My Summer Internship with Dogwood Alliance

Written by Chao Li

Without a doubt, my summer with Dogwood has been the most impressing and meaningful time in my life. Let’s roll back to the very beginning of my interview, when Haiz Oppenheimer, Dogwood’s Campaign Organizer at the time, told me the success story of the Staples campaign, forcing Staples to make environmental sustainability commitments. I knew then that Dogwood Alliance was a non-profit organization that would share me with its powerful spirit, but it turned out what Dogwood gave me was far greater than that.



Before I came to Dogwood Alliance, I did not have any previous work or intern experience, and this made me wonder what the real world working experience would be like. Some people warned me that the adult’s world is cold and relentless, and it is quite difficult to make friends with co-workers. Well, based on my summer in Asheville, this theory is not sound at all. I fell “in love at first sight” with Dogwood when I saw the red brick two-story house with both a scent of history and a gorgeous appearance. In the following days, I was constantly welcomed by all kinds of warm greetings and given considerate tips, including the famous local restaurants, music halls and art galleries. Moreover, with a little help from Dogwood’s orientation program, I seamlessly transferred from campus life to my internship, during which I learnt how Dogwood Alliance operates, its origin and the details of my summer project; not to mention fun things like where to put the recycling and compost as well as the story of the conference table, which doubles as a ping-pong table.

Under the supervision of Andrew Goldberg, the Director of Corporate Engagement, I put much effort into Dogwood’s Carbon Canopy Project, focusing on current corporate carbon policy, creating a report summarizing the voluntary carbon market while building a bibliography of forestry-related carbon offset projects. At the beginning of my research, I was confused with many abstract carbon market terms, such as “carbon registry” and “carbon verified”. Carbon Canopy did me a great favor in teaching me the development process involved in a carbon project as well as the appropriate lingo. Carbon Canopy successfully developed a carbon project, persuading the landowners to keep a number of acres of forestry from being clear-cut to sell the saved carbon offsets as carbon credits to corporations instead. I witnessed the whole negotiation process and met many brilliant people from many professions, ranging from forestry consultants to project verifiers. In addition, the Washington, DC carbon market meeting, reviewing the State of Voluntary Carbon Market Report, also let me gain deeper insight into the details of this carbon market. Thanks to Dogwood Alliance and Andrew, who provided me with valuable opportunities to participate in the practice of this carbon market, I gained precious experience that I couldn’t have found in the classroom.

Besides the impressive working experience, Dogwood Alliance is also a great expert in entertainment and relaxation. Among all the fun events, the LaZoom bus tour is absolutely my favorite, during which I kept laughing all the time. Though, to be honest, I did not get the jokes most of the time, and this made me believe that laughter is contagious. Though it was rainy around Independence Day, with baseball games and with delicious cuisine prepared by Patrick Fitzsimmon, Dogwood’s Director of Development, the magnificent scene of fireworks was not ruined at all. (Patrick, thanks for the invitation!) Moreover, the beautiful hiking routes along the Blue Ridge Parkway and all the fun musical and art events made this summer even more enjoyable.

Dogwood Alliance is like a big family to me, where each of us worked together in a cute house while sharing the same belief, spirit and, above all, mission to protect Southern forests. I would like to sincerely thank everyone at Dogwood Alliance, for all the help, advice, instruction and kindness. I will always cherish the precious and valuable memory of my summer with you all.

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