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August 29, 2023
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September 7, 2023

The End of an Era (Internship)

Author: Eliana Stern

As a rising college senior at Stanford University majoring in Earth Systems with a focus on Human-Environmental Systems, I’m fascinated by the convergence of human infrastructure and ecological processes. Knowing that our response to the changing climate and global ecology requires profound shifts in our systems and behavior, I’ve dedicated my studies to understanding how equitable and resilient transformations can be driven across various sociopolitical sectors.

I joined Great Ecology this summer, eager to learn about environmental consulting as a professional path through which I can effect positive ecological change. When I initially accepted the internship offer, I had begun to explore landscape architecture as a field in which I could bridge my ecology- and policy-driven background with my more creative and artistic pursuits. Although I initially had limited insights into environmental consulting, my time at Great Ecology opened my eyes to its diverse and creative aspects. From compliance monitoring to market and regulatory assessments, my involvement spanned an array of tasks and project phases.

I found myself quickly immersed in hands-on experiences – working waist-deep in water treatment wetlands, surveying for nesting birds at the crack of dawn, relocating the endangered Desert Pupfish, and more. This broad exposure allowed me to explore all different aspects and stages of Great Ecology’s work, from the desk as well as the field.

One of the most valuable things I’ve learned this summer is the importance of effective communication. From collaborating with a diverse team of ecologists and designers, I’ve witnessed how successful projects hinge on clear and concise conveyance of ideas. Bridging the gap between scientific jargon and plain language is essential for conveying ecological concepts to a wider audience. I’ve encountered this linguistic divide when communicating complex topics like phytoremediation or mitigation banking, and clarifying my environmental communications is a practice I will continue to hone throughout my career.

My time at Great Ecology has helped me pinpoint areas for specialization within my generalist background. As I approach my final year of college, I’ve gained a clearer direction for my studies. I plan to enhance my technical proficiency through courses on GIS and R, and engage in design studio classes to fuse my ecological foundation with my passion for creative problem-solving. I’m so grateful to have been given the opportunity to work alongside such a talented and supportive team at Great Ecology, and I can’t wait to keep up with all the exciting projects and developments I’ve contributed to this summer!