By Passion Taylor, graduate student intern
As a graduate student at the School for International Training, I was given an opportunity to engage in reflective professional practice during the final phase of my MA program in Climate Change and Global Sustainability. The goal was for MA students to be given tasks and projects according to their knowledge, skills, and interests, to enable them to make professional contributions to the work of an organization, and to allow for their professional development and growth. During my internship with Ocean Connectors this past summer, we accomplished all of these goals and more.
Before my internship began, I was nervous that I would not be able to provide the help and support that Ocean Connectors truly needed, especially within such a short timeframe, or that my work would not have a significant impact on the organization. Fortunately, those fears proved to have been unjustified. Working under the guidance of the Ocean Connectors Executive Director, I felt fully informed and properly trained to achieve success during the course of my internship. I also felt that I would be contributing to several important projects with high potential for growth and far-reaching positive impacts for the organization and the local community.
During my internship, I was able to help prepare a new program from the ground up. The School Site Ambassador Program seeks to engage community leaders in National City, California with making the Ocean Connectors programs more effective by assisting with communications, public awareness, and project evaluations. The ambassadors will be directly involved with facilitating communications between the school sites and the organization, essentially serving as liaisons between students, parents, teachers, and organizational staff. This will help keep Ocean Connectors running smoothly, and will go a long way towards gathering feedback to support the organization through its next phase of growth and improvement.
In addition to the ambassador program, I also assisted with organizing and completing data entry to support the Ocean Connectors partnership with the SoCal Urban Wildlife Refuge Project. I used pre and post data obtained by Ocean Connectors in previous years from their sixth grade participants. The information collected asks general questions to assess what students and teachers have learned or gained over the course of the year. This helps Ocean Connectors to understand program impacts and to evaluate what areas of the curriculum may need more focus. Inputting this information allowed me to observe trends in how their participants are learning over time and which core concepts are being retained. Evaluation data such as this can be invaluable to an organization, and I feel honored to have been trusted with it.
My experience interning with Ocean Connectors was rewarding and highly educational. As an environmentalist, it is always a priority of mine to not only educate myself but to also educate others through example, and to keep an eye on how I am impacting those around me.
I am proud to have been able to contribute to Ocean Connectors in such a direct way, and I am grateful for their time and commitment throughout my internship. My only regret is that I did not have more time to give. As the 2021-22 school year is now underway, I am excited to see how the School Site Ambassador Program continues to grow in the coming months, and I am confident that Ocean Connectors will be able to make this program flourish.