THIS IS A GUEST POST BY SUMMER DUKE UNIVERISTY STANBACK INTERN YIMENG Wang
My internship developing a business plan for the selling of carbon credits in the virtual carbon market was such a novel thing for me. I was totally obsessed with the idea during my interview for the internship with Andrew Goldberg, Dogwood Alliance’s Director of Corporate Engagement. To explore a completely new field and really contribute my own effort to the project was a dream for me, and what I got as an intern in Dogwood Alliance is far greater than that. As a graduate student majoring in Engineering Management with a background in Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering, I didn’t have much experience with environmental work until I came to Dogwood. Work and life here made me think about the impact of human on the environment and ways to improve it more and more. Together with Arjun Wadwalker and Rachel Weber, I worked as a business plan development intern for the Carbon Canopy Project, which is a project that aims to protect Southern forests while profiting landowners and providing high quality carbon credits to the voluntary carbon market. My major tasks during the internship were to develop a feasible business plan for the future development of the project and complete a white paper together with reports on brand-building and recommendation regarding individual retail opportunities. Even though I worked on business plan development for other projects during my last semester at Duke, I learned a lot during this process from both staff and other interns, not only with respect to the project itself , but also the attitudes towards life and work. Besides Carbon Canopy, I also had opportunities to work on other projects. For the biomass campaign, I helped with phone banking and gathering photo petitions. Both of them required talking to people about the campaign and inviting them to join an action, which requires a lot of courage, and it was definitely a challenge for me. It often happened that people didn’t have much interest in our environmental issues, and I found the experience of being refused to be unenjoyable. However, it was worth it so that we could build awareness around the importance of protecting our forests and encourage more people to participate in the activity and make a difference. Getting to attend the Carbon Canopy Stakeholder meeting and Dogwood’s board meeting were such a plus for the internship. Attending these meetings and having the chance to participate in discussion granted me more information about the project and also about the structure and operation of non-profit organizations. My research also gave me insight on a key issue: how to raise people’s environmental awareness. Due to generally low awareness of the importance of protecting our forests, the price for carbon credits is not high enough to protect the forest or make the industry sustainable. That is the main reason that landowners choose clear-cutting over improved forest management: to make more profit. Clearly our work still has a long way to go. But with Dogwood Alliance and other NGOs along with their supporters pushing the issue with their projects and campaigns, we can definitely protect our environment and make a pact with nature. A big thank you to Dogwood Alliance and the Stanback Program of Duke University for making my summer in Asheville happen. The LaZoom bus tour, the Tourist baseball game and the friendly staff at Dogwood all made my internship one of my most unforgettable experiences in the United States. Farewell Asheville,. I will miss you.