In these past few months I’ve learned a lot about the International Marine Mammal Project of Earth Island Institute and saving cetaceans, as well as what I want to do in the future. I have also come to understand the diligence and dedication that goes into successfully running a non-profit.
I had no prior experience working with non-profits and the International Marine Mammal Project not only welcomed me with open arms, but also set the expectation from the start that I wouldn’t be flying into SeaWorld as an undercover agent freeing whales. I expressed my interest in legal research with the hopes of some day becoming an environmental lawyer, and they made sure to partner me with staff member Katherine Hanly so I could gain some legal research experience. I also was assigned some slightly less thrilling, but completely necessary tasks such as addressing envelopes and putting together thank you packages to donors. I cultivated my own green thumb by watering plants throughout the office. I even gained the experience of finding and comparing international flights for the International Whaling Conference (IWC) in Slovenia, which turned out to be extremely helpful when I looked for my own plane ticket to Denmark for my study abroad program in the Spring of 2017.
One of my favorite moments of this internship was going out to dinner and discussing the current and past lawsuits that IMMP has been apart of. This not only made me more confused as to whether or not I want to pursue environmental law, but also made me realize that there are so many ways to get involved with conservation efforts that protect oceans and marine mammals. Mark J. Palmer ended up scheduling a meeting for Emilia, the other intern, and me to go into San Francisco and meet the lawyers currently working on the case against SeaWorld. I left this meeting realizing that I want to pursue a career in environmental law, or at least for now.
My largest and most memorable project would be working with Mark on ECO. I remember when my supervisor Mary Jo Rice asked if I had experience with graphic design in order to help with the ECO blog during the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting. I recalled making a brochure for my Spanish class in 10th grade using a pre-designed template from Microsoft Word, so naturally my answer to Mary Jo was, “absolutely I can do that”.
Those four editions of ECO currently hang on the wall above my desk in my room. I remember Mark telling me to make a last minute edit to the final edition, which was adding an acknowledgement box that included a shout-out to me. I walked home that night, from the office, with a smile plastered on my face.
Throughout this internship some of the qualities I’ve further developed are my communication skills (being able to give updates about the research I was working on and where I was with ECO), flexibility (the time that I would come into the office and what task I was working on that day), time management, and of course my knowledge of dolphins and whales.
I am almost halfway done with my third year at UC Berkeley and it has been one opportunity after another. I’m majoring in Society and the Environment, with a focus on Global Environmental Politics in the College of Natural Resources, with a double minor in Geography and GIS. I’ve taken some extremely interesting classes such as Physical Science of Climate Change, Introduction to Environmental Science and Communicating Science and Conservation, while also taking the mandatory, less exciting classes (in my opinion) like Calculus and Philosophy. There’s no doubt that UC Berkeley is difficult and requires one to be intellectually driven and motivated, but it is the most rewarding experience when you get an A on a paper or midterm and you realize it’s all worth it. My favorite thing about this university is the passion and diligence. The expression “work hard, play hard” could not be more accurate when describing this university.
Mary Jo, Mark, Katherine, and Director David Phillips are some of the most dedicated, driven and passionate people I have met. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be apart of IMMP and to understand how a non-profit works. All of the experiences and skills I have gained throughout this internship will continue to further my career in marine conservation and the environment.
Plus, it never got old telling people that I helped save dolphins and whales at my internship.
A big thanks to everyone at IMMP!