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Conclusion of my internship at Mobile Baykeeper

Hey guys! I’m also in disbelief that my internship with Mobile Baykeeper has already come to an end this summer. It was a fantastic opportunity and experience that has benefited me tremendously, and I am so excited about the knowledge and experience I have gained throughout this summer.

Specific tasks and accomplishments from my internship that have supported my learning goals, as mentioned in my previous post, have included researching and compiling a word document of city strategies and approaches for achieving sustainability as a city, and also my involvement in organized cleanup events throughout the city of mobile. When I first set off to begin my internship, my learning expectations and goals included bettering my skills at researching, brainstorming, gaining public support through education, and implementing my plan in a successful manner. Through my research and the cleanup events, I feel as though I accomplished each of these, while leaving the last one up to the staff at Mobile Baykeeper to carry out for me now that I’m no longer there! Through my research of effective environmental strategies and programs found in cities within the U.S., I have expanded my knowledge of sustainable city planning significantly. I have also experienced firsthand what it takes to effectively educate the public about environmental issues and their mitigation through the educational cleanup events I helped with throughout the summer.

I will build off this experience during the rest of my time at Tulane and beyond in many ways. Firstly, as I mentioned in my previous post, this experience solidified my determination and desire to spend the rest of my life helping cities, states, and countries become more sustainable and environmentally healthy. It’s amazing to me that after spending three months working at Mobile Baykeeper, it only makes me crave the opportunity to do similar work even more. This craving motivates me tremendously going into my first semester as a USG senator. I will be within the Student Life committee working specifically on environmental issues and mitigation on Tulane’s campus, and will use the knowledge and experience I gained during my time at Mobile Baykeeper to work hard at making Tulane one of the most sustainable universities within the U.S. My time at Mobile Baykeeper will also give me more knowledge, understanding, and perspective in my environmental studies courses this year (I’m a poli sci and environmental studies double major), and allow me to think back and remember which city strategies would help mitigate each environmental issue we discuss/learn about.

After completing my internship, I now want to focus solely on the mitigation of environmental issues from the government’s perspective. After working at Mobile Baykeeper, one of the things that became most apparent to me was the importance of government action in truly creating a sustainable future. Without the necessary government action, accomplishing our environmental goals will be very, very difficult. Therefore, the next internship experience I would like to have is one within any level of government (city, state, or federal), working to implement the strategies I researched this past summer.

Advice I would give to a student interested in an internship with Mobile Baykeeper would be the following:

1) Ask as many questions as you can. The staff members at Mobile Baykeeper are always very busy, understandably, so they are usually very focused on their next task at hand. If you ask questions, they are more than willing to answer them. This helped me learn tremendously!

Advice I would give to a student interested in this industry/field would be:

1) Be patient! Making progress on mitigating environmental issues takes a ton of patience and time. Unfortunately, opposition will always be present when attempting to make positive change, especially when it clashes with monetary interests, but if you continue to work hard at educating those around you about the importance of sustainability and its many benefits (and creating an effective way to accomplish your environmental goals) you will succeed!

Lastly, I want to thank all of you for a fantastic summer and this wonderful opportunity. I’ve enjoyed reading all of your blogs and keeping up with your incredible experiences tremendously, and I’m so excited that each of us had such a wonderful learning experience this summer. I cannot thank CELT and Mr. Thomas enough for giving me this opportunity, and I hope that, now and in the future, I can help these great people as much as they helped me this summer.


Thanks again, I can’t wait to see all of you at the celebration soon!

Delayed Midpoint Report

Hey guys!

I’m sorry my second post is a little delayed! Things have been very very busy here in Mobile, AL. As mentioned in my first post, my main duty for this summer has been to research ways that Mobile Baykeeper and the city of Mobile can mitigate the serious trash pollution problem that exists within the city. After initially asking me to place more focus on determining a total maximum daily load (TMDL) for the amount of trash an entity in Mobile could produce, the executive director at Mobile Baykeeper encouraged me to compile a word document full of multiple environmental ideas and strategies, each given equal importance. Researching has been a blast, and I’ve found myself looking forward to waking up and going back to work each day. I’ve gained a tremendous amount of knowledge about particular city programs, in cities such as Portland, Seattle, and Baltimore, that have been extremely successful in cutting down on the amount of trash generated within the city, and also the amount of polluted stormwater the city generates as well. Through this research, my eyes have been opened to how truly important a city’s government is in helping a city become more environmentally friendly and progressive, and how much a city can accomplish when it sets its mind to it, or in this case, vice versa. Throughout my research, I’ve continued running into a reoccurring theme: the city of Mobile’s lack of efforts and overall apathy in attacking the source of their trash pollution problem. Although the city has just passed a new litter ordinance, which is a step in the right direction, the extent of this litter ordinance is requiring dumpster lids and dumpster reinforcement (with brick) by businesses in Mobile. Again, a city must start somewhere. But many facts I have uncovered about Mobile have hinted at an overall lack of necessary action within the city. For example, street sweeping is an important and basic service that helps cities cut down on the amount of trash and pollutants along city streets. Cities such as Baltimore have street sweeping monthly, weekly, and even daily, depending on the area being swept within the city. Mobile’s street sweeping only occurs every 6 months!

