Reading the previous blog by our fellow classmate Jason really warmed my heart and I feel great getting ready to write this blog out on the white porch in this autumn-like summer morning. And I see Jane! She looks happy cycling back from her trip to somewhere. Future OBX students, it seems September is a great time to go walking or cycling, so go use those sidewalks and trails. Anyways, I feel like we’ve had multiple FDOCs (First Day
of Class in case this isn’t a thing anymore for our future reader) these past two weeks: we started our first class, our first internship, our first capstone trip to the Buxton Woods, our first group Mario Kart, and so much more. I want to talk about my experience with my internship at the Nags Head Planning Department, but I hope that our readers will be able to read about our Buxton Woods experience from future blogs because it was a very special one.
I was very nervous on my first day. I couldn’t help but fidget around in my chair as I waited for Michael Zehner, the director of the Nags Head Planning Department. Soon, I was ushered into a room filled with cabinets bulging full of files, big maps and arts taped onto the wall, desks clustered with blueprints, and the planning staffs, Kate, Kelly, Kylie, Holly, and Michael, typing away in their offices; everyone was so friendly that I felt my sense of nervousness melt to excitement. I’m going to plan something!
We started to talk about the community of Nags Head and went on a tour around the town. Nags Head is a town on North Carolina’s Outer Banks that has a community centered around the coast, tourism, art, and parks. Most residents and industries rely on
septic systems, with the exception of the village of Nags Head, which means water quality control is an important task for the planning department. Nags Head is also vulnerable to floods, yet due to inconsistencies in floodplain mapping and modeling standards, many residents do not carry flood insurance, hindering the department’s vision of a resilient community. Next, to get a better scope of my ideal project, I attended meetings with the Public Works department, the local arts community, and the coastal federation and listened in to their projects.
I’ll be honest, I still have no idea what my project will be about. I don’t know whether I’ll be filing paperwork, doing fieldwork, researching law, or making maps. But from talking to the planning staffs and watching their hard work, I got the sense that they have done a lot for the community but that there is still so much more to do. Maybe my project will make a big change. Maybe it’ll just be a small blimp. But I know that whatever I do, I’ll be working to improve the lives of OBX residents and their interaction with the natural world. I am grateful for this opportunity.