This semester I had the honor of working for the North Carolina Coastal Federation, a member-funded 501(c)3 organization with offices in Newport, Wrightsville Beach, and Wanchese, North Carolina. I spent most of my Mondays and Wednesday at their beautiful Northeast branch (picture below, and my personal office (they take really good care of their interns) even had a beautiful view of the Sound.
The Coastal Fed seeks to empower coastal residents and visitors from all walks of life to protect and restore the water quality and critically important natural habitats of the North Carolina coast. Much of my internship was spent with my amazing mentor, Sara Hallas, who is the Coastal Education Coordinator for the Northeast branch. I especially appreciated the opportunity of working with Sara because I rarely get the opportunity to work with kids in a way that is relevant to my career as a pre-law student. Sara and I traveled to schools or hosted students at our office to teach them about water quality and the value of rain gardens.
I also got to take part in a restoration project at Festival Island Park, where we dug a new rain garden and planted several native plant species!
The vast majority of my work, however, was in assisting the Coastal Federation with their Lost Fishing Gear Recovery Project. Started in 2014, the Project enables the Coastal Fed to hire commercial fishermen to collect lost or abandoned crab pots during the no-potting period from January 15 until February 17.
In 2018, 76 fishermen collected 3496 crab pots (or 1.7 tons of debris) along the North Carolina coast! From the collection, 2413 blue crabs and 761 fish were released from the lost pots.
My main focus for this project involved what to do with the collected crab pots once they are taken out of the Sound. My goal was to evaluate the costs and benefits of selling and reusing the crab pots, rather than scrapping them for the value of their steel as done in previous years. In this process, I have also done extensive research on the legality of selling the collected pots or even using them as payment for the hired fishermen, which has been great practice for my future legal endeavors.
Overall, my internship at the North Carolina Coastal Federation has been incredibly rewarding. If you live along the coast or love the ocean, consider becoming a member or attending one of their fun oyster roasts, happy hours, or other fundraisers. And if you are a potential OBXFS student, ask Corey to place you there for your internship! With opportunities in politics and lobbying, coastal science, education, and non-profit management, the Coastal Fed has something for everyone!