My name is Jamie Wilson and I am currently interning with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in Dublin, Ohio and my position title is Conservation Benefits Intern. TNC works to conserve ecologically important land (and water) in all 50 states and over 30 countries. TNC partners with indigenous communities, businesses, governments, multilateral institutions, and other non-profits to enhance the protection of these ecologically sensitive areas. You can find out more about what TNC does, by visiting their website, www.nature.org.
The office I work out of is relatively small, which is exactly what I wanted. There are approximately 35 staff members that reside in the central Ohio location and about 80+ staff members across the state of Ohio. Some staff positions within the Dublin location include the Director of Conservation, Director of Government Relations, Freshwater Conservationist, Land Acquisition Manager, Protection Specialist, and a GIS Analyst, to name a few.
Budget deficits and the “smaller government” philosophy at the state and federal levels are placing increased pressure on public funding for programs that conserve our nation’s natural resources. There is a growing need for TNC to better quantify in economic terms, the benefits of public investments in conservation to help advocate successfully for continued public funding for programs such as The Land and Water Conservation Fund (federal) and the Clean Ohio Fund (state). My job is to write a research report and executive summary in layman’s language that will demonstrate and validate the public benefit (economic, social, and environmental) through state and federal investment in conservation and natural resource programs and initiatives in Ohio. My report will include concrete examples of TNC’s direct impact in the areas of benefit which will involve a number of case studies. The key conservation priorities I am focusing on are land protection, water protection, forestry protection, and wetland protection. My report will also identify conservation and natural resources-related industries, such as fishing, hunting, tourism, camping, etc. and their respective supply chains as key economic drivers in the state. I have the chance to enhance my already awesome GIS skills by making a number of maps demonstrating the key priority areas in Ohio for conservation and perhaps the encroaching development pressure surrounding each area.
I meet with my supervisor, Adrienne Dziak Director of Government Relations, weekly to discuss the project progress, ideas, possible adjustments, and problem areas or challenges. The audience for the report is the general public, elected and appointed local/state/federal public officials, and the media. The report will be used as a public awareness, educational, and advocacy tool. I have a ton of flexibility concerning this project and report which is great! Most of my time thus far has been spent researching and reading a ton of journal articles, state/federal reports, conference proceedings, etc. Also, I get to visit the TNC focal areas all over the state of Ohio and interview project managers at each site to gain a better understanding of why people come to visit those preserves. TNC has a very close relationship with the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources and the Fish and Wildlife Service and I have started to conduct interviews in those places as well.
I have already run into many familiar economic terms we all have encountered in Gautam’s classes. I have been reading a lot more Costanza that I ever thought possible and run into some pretty sticky contingent valuation and travel cost methodology. Big thanks to Gautam for his great introduction to those methods! I have already sat in on all-staff conference calls and heard all about beaurocratic problems on the national level first hand…and that is probably all I should say about that!
I have a good feeling this will be a great summer with TNC and I continue to learn new things every day. I have been pushed into the environmental economic arena a lot faster than I probably would have hoped, but I am enjoying each step of the way. It is great to work with like-minded individuals and see classroom academia translate into real-world applications!
Over and out, virtual world.
Master of Science Candidate ‘12
Bard Center for Environmental Policy