Environmental Resilience Institute Internship Grant Reflection: Archana Shekharan

Internship Location: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Journal Entry #1:

My name is Archana Shekharan, and I am a rising third year with double majoring in statistics and foreign affairs, and minoring in business Spanish. This summer I am interning with the Fishery Solutions Center at the Environmental Defense Fund’s San Francisco office.

This internship has provided me with lots of exciting opportunities, both in the work I am doing and by allowing me a chance to experience life on the west coast for the first time. 

My time at EDF has shown me what a career working in environmental science might look like. However, one of the main things that I have learned here already is that there are numerous angles and career paths from which someone could work to further sustainability. Within EDF itself, there are several different teams. Some employees focus on environmental issues from an economics standpoint, others focus on partnerships with businesses, hard science research, politics and policy, designing tools that can empower communities to be resilient, and much more. Even within the nonprofit sector, EDF shows environmental issues can and must be approached from multiple angles. In addition, because EDF is such a large organization doing work in multiple countries, I’ve gotten to learn about lots of projects on different issues that people around the office are involved in.

My work has been with the Design and Capacity Development team within the Fisheries Solution Center. The team focuses on engaging fishery stakeholders around the world in sustainable fishery management through education and easily accessible tools that empower local fishermen to take action themselves. My biggest project for the summer is working on the creation of a global learning space for fishermen. The goal of the space is to provide a platform where fishermen can engage in peer-to-peer learning as well as access educational content and resources linked to the page.

During the first few weeks of my internship, I conducted a landscape analysis of different platforms EDF might use for such a space. Then, I analyzed the platforms based on their features and popularity in the FSC’s 12 target countries to identify the best platforms to use. I also conducted research on successful social media movements, adult learning, online learning, and microlearning to develop a set of best practices and recommendations for how EDF should build its platform. Currently, I am building a pilot online learning space that EDF hopes to launch in beta in Mexico. We are planning to showcase the pre-pilot site to EDF’s Mexico office for feedback in order to make necessary changes. The plan is to launch the pilot at a series of workshops in Mexico in mid-August to gain feedback from real potential users of the platform. This process will continue so that EDF can make iterative revisions to the learning space before actually launching the platform. I am so excited that I have the opportunity to lay the groundwork for this exciting project this summer. When launched, the learning space will make education on sustainable fisheries management more accessible than ever to fishermen who may not be able to easily access traditional education. In addition, users of the learning space will be able to learn from each other and easily access the tools they need to develop a sustainable management plan for their fisheries.

I have really been enjoying my time here at EDF so far, and am excited to see what the next half of my internship holds! Thank you so much to the Environmental Resilience Institute for this opportunity!