Jane Urheim, 2017, Woodrow Wilson School

This summer, I worked for the Environmental Defense Fund on the Central Valley Habitat Exchange (Exchange), an initiative that is developing incentives for farmers and ranchers to conserve the habitat of at-risk species in the Central Valley of California. During the course of my internship, I did a mix of research and writing of outreach materials. I looked into how counties in the Central Valley meet mitigation requirements for threatened and endangered species. Later in the internship, I wrote several communications to be distributed to farmers and ranchers, wildlife agencies, and local government officials, most notably a detailed overview of the Exchange and the tools and services it provides. I also helped to write part of a survey about habitat conservation that will be sent out to farmers in the California Farm Bureau. This internship taught me how to think critically and problem-solve, taking into consideration the complicated intersection of wildlife and habitat issues, the economics of agriculture, and state, federal, and county law. Although I’m not sure if I will end up pursuing a career in environmental policy, learning how to approach a complex issue and how to think about it critically is an invaluable skill that I will take with me wherever I end up.