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Staff Spotlight: Our Brilliant Interns and Volunteers!

From high school students up here in Cambridge, to graduate students down in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, EcoLogic has the most incredible interns right now—none of whom get us coffee or run errands! Internships at EcoLogic can lead to many places. Past interns now hold jobs at the Gates Foundation, the World Bank, and the UN Development Program, among others—in fact, four of our current staff members started as interns, including our Executive Director!

intern

EcoLogic Intern? Nope! (Photo Credit: Ben Sanders, MarketWatch)

Annie Spaulding

EcoLogic Intern? Ding ding ding! (Intern: Annie Spaulding, Photo Credit: Amanda Foster)

Geographical Information System (GIS) Teams:

EcoLogic is lucky enough to be working with several students at Tufts University and several more at Brown University to create maps of our project areas for various purposes. For more info about GIS, you can refer to this “totally spatial” blog about how spatial mapping works and why we use it, written by star intern Christine Gregory! We are also grateful to Jessie Norriss, a lab assistant at Tufts and GIS coach who has been working as an outside resource for various EcoLogic interns since October 2015 advising GIS projects. Jessie believes that there is immense power to make more informed decisions based on GIS datasets. Here are some GIS team members and what they are learning so far:

  • Seth Pate has been a volunteer at EcoLogic since February, and has learned more about open-source GIS software and how they can be used to solve particular issues: “I enjoy the challenge of translating some of my technical skills into a much different field than the defense projects I’m used to working on.”
  • Madeleine Ball has helped map parts of Huehuetenango, Guatemala, since the beginning of 2016. Madeleine loves the the collaboration she has experienced working with EcoLogic: “Everyone I have spoken to has been so helpful, kind, and inspiring. The EcoLogic crew seems so passionate about what we are doing and that passion is contagious!”
    • John VanderHeide has created some basic maps of the Ixcán project site in Guatemala: “I have been learning a ton about finding and displaying GIS data and how that can be used to improve project planning and implementation for EcoLogic.”
  • Andrew Wiley has been a volunteer since the beginning of February, and so far, feels that his greatest value has been in helping to track down datasets, and help EcoLogic better manage GIS data.“It has been nice to be exposed to some of the big data sets that are out there, and I have learned about and used several new GIS tools in this process!”

“Communities believe and trust in EcoLogic and want the organization to stay with them in their path to find hope and sustainability. EcoLogic is committed to the communities they work with for the long term, and I love that.”

Lola Herrera,
EcoLogic volunteer fisheries expert

Ocean Expert:

Lola Herrera is helping EcoLogic with our binational fisheries project between Guatemala and Belize. Lola’s passion for the coast and the ocean, her Master’s coursework in Marine Affairs, and her involvement with USAID projects in Latin America make her the perfect expert to advise on our binational project and share her opinions and ideas with us. Lola is from Spain and cares deeply about supporting Latin American communities to find sustainable livelihoods. Lola’s favorite experience with EcoLogic so far was joining us on our all-staff retreat in January: “I loved meeting the team in Guatemala and sharing their passions. I felt part of them. EcoLogic is a great organization that establishes strong relationships with the communities… Communities believe and trust in EcoLogic and want the organization to stay with them in their path to find hope and sustainability. EcoLogic is committed to the communities they work with for the long term, and I love that.”

Translator:

Flor Monroe is from Colombia and a Master’s student in Clark University’s Environmental Science and Policy program. She has been helping EcoLogic translate documents since November. She has supported us in translating a Participatory Planning Manual. In her work she has learned just how many solutions there are to improve livelihoods and promote sustainable natural resources management in Central America: “For me it has been fabulous working on assignments that allow me to use my primary language and apply my knowledge and experience.”

Participatory Methods Intern:

Amanda Foster, a Master’s student at Brandeis in Sustainable International Development, has been working with EcoLogic for about three months, and is focused primarily on considering how to systematize participatory methods throughout EcoLogic’s work in the field in order to ensure active community involvement. This work includes the revision of a practical guidebook to participatory tools, as well as offering recommendations for incorporating new elements to continually enhance community participation in the project planning process. Amanda has learned a great deal about the nuances and challenges of facilitating truly participatory development: “Effectively engaging the most disadvantaged members of communities in the development and conservation process is no small ordeal, but my experience with EcoLogic has reinforced that this high-level community participation is critical to the success and long-term sustainability of any conservation initiative.” Amanda, who is currently interning out of our regional office in Guatemala, also joined EcoLogic during our all-staff retreat: “There is such a wealth of knowledge and experience within the team, and a genuine passion for environmental and social change, which is refreshing and inspiring! I had the opportunity to facilitate a participatory workshop in Totonicapán, Guatemala, which was a fantastic experience, and certainly a highlight of my time with EcoLogic.”

Data Collection:

Annie Spaulding, a student in Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment Master’s in Environmental Management program, has been working with EcoLogic as a Data Collection/Storytelling intern since she moved to Guatemala in January. She has extensive experience in community-based development and is an expert in composting, having previously led a nonprofit as Chief Administrative Officer/Development Officer (CCREF)
at the US Composting Council. Annie’s work involves helping EcoLogic with data collection and refining monitoring and data management systems. Her work is helping strengthen EcoLogic’s ability to capture and utilize storytelling (for which she enrolled in a free course by Acumen) as well as helping us improve of use and management of data.

Communications/Research

Last but not least, our youngest intern is Madeleine Lehner, from Buckingham Browne & Nichols School, who will be a freshman at Middlebury College next Fall. She is following in the footsteps of Edwin, Sarah, and Jaya, whose internships were featured on the cover of the BB&N bulletin last year! Madeleine spent much of her childhood living in New Hampshire where her passion for the environment was born, and now she leads a group at her school that promotes environmental awareness and activism.

We are excited and honored to grow the EcoLogic family with interns and volunteers of so many different levels of experience, areas of focus, and backgrounds. Our interns and volunteers are truly making an impact on our work and we could not be more grateful. ¡Muchísimas gracias!

If you are interested in learning about current internship opportunities, please click here.

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