Memories of a High School Intern

Hi, I’m Anne Elise and I’ve been interning at Dogwood Alliance for the past 5 months. I’m a high school senior and as my school year and internship are wrapping up, I wanted to share some experiences that I’ve had here at the organization since January.

When I first considered the idea of an internship at the beginning of this school year, I knew that I wanted to find a work site where I could pursue my passion for the environment in a vibrant, engaging community of environmental activists. I also wanted to find a place where I could get a glimpse into my intended field of study: environmental policy. After doing some quick research about environmental nonprofits in Asheville, it was clear that Dogwood was the right fit for me.

Since starting my internship, I’ve worked on a wide range of projects that have helped me to explore environmental policy in great depth. I’ve done research about a local river basin, organized social media for the Wetland Forest Initiative’s 5-year strategic plan launch, and have even compiled data about Enviva’s potential expansion. However, my favorite project was research about how to pass the Wetland Forest Initiative through state-level governments. I began by learning about the best ways to pass legislation in three target states, then I scoured their state house and senate archives to find recent land conservation legislation. After a few months of research, the project culminated in a presentation that I gave to some of Dogwood’s partners about the best way to push the Wetland Forest Initiative through the governments of these states.

I’m typically a fairly reserved person, but interning at Dogwood has given me more confidence in public speaking, which is necessary because my internship has also opened up new opportunities. I was so proud of myself after that big presentation, but my foray into public speaking didn’t stop there; I spoke on behalf of Dogwood at my local Sunrise Movement chapter’s town hall event. It was my first big speaking event ever and I believe that I did well because the folks at Dogwood gave me the support and encouragement I needed to be confident in my speaking abilities and in the information I was presenting. Additionally, I was quoted in an article from Yale Climate Connections about high school seniors’ perspectives on climate change. It amazes me how impactful my internship has been in giving me a head start in my intended career field.

After 5 months here at Dogwood, I can safely say that my interest in environmental policy has only been strengthened by the amazingly passionate, intelligent people that I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside. As I study environmental policy in college in the Pacific Northwest and continue on my path to becoming head of the EPA, I will think back fondly on my time at Dogwood and remember it as the amazing experience that truly kick started my career in environmental policy.

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