Working at the Town of Nags Head has proved the exact opposite to be true.
Armed with my laptop, clip-on phone case, pair of dark sunglasses, and a can-do attitude, I’ve taken to tackling the problems that most coastal communities shudder at the thought of: sea level rise, climate change, and future-proofing development. My task is relatively simple: ground-truth, analyze, and interpret any and all information that can help the town with these issues. My boss: an extremely dedicated, outgoing, knowledgeable principal planner by the name of Holly White. My partner in crime: Erika Munshi, always thinking of new approaches to the somewhat challenging obstacles we encounter in our office-going line of work. The semester has really flown by in Nags Head while we’ve aspired to be the best interns in the world, and bring a sense of “The Office” or “Parks and Rec” to the lively office of planning and development that literally sits on top of the protective shoulder of the Nags Head police department 1st floor of the town hall.
Our day officially starts with an 8:30 AM briefing with Holly in the planning nerve center for the town: her office. We discuss any weekend work-related developments and proceed to outline the goals for the day. Then we break off and spend the midday hours conferencing with various municipalities, binging on office coffee, speaking with citizens, and visiting local landmarks as part of our ground-truthing duties.
◀ An intern’s eye view of ground-truthing flood zone discrepancies
▶ Our analysis and ground-truthing incorporated into an official town presentation on flood zone changes
While Nags Head lacks the hustle and bustle of a large city like Charlotte or Raleigh, its charm and unique coastal demeanor make it a prime experience for a coastal planning intern. This past semester has allowed me to delve into local government as I never had before, and somewhat incited a passion of seeing positive change in citizens’ lives. From the heights of Jockey’s Ridge to the swamps of Nags Head Woods, a more diverse and gem-like multiplicity to publicly serve simply doesn’t exist on the NC coast.