Have you ever wondered wanted to go down a pathway where entrepreneurship meets environmentalism? Well look no further, this blog post is for you!
My name is Danesha Byron. I’m a senior at UNC studying Environmental Science, Geology and Anthropology. If I had my way, I’d say I study plants, water, and people. In the future, I’ve recently began to dream of opening my own recycling company where materials would be processed. I remember explaining to Corey Adams at the Coastal Studies Institute that I wanted to learn more about how trash is processed and how business/marketing is intertwined in this web. With this, I was able to obtain a valuable internship working with Herb Council at CanStandOBX. Herb Council is a former Wake County Commissioner and current marketing ambassador for the CanStand. His long-life love for protecting all environmental spaces is what made this internship enjoyable. The life lessons I learned while apart of this company will be carried forever.
Some of the fun things that I had the opportunity to do was meet politicians at the Town of Nags Head. I attempted to understand recycling systems as well as gain support for local municipalities to purchase the CanStand. I wasn’t able to gain support for purchasing, but I did learn a lot from these encounters.(See Local Government Section) Also, I was able to shoot, plan, and edit a video with the help of CSI staff and my friend from UNC.
I’d love to share some of the top things I learned while being apart of my internship:
The waste management industry relies heavily on the local government to set ordinances and partnerships to ensure residents are receiving resources. Also, these resources are paid for through taxes if individuals live within the district. There’s small amount of funding for different initiatives, therefore, solving environmental issues around the barrier island quickly becomes limited. The most interesting thing that I’ve learned is that every local government runs differently. Although, Nags Head is less than 10 minutes away from Kill Devil Hills, the local municipalities aren’t ran the same way, yet face the same issue. I sat for hours reading through Nags Head policies to figure out how projects such as sanitation and the septic tank initiative were funded for. I truly believe these are facts that every citizen should know and ask questions about.
In the words of Herb Council, “you have to love what you’re doing and be self-motivated. Because there’s no one tell you what to do and how to make your money.” To be a business owner, you have to have a morning routine that starts your day off, such as prayer or even meditation. As we’ve all been told throughout our lives, practice makes perfect. Repetition, partnerships, and learning from your mistakes is what it takes to be successful in the business world.
By the end of the internship, I realized that the recycling industry was not for me. I’d rather focus on reducing plastic waste because there’s no where for the recycling products to go to. There’s not many businesses that are accepting plastic wastes, therefore, the chances of plastic waste ending up in landfills are high. Now, I have new goals. My first goal is to learn more about water quality and sanitation issues that affects natural ecosystems and humans. My second goal is to seek getting into politics. I always seen politics as something that I could never be into because they’re slow and I never see many people that look like me. After speaking to politicians, I’ve come to realize that people like me are needed that have backgrounds in various fields that can solve everyday issues.
There’s so many ways to combine entrepreneurship, politics, and the environment on the Outer Banks. The options for internships are endless and there’s so much room to grow. By the end of the internship, I was able to read policies and determine the inflow and outflow of funds from the Town of Nags Head. Then, formulate questions to ask local politicians to see which issues they cared the most about. Each town has cares that are highest on their lists and they’re willing to collaborate on long-term projects. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!
Hopefully, this post aids you in your journey. I often ask these questions: What are you willing to spend your life doing? What challenges have you faced that steered you along this pathway or changed your pathway? Are you willing to try something that’s out of your element?