stewardship.

One of the most important things I’ve learned so far is just how connected people feel to Haystack Rock. Its icon status and beauty are not lost on the public, even if they see or hear about it almost every day! Both residents and visitors come to appreciate the rocky intertidal zone and every animal that lives there. HRAP remains a part of facilitating that connection as well, and I’m excited to continue unpacking the different ways it’s done. By the end of my internship, I’m planning on having a clear view of how those connections can be strengthened.

Project Progress

The bulk of the field work I have been doing so far involves reaching out to businesses in Cannon Beach and administering a short survey. Through this, I’ve been able to strengthen my communication skills by explaining my project in a short amount of time. Calling during business hours means that most people only have a few minutes to spare. I have had to learn how to quickly explain my project and its importance in a way that motivates people to participate. As I finish up with business owners, I will be engaging with members of the government and residents next.  

Graphic depicting the four interest groups in my study

I am also about to start analyzing some of my data as field work is wrapping up using Statistical Product and Service Solutions, or SPSS for short. This will be my first time using this program, so I am excited to start learning the ins and outs. I’m always looking for new ways to expand my skill set, and this will be a great addition!

Working Remotely

As I have spent the summer working remotely, I have come to realize the importance of having a schedule. Waking up at a certain time and scheduling in breaks to move around have become essential for a productive day. While I’m not the biggest fan waking up early, I always seem to be at my best in the morning. Funny enough, the opposite was true while I was an undergrad!

While our world continues to develop around the pressing health crisis, remote work and socially distant meetings are likely to be a part of our new normal. Over the course of the summer, I have been able to attend a whole bunch of webinars and networking events. This has definitely been a valuable addition to my time with Sea Grant. There are so many professionals who are open to having conversations about their work and post-grad journey. Hearing about their experiences and receiving advice is exactly the kind of thing I need to continue my career path. I am looking forward to maintaining these connections and someday becoming a mentor myself!

Thanks for reading!  

Nudibranch at Haystack Rock

From the Books to the Beach

Policy in Action at the Haystack Rock Awareness Program (HRAP)

A lot of the research I am doing at HRAP this summer is revolving around a policy that was written in 1990 and included in the Oregon Ocean ­Resources Management Plan. The document ­recommended ­numerous ­programs to protect and benefit ­Oregon’s coastal environments–including the ­designation of Intertidal Marine Gardens.

Haystack Rock is now one of seven Marine Gardens along the Oregon coast that have special sets of rules. These include prohibiting people from collecting plants or animals and climbing above the high tide level onto the rock. The plan also encourages educational programs, like HRAP, to promote public use of Marine Gardens as long as visitors do not jeopardize the environment’s health.

On a positive side, this policy has been protecting the delicate marine life for years and has allowed it to flourish. Staff and volunteers at HRAP are hard at work everyday engaging with visitors and encouraging them to safely appreciate the environment. You know what they say—take nothing but pictures, leave only footprints! On a downside, lots of activities people previously took part in, such as climbing on rocks or exploring caves, are not allowed. Sometimes, visitors wonder why this is. Once they realize it helps minimize disruptions, they are usually pretty receptive to the rules!

Haystack Rock, taken from HRAP’s Facebook page

Unpacking HRAP’s Success

I have learned quite a bit so far during my time with HRAP, especially about how this policy works within the community. One thing I really appreciate is the immense amount of support HRAP receives from its partners. Friends of Haystack Rock (FOHR) is a non-profit in the area that works closely with HRAP to achieve similar goals. I attended a board meeting last week and was better able to understand the collaboration and partnership serving Haystack Rock.

Part of the reason HRAP has been so successful at protecting Haystack Rock is because of partnerships not just between other orgs, but also between businesses and residents. During the next few weeks of my project I’m excited to continue unpacking those connections a bit more. One of my intended outcomes is to identify different ways community connections can be strengthened as well.

A Future in Environmental Policy?

In trying to illuminate the effects of Marine Garden status, my understanding of environmental policy continues to grow. It is so important to ensure there is a constant flow of information between researchers and policy makers. I am definitely interested in learning more about that process as I go forward. Now more than ever, it is time to build bridges between science and policy to keep us on track towards healthy oceans!

Thanks for reading!

Sea stars at Haystack Rock, taken from HRAP’s Facebook page

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

Summer Initiatives at Haystack Rock

This summer I am going to be interning with the Haystack Rock Awareness Program (HRAP) located in Cannon Beach. While I was hoping to bear witness to the 250-foot monolith that is Haystack Rock in person, alas the pandemic continues to throw curve balls. My summer project will be done remotely. While I am grateful for my safety at home, this change is certainly an adjustment. However, you know what they say–a smooth sea never made a skillful sailor!

Summer Plans

So far, my plans for this summer include conducting a cost-benefit analysis from a few different perspectives. These will include the local government, visitors, business owners, and residents. I am also doing research on the history of the protections at Haystack Rock. The histories will come from both reviewing literature and from oral histories of long-time residents of the area. I will also use this information to create a model for how to implement protection measures, like those at Haystack Rock, in other coastal areas.

I believe the outcome of my project will be useful in spreading awareness on the effects of protected areas. By adding to a growing body of research as well as creating educational materials, I will be furthering HRAP’s mission to protect the delicate marine life at Haystack Rock and educate people about it. This area attracts a large amount of tourists, especially during the summer season. Anywhere from 100-200 people visit a day! It is important that they are knowledgeable while also enjoying the beautiful sites.

I am also looking forward to strengthening the connection between HRAP and the coastal community. I will accomplish this by working closely with partner orgs, communicating with members of the government, and surveying HRAP’s visitors. It will contribute to Oregon Sea Grant’s vision of a thriving coastal community and ecosystem by strengthening the relationship between the two. Today is my fourth official day on the job, and I am just getting started. I am excited to make a meaningful contribution this summer!