Holly White is the Leslie Knope of Nags Head

If you read the title of this blog post and didn’t get the reference – I highly recommend you check out the show Parks and Recreation immediately. It’s a about a lovable group of local government employees who work in the Parks and Recreation department in their town hall and make dreams come true.  Not only is it prime entertainment, but you might end up learning a little bit about the workings of local government while you watch!

While we’re on the subject of lovable government employees, it seems fitting to introduce some of Nags Head’s newest interns: Erika Munshi (me!) and Viktor Agabekov! But we’re not just any interns, we’re working in the world-renowned Nags Head Planning Department! And just like in Parks and Rec, the department wouldn’t run without the oversight of a brilliant leader like Leslie Knope. In our case, this fearless leader is Holly White – Principal Town Planner and our mentor for the semester!

Holly’s ongoing projects include creating a comprehensive town plan called FOCUS Nags Head and putting together a Coastal Resiliency Plan called VCAPS (Vulnerability, Consequences, and Adaptation Planning Scenarios) <- feel free to click on either project to learn more!

Over the past few months, we’ve been able to dive in to both the FOCUS Nags Head project and VCAPS by doing research, consulting  experts, and talking to residents. We’ve also been analyzing the proposed FEMA flood maps and groundtruthing flood damage from past storms in order to see which neighborhoods and properties may be affected by a change in flood zones.

In addition to our work with FOCUS and VCAPS, we are also working with Andrea Hitt from the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island to put together some messaging to send out to both permanent and temporary residents to inform them on how they can make their home more resilient.

Overall, my internship experience at the Town of Nags Head has been incredibly informative. Not only have I been able to better understand how local government works, but I’ve been able to work on a project that will help communities all over North Carolina’s  coast better prepare for sea level rise and increased storm events. I’m incredibly grateful for this opportunity and I’m looking forward to the rest of the semester!

Jockey’s Ridge: Data Collection and a Workout All in One


OBXFS's newest ecologists
OBXFS’s newest ecologists

The 11 OBXFS students are now officially settled in and the semester is well on its way! We spent the first two weeks of our time here exploring new places and learning about the important Capstone work we’ll be doing for the rest of the semester.

If you don't take a selfie - did it really happen?
If you don’t take a selfie – did it really happen?

In order to help us get comfortable with data collection, Lindsay Dubbs – our incredible ecology professor/chaperone/mom – sent us on an ecological scavenger hunt to learn more about the different landscapes around us.

Working Hard or Hardly Working?
Working Hard or Hardly Working?




We were lucky enough to have our first data collection site at Jockey’s Ridge! We spent the afternoon roaming up and down the dunes and making observations about nutrients, vegetation, and natural forces. The dunes were as exhausting as they were beautiful. After few hours of running around, the OBXFS squad was ready to finish collecting samples and relax.




Sunsets this incredible demand to be photographed
Sunsets this incredible demand to be photographed


Overall, our trip to Jockey’s Ridge showed us just how much fun data collection can be. Like all field work, it may be challenging and tiring at times, but the experience is more than worth it. We’re excited to see what the rest of the semester holds!