I spent the first four months of our internship period with The Nature Conservancy in Dublin, Ohio. My title was Conservation Benefits Intern and I had one task while I was there: write a research paper on the benefits (economic, social, and environmental) of investing in federal and state programs that fund land and water conservation. The first month or so I focused primarily on finding beneficial and quality papers I could use to provide a case that this kind of funding is critical to protecting our natural resources. I also spent a lot of time finding experts in the conservation and economic field and talking with them informally about some of these benefits in greater detail. Once I got a good sense of the direction I wanted to take the paper I presented a very detailed outline to both the Director of Government Relations and the Executive Director. The next couple months were spent writing, re-writing, organizing, and revising. This was the most tedious part of my internship as many of my co-workers had an opinion as to what they would like to see in the paper. At times the direction I needed to take the paper was not quite clear and at times very frustrating; does this sound familiar to anyone? Cough, thesis writing, cough.
This internship taught me a lot about the importance of staying focused, setting clear goals and sticking to them, as well as the importance of staying confident in what you are writing. A lot of times throughout this internship I questioned the direction I wanted to take the paper and fell too often into the opinions of other co-workers instead of sticking with what I thought; after all, I was the primary researcher and had the knowledge and capacity to write without needing the advice of people who were not experts in the field. Once I gained the confidence to actually write what I thought was important, my paper improved 110%. To be honest, I was surprised how much I drew upon coursework from BCEP, especially science and economics, and how much knowledge I actually retained! J I felt like my internship and the critical thinking skills I applied during school go hand in hand. A lot of what I did involved discussion and problem solving, the Socratic teaching style at BCEP really paid off!
I was involved in a committee that focused on broadening The Nature Conservancy’s donor base because, currently, the majority of donors are white males in their 50’s and 60’s (the typical stereotype). I contributed a lot of ideas of how to incorporate other groups of people and I found it astonishing that out of all the incredibly smart people I worked with, no one thought of making the land used for conservation a tool to attract different groups of people. For example, if TNC owns land in an area of town dominated primarily by younger people, allow yoga on the land or Pilates; something that will attract these people to the land and they see the purpose of conserving the land. Conservation means a lot of different things to different people and there is not one definition of conservation. Why not try to incorporate people’s needs and activities with the land, which will give people more of an incentive to donate their money to conserve areas of land where their activities take place. All in all, I had a great experience with The Nature Conservancy. It allowed me to exercise my critical thinking skills and put pressure on me to be confident in the research and writing that I was doing. I appreciated my time with The Nature Conservancy and will continue to keep in contact with some of my co-workers as well as my boss.