It was mid-October, the Fall Break of my sophomore year at Duke, and I spent the weekend visiting Asheville and camping in Pisgah National Forest. I immediately fell in love with the city and the mountains and forests that surround it, and I knew that I would eventually have to make Asheville my home. Through the Stanback internship program and Dogwood Alliance, I had the lucky opportunity to do so this summer—while protecting some of the very trees that brought me here in the first place.
For the past eleven weeks, I interned on the Business Plan Development team for the Carbon Canopy project. Under the guidance of Dogwood Alliance’s Director of Corporate Engagement, Andrew Goldberg, I worked with two other Stanback interns, Arjun Wadwalkar and Yimeng Wang, to analyze the voluntary carbon market and think strategically about the Carbon Canopy going forward.
Interning on the Carbon Canopy project has been an interesting and challenging experience. It has pushed me to focus on developing new skills, but also to consider what skills I want cultivate in the future. The position also required me to think critically about certain environmental issues. My views as an environmentalist are constantly evolving, and it was formative to spend a summer tackling topics like the carbon market and corporate partnerships from an inside perspective. Plus, I lucked out with a window desk, where I could peer out of Dogwood’s beautiful brick house and watch a family of groundhogs scurry by us (an adorable source of inspiration).
In addition to working on the Carbon Canopy project, I also appreciated the opportunity to branch out and learn more about Dogwood Alliance’s other campaigns and organizational happenings. The staff made sure to introduce us to each of the departments and functions of the organization so that we could better understand how a nonprofit like Dogwood Alliance operates. Most enjoyable was collecting photo petitions for the Our Forests Aren’t Fuel campaign. It was great to get out of the office and interact with locals (and tourists), spreading the word about a cause that is important to me.
Interns were also invited to attend and participate in the organization’s board meeting. This was my first time gaining a hands-on perspective on how a nonprofit operates at the board level, and it was a valuable learning experience to listen in and even contribute to the conversation.
I truly enjoyed my time working with the wonderful folks here at Dogwood Alliance, and I loved living in Asheville, a lively city of music and culture and endless opportunities to get close to nature. In a way, Dogwood Alliance reminds me of Asheville itself: small, but with a big personality and a lot of heart. I can’t wait to see what the organization does next.