Another role that I have had while at Mobile Baykeeper has been the role of helping with trash cleanup events every Thursday. During the summer, Mobile Baykeeper coordinates cleanup events with missionary groups that are looking for community service opportunities within Mobile. Different sites for cleanup (such as parks, squares, etc.) are chosen based on how littered the area is.

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Check out this video! —–> mb 3

Throughout my internship, I’ve been monitoring my growth simply by measuring how much information I’ve added in my word document at the end of each workday. I’ve been sending an updated document to the executive director, Mrs. Callaway, at the end of each workday in order to help her easily track the progress I’m making as well.

What I’m most proud of during my time spent working here at Mobile Baykeeper is my being able to contribute in Mobile’s efforts to transform itself into a less trash polluted, and environmentally healthy city. This is exactly what I want to do with my life: help cities, states, countries, and the world itself become more sustainable. Therefore, having the opportunity to do this, even if it is in some small way, feels incredible and only reinforces my desire to spend my life doing it. The skills I have learned/gained during my internship so far are invaluable. I am much more knowledgeable of different approaches that can be taken by a city to accomplish its environmental goals, and I will be able to refer back to these approaches in my future career. I’m also much more aware of the important role that managing a city’s budget, or any form of government’s budget for that matter, plays in paving the way for pursuing environmental initiatives. Communicating to the public, and city employees, about the importance of long term benefits vs. short term benefits is also crucial in making progress environmentally. Not only will I be able to use this experience to help me in my courses back at Tulane, but it will also help me significantly in my role as a senator in USG.

Here are some pictures I meant to include in my last post!

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Blood, Sweat, and Baywater – First Experiences at Mobile Baykeeper

Hey guys! Due to difficulties with the blog and also my being out of the town the last week and a half, I’m finally able to post my first blog. Sorry for the delay!

I am interning this summer with an environmental non-profit in Mobile, Alabama called Mobile Baykeeper. The purpose of Mobile Baykeeper is to help protect Mobile’s bay and surrounding waterways, as well as monitoring air quality and preventing trash pollution in the city. This involves research, education of the public, and ultimately taking action (which relies in large part on the passing of policy within the city). As the Executive Director of Mobile Baykeeper has stressed to me, the process is: “Research, Education, Collaboration”.

Mobile Baykeeper is located right in downtown Mobile. Pictures will be coming shortly!

I had been familiar with Mobile Baykeeper throughout my childhood and especially during high school, due to their being well known in our county with the help of media and outreach events. Due to my interest in environmental studies, I applied for their available internship in hopes of joining their team. My internship responsibilities include conducting research for the programs department, writing regularly (including blog posts), synthesizing policy and scientific information for laymen, and attending community outreach events.

I began my internship right in time to help prepare for one of the biggest Mobile Baykeeper fundraisers of the year: the Grandman Triathlon. The fundraiser, held in Fairhope, Alabama (right across the bay from Mobile) accounts for a sixth of Mobile Baykeeper’s budget, and requires a long week of preparation. My first few days consisted of calling potential volunteers for the event. Then, as the event drew closer, I began to help set up the site. The process required the setting up of tents, food venders, banners; the placement of barricades; the making of signs; the preparation of the racecourse; and so on. And unfortunately, most of this took place in the rain due to ill timed weather during those few days. So, needless to say, it was a challenging few days, but we powered through and the triathlon was a success! I also met and worked with a ton of fantastic people/volunteers along the way, and grew much closer to the Mobile Baykeeper staff. They are all an absolute pleasure to work with and are very friendly! So, in conclusion, by the end of the week I had learned a lot about successfully planning for and managing a fundraising event for a non-profit.

After post-triathlon duties were finished, I was given the opportunity that I had eagerly been hoping for since I applied to Mobile Baykeeper. The executive director assigned me the responsibility of addressing Mobile’s trash problem by researching ways other cities have successfully cut down on trash in their bays and waterways, and creating an approach of our own. After beginning my research, I have learned that this approach must first involve conducting a study to measure how much trash is in Mobile Bay and surrounding waterways, and then determining a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) that limits the amount of trash that can legally be released into the environment by an entity within the city (a business or restaurant for example). I have been diligently working on this project since I have returned from out of town, and I am loving it!

Lastly, my main expectation for learning this summer is being able to successfully create the beginning stages of a plan/approach for cutting down on the amount of trash pollution in Mobile’s bay and surrounding waterways. This will involve bettering my skills at researching, brainstorming, gaining public support through education, and implementing my plan in a successful manner. It won’t be easy, but I’m determined! I will absolutely keep y’all posted on how it is going.

Hope everybody’s having a great summer so far!