ARLINGTON, VA; From my very first day as policy and communications intern at Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE), my supervisor, Diane Hoskins has been very supportive of my ideas and interests.  She has helped me along the way encouraging me to take initiative, letting me sit in on calls with prominent governmental leaders, and exposing me to people, topics and experiences I never would have even imagined. 

When I first started at my internship, Hoskins solicited my help for RAE’s annual Dear Colleague Letter that the organization circulates in ashley medina left RAE intern volunteering kingman isl anacostiaz 042715both legislative houses of government, requesting funding for a certain coastal program. This year, I was able to help facilitate the process and encourage new members to sign on by dropping off letters to every Representative and senator presiding over a costal district/state. My hill drop, paired with Hoskins’s tireless outreach efforts resulted in more than 70 bipartisan members of congress signing the House version of the letter and 21 signatories for the Senate version. After each letter was published, RAE sent out a press release. I helped to draft the press release for the House Dear Colleague Letter.  After that exciting success, I championed my own venture at RAE. 

One of the most exciting projects I have worked on at RAE has been my ongoing Pinterest project.  With Hoskins’ encouragement, I was able to identify and explore a social media platform that our organization was not connected with.  I researched other organizations with similar mission statements and was able to draft a proposal which I presented to my supervisor and our development and marketing director, Harvey Potts.  Both liked my idea and were very supportive of me creating a Pinterest page for Restore America’s Estuaries.  The experience taught me to get creative, research, properly and eloquently present my ideas, and best of all it has made me feel like a real part of the team.  

Restore America’s Estuaries is a small organization but the way that it is organized is very effective.  Every Monday all members of the organization call in from across the country for a conference call with the organization’s President.  Everyone shares what they will be working on in the upcoming week, progress they have made and different struggles they have been having concerning their work.  It is a great way to stay on top of what is going on and make sure everyone is on task.  Since my very first week, I had been invited to sit in on the calls but until I was able to launch my Pinterest project, I never felt my contributions to the meeting were very interesting. 

It is very exciting sharing weekly updates on our Pinterest page with my fellow coworkers and the experience has opened a new door for me that I had not anticipated.  The project has given me an avenue by which to talk to other members in our organization.  I have had calls with coworkers across the country explaining my ideas, showing them how to work through different features of the new social media platform, and ultimately getting to know these people professionally. Because of this project, we are able to extend our organization’s message to a new audience and a little over a month after setting up the page, we have more than 60 people following our Pinterest account. 

While my supervisor gave me many projects to complete throughout the semester, her encouragement and interest in my ideas lead me to take initiative and seek out new and creative ways to revamp the organization and the way it is presented to the public. Through these projects, I learned how to research, present, defend, and articulate my ideas, collaborate with others, utilize new platforms of promotion, and practice informal and creative writing. Without my supervisor’s initial push, I never would have shared my idea. 

Hoskins’ great love and dedication for estuarine and ocean habitats has inspired me to seek out opportunities for myself in environmental policy.  Through her hard work, she is able to make policy changes that benefit not only America’s estuaries, marine life, and environment but her work in the field has ramifications around the globe. This concept is extraordinary because it is through championing environmental issues that I can indirectly help make this world a better place. 

Inspired by my semester in Washington D.C. and with my time at RAE, I am looking forward to foraging a career based around the environment.  I will be graduating with my BA in Political Science this May from Monmouth University and am hoping to find an environmentally focused job in my home state of New Jersey where I can utilize what I have learned at RAE.  Eventually, I would like to go back to school and get my masters degree around marine science/ costal policy.  I am grateful for my experiences this semester and will surly maintain the friendships I’ve made here at RAE as well as utilize the valuable skills I have acquired as I embark on the next stages of life.

Author: Ashley Medina, Policy and Communications Intern (Spring 2016)