My Internship at the Outer Banks Community Foundation

When Professors Linda D’Anna and Lindsay Dubbs began their preliminary OBXFS interviews last spring, I was at a loss for words when asked about what internships I was interested in. With their suggestion, I looked at internship blog posts of former OBXFS students. I had no better indication of what career path would be valuable to explore during my time studying at the coast. Needless to say, I was no help in my internship allocation process, and I express my sincerest apologies to Linda D’Anna Ph.D. Despite being the last person to find out my internship placement and the nervousness that came from not knowing, I can honestly say that in my opinion I had the best internship experience ever! 

The Outer Banks Community Foundation is a 501(c)3, philanthropic organization that grants money to the nonprofits addressing the Outer Banks’ most pressing issues. The OBCF and most community foundations function as a liaison between the community’s donors and local non-profit organizations. Notable organizations that we work with are Dare County Arts Council, Network for Endangered Sea Turtles, Mane & Tail and many more. The OBCF also administers 59 scholarships to deserving students graduating from Dare County High Schools. 

My primary interests working for the OBCF are community development and donor outreach. I completed three projects during my internship. The first was an annual appeal for our current donors that was delivered in the first week of October. We also outreached to around 500 potential new donors with the same flyer. The annual appeal initiates the “season of giving,” which aligns with the holiday season.  I incorporated images from all of our major interest areas in the

community: youth, special needs, disaster relief, humane societies, scholarships and organizations that target local food insecurity to name a handful. To the right and left are the front and back of the 2021 OBCF Annual Appeal.

Another facet that community foundations fill for the philanthropic system is holding and investing donor funds. The purpose of investing endowments is to create “forever funds”. Our investment portfolio has mainly low to moderate risk investments, and a regular accruing interest which combine to ensure that the funds will continue to positively impact the Outer Banks for generations to come. The second project that I completed was a detailed list of all the OBCF fund purpose statements. I did extensive research on our donors and our history of grants written to educate potential patron’s on which fund is best to make donations to support the causes they believe in most.

For background there are several types of funds that we maintain for donors. One type I researched for this project are funds designated to specific organizations, for example the Frank Stick Memorial Fund that supports the Outer Banks History Center and the Don & Catherine Bryan Cultural Series Endowment Fund. The other funds serve a general field of interest, like the Environment Fund and the Helping People Help Animals Fund. These purpose statements will be published on our website www// under our “list of funds” tab. 

The last and final project that I completed for the community foundation was a complete database of nonprofit organizations’ contact information from Corolla to Ocracoke. We work primarily in Dare and Currituck counties. Our goal for this project is to find organizations that do not have a rapport with the OBCF and introduce ourselves. Because we do not give directly to individuals in need, our impacts in the community are only as good as the grant applications we receive. To ensure the most impactful potential projects we want to increase our visibility and availability to the NPOs of the Outer Banks. 

A highlight from my time at the community foundation was getting to volunteer at Dare Art Council’s annual Artrageous Kids Art Festival with one of my mentors, MaryAnn Toboz and my friend from the cohort, Anna. I also appreciated the opportunity to attend our Annual OBCF offsite meeting with the entire OBCF board. I observed as they discussed prospects for the community foundation with our CEO President Chris Swain. 

My time as an intern at the Outer Banks Community Foundation is essential to my professional development and growth as a young adult with varied interests. Before this semester, working in nonprofits and philanthropy was not on my radar for potential career paths. I would like to thank Linda D’Anna for her visionary internship placement. 

My passions flourished in an environment that accepted and improved my skill sets and developed my understanding of social change. I would like to attribute my newfound knowledge about community outreach, development and engagement to the Outer Banks Community Foundation. This wonderful experience wouldn’t be possible without my incredible mentors, MaryAnn Toboz and Nandy Stuart. Our CEO President Chris Swain was a month into his new executive role when I came to intern for the office, and I acknowledge the revolutionary and amazing work he’s accomplishing at the community foundation already. My coworkers Scout Schilling and Jeff Dippold are the administrative and financial glue that keep the whole organization making amazing social change in the community. Special thanks to a renowned man of public service, former Mayor of Nags Head and Interim Director at the OBCF, Bob Muller for his wonderful insights into the world of nonprofits and participation in my projects. I will definitely miss our weekly staff meetings on Mondays, specifically our essential moments of inspiration! 


