My six months interning for Turtle Island has reached an end, and as I wrap up my last week here I am in awe of the amount of work I have accomplished in such a short time frame, and of the experiences I have gained.
I started off my first week in August helping with a five-day teacher workshop called the Summer Salmon Institute, and I can’t think of a better way I could have been introduced to the organization, the work they do, and the people they inspire.
Because Turtle Island is relatively small, I am constantly impressed by the amount of work they are able to accomplish, assuring it’s possible for a few dedicated people who are passionate about a cause to make a difference.
My official title, Fundraising and Communications Intern, held true to its name, while still being flexible and providing opportunities to participate in all aspects of the organization including restoration and education outreach.
I’ll admit I knew very little about the development of a non-profit organization when I first began. The terms “990 PF” and “affinity group” were not yet apart of my vocabulary. I did know that I love sea turtles and other marine life, and would gladly participate in any work that contributed to their recovery.
Without our Director of Development Erica Heimberg and others, Turtle Island would not be able to carry out the important work that they do. I quickly learned how valuable it is to know how to fundraise for an organization, and how to be creative about it! I enjoyed coming up with different ways to engage the public in supporting our work through social media campaigns, creating photo collages, and promoting Turtle Island’s diving expedition to Cocos Island, Costa Rica to track and research sea turtles and sharks in order to create a marine protected swimway – a trip I would love to go on someday!
I also spent time researching prospective donors and foundations, and assisting in preparation of proposals, reports, and other updates to funders. I had fun creating photo layouts for these funders to show them the success of our work through pictures. Through these assignments I learned about Turtle Island’s programs in greater detail, and strengthened my own writing at the same time.
I also learned about the natural history of Marin, the threats sea turtles and other marine wildlife face from irresponsible fishing practices, and the significant impact humans have made on the endangered coho salmon in the Lagunitas Creek Watershed in California. I learned that every species has a story, and the only way to help protect them is by sharing it.
Aside from work related activities, I quickly realized you could never be bored living in the Bay Area. I felt the largest earthquake to hit Northern California in 25 years, I participated in the Oakland Climate Rally in solidarity with the NYC climate march dressed as a sea turtle, visited the famous Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, whale watched at Bodega Head, camped in Sequoia National Park, and overall enjoyed the natural beauty of West Marin!
As I leave I know I am taking with me skills that will be useful to any field, newfound friendships, and a greater appreciation for the work it takes to protect our environment.
To learn more about foundation research, and what a “990 PF” is you can visit www.foundationcenter.org.