Hayley’s semester with The North Carolina Coastal Federation!

Hello, I’m Hayley and for the past few months I’ve been interning with the North Carolina Coastal Federation. I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside the staff of the Coastal Federation, but worked more closely with my mentor Leslie Vegas. Leslie Vegas works on the Ocean Friendly Establishments project and this was my primary project that I worked on with my time at my internship. When I first got to my internship, I learned about the different plant-based plastics. I got to see all of the products within the eco-products brand and was also educated about the downsides to plant-based plastics. This led me to one of my first projects in my internship. I made an infographic that outlined the differences between plant-based plastics and PET plastics, which is one of the most common forms of plastic. 

The infographic outlined the differences in production, environmental health and disposal. The purpose of this infographic is to be distributed and shown to restaurants and businesses that are being recruited to join the Ocean Friendly Establishments program in order to educate them on plastics. I also wrote a small paper about the differences between these plastics in order to emphasize that plant-based plastics can also be harmful to the environment, and that instead of searching for alternatives, it is more environmentally friendly to reduce plastic consumption overall. 

Another task I completed was creating infographics that communicated the harmful impacts of different single-use plastics. The three I completed were plastic bags, plastic straws and styrofoam. These are also intended to be shown to businesses to communicate the harms of plastics, in order to encourage a reduction in their business. Not only did I complete infographics for the Ocean Friendly Establishments program, I also went with Leslie to visit two locations for the program. One place we went was Jack Browns which is a burger restaurant near the beach. We delivered to them their certification and checked that they met the standards. We also went to Moms sweet shop to deliver to them paperwork to join the program. 

In addition to working on the OFE project, I also worked some on the NC Oyster Trail, and researched oyster trails in other states in order to learn about what we can do similarly in North Carolina. Additionally, I made a newsletter about plastics at my time at my internship. 

Overall, I learned so much from my time with the NC Coastal Federation and I would like to thank Leslie for being a wonderful mentor and providing me with experience.