My favorite memories at the field site so far are the opportunities we have to explore the Outer Banks during field trips, facilitated by our directors Lindsay Dubbs and Linda D’Anna. Some work weeks end with a “field Friday,” when we’re collecting data for our Capstone. Other Fridays are dedicated to ecology lab work. Additionally our professors aim to apply concepts that we learn in both our ecology and management classes to our surroundings, through carefully organized group outings that often occur on Fridays.

A Friday in the Forest
One of the first “field Fridays” that we experienced as a cohort was a day of sampling in Buxton Woods. This field day consisted of collecting missing data from plots sampled the previous week as well as sampling a brand new plot, making our survey three plots total. We began this Friday with a breakfast from Orange Blossom Bakery & Cafe. I recommend trying a cinnamon roll or one of their famous apple uglies. The sampling was tedious and tiring, the incentive we needed to preserve was our pastries waiting for us in the van.
On other field days we’ve visited prominent members in the communities of Cape Hatteras and Buxton Woods. Some of my cohorts conducted their interviews on Fridays to assist in the completion of the sociological side of our Capstone Research. Through these “field Fridays” I learned a great deal about my personal capabilities.  Botany was never on my radar of potential hobbies before coming to the OBXFS, but nowadays I eagerly identify the same species from Buxton in other places. 

Our Frigid Friday on the Sound
The next adventure I wanted to highlight is our water lab. In this lab we aimed to hypothesize a relationship between water temp, PSI, DO, turbidity, and levels of Chlorophyll a. Originally we planned to take a boat on the sound and do our sampling aboard, but the weather was uncooperative. We opted to visit a few sites still, traveling by van instead. The first site was significantly easier than the rest because we took data from the familiar bulkhead at CSI. Oregon inlet was the second site that we sampled. Here we ran into a little hiccup, the pier we intended to conduct our sampling on was closed. Instead of packing up and pulling out of the parking lot, we adapted our plan to sample from the beach. You can see Jane on your right standing in the water with our YSI, taking parameter readings from 
a surface depth. Steve to the left is recording our lab activities on a GoPro for an OBXFS promotional video. I am a tall girl so I had the opportunity to take the YSI data at our max depth recorded in Oregon Inlet. It was empowering to face the turbulent sea in the name of science. From there we conducted our final sampling under the Baum Bridge and finally saw some emergent blue skies. Here we experimented with what I believe is called a Veredian Tube, a.k.a another state-of-the-art piece of equipment we borrowed from CSI. In the photo to the left Joseph is releasing the water captured in the coring device before we headed back to CSI. An interesting part about being at a field site is my exposure to so many unique research tools. I have a much greater appreciation and understanding for the papers I read for class after seeing some research methodology firsthand. Recognizing tools and techniques used by the published researchers is super encouraging. 

Full Friday of Fulfilling Activities.
Last Friday at the field site was dedicated to our ghost crab ecology lab. This Friday started off with a bright and early sunrise at Jennette’s Pier. We wanted to ensure the least disruption by tourists and beach drivers. We counted Ghost Crab holes in the sand and collected our findings on a data sheet with a specific numeric system to describe what we saw. The data we collect in this lab will contribute to a larger study on Ghost Crab population numbers conducted by colleagues of Lindsay’s who do research at CSI. When we were in the sand digging around for sand fleas and tossing hula hoops for science, I couldn’t help but feel like a little kid again. While at the beach we tested out a sand coring and sifting method to catch the sand fleas. This process is demonstrated by my classmates Keenan and Blakely in the photo on the right. To top off a terrific morning, we had a communing breakfast at Stack ‘em High. By the way, I was thoroughly impressed by their breakfast burrito.
After filling myself to the brim on hash browns, another classmate named Anna and I headed back to the pier to volunteer for one of our CAB members, Christin Brown. Christin is the director of education at the pier and invited us to fish with a group of students with exceptional needs from First Flight and Manteo Middle and High Schools. We had a blast and made so many new friends! After a few hours of fishing we made our way back to CSI and finished our plant identification process from our aforementioned vegetation sampling. The evening came to a close with a frightful trip to the Haunted Wanchese Woods.