Developing internships for the council’s future

Council Outreach Coordinator

Lisa Matlock makes a new friend at the 2014 Copper River Wild! festival in Cordova.
Lisa Matlock makes a new friend at the 2014 Copper River Wild! festival in Cordova.

In February 2015, the council will be 25 years old. We are an organization in transition, created by one generation and moving to the next. In the past year alone, several board members and long-time staff have retired, or, sadly, passed away. At every meeting, the board discusses the importance of finding and recruiting passionate younger citizens who will eventually be called upon to represent the council’s member entities and work on behalf of our mission. To help answer this need, the council has been developing an internship project to engage the next generation.

Pilot internships

The project began in 2014 with two interns working on very different pilot projects. Cordova High School student Sarah Hoepfner spent a few hours each month of the past year using traps and plates to monitor for European green crab and invasive tunicate species in the Cordova area. She also worked with several classrooms in Cordova this spring and at the Copper River Wild! Festival this summer to educate youth about invasive species. Sarah has been mentored by Information and Education Committee volunteer, Kate Morse, and Science Advisory Committee project manager, Joe Banta. Sarah’s final report on this summer’s aquatic nuisance species monitoring will be completed this fall.

During January and February of 2014, the council’s second pilot intern Zachary Verfaillie, a senior student at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, completed an existing council project developed by the Oil Spill Prevention and Response committee, as his senior thesis. In May, the board accepted Zack’s final report “Analysis of Fishing Vessel Types and Numbers vs. Response Tactics.” His report is a living document which helps the council match the kinds and numbers of fishing vessels contracted by Alyeska’s Ship Escort/Response Vessel System to the oil spill response needs in the region. Zack was mentored in this project by council project managers Roy Robertson and Jeremy Robida.

Internships for 2015

A manual has been developed from the council’s pilot year experience, and we have begun an open recruitment for 2015 interns.

The council is recruiting for a “Multi-Media Intern” (see inset). The council is seeking this intern to accomplish several video projects, such as production of a brief video history of the council, a Valdez Marine Terminal video tour for internal training, and documenting youth involvement projects. Recruitment for this intern is focused on regional college and university programs as well as existing youth program partners.

The Information and Education Committee committed to funding a second year of invasive species monitoring in Cordova by Sarah Hoepfner. Sarah will also recruit and train her eventual replacement.

The benefits of an internship is mutual to both the student and the organization. The council will benefit from its internship program by having already identified project needs achieved while a local youth will gain valuable career skills and an understanding of the council’ s mission. The council looks forward to a fresh perspective and help in building our relationships with the next generation.

Future intern projects can be suggested through the council’s technical committees. If you are interested in more information about upcoming internships, please contact me: or 907.273.6235.

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