# Gregory Desautels: Reflection on my Extension Internship

Gregory Desautels interned with Dr. Mike Dietz of UConn Extension in the summer of 2019, working with Dr. Dietz on projects for UConn CLEAR. Gregory has continued working with Dr. Dietz on projects funded by Connecticut Sea Grant during the fall 2019 semester. In the article below, Gregory reflected on his summer internship.

Through my summer as an Extension intern at the UConn Center for Land Use Education and Research (CLEAR), I learned skills and had experiences, which may shape my future.  I learned technical skills, working in GIS programs such as Arc Pro and AGOL, as well as Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets. I improved my organizational skills, learning how to manage multiple iterations and edits of data files so they could be referenced in the future.  I learned how to work independently and improved my problem solving while working on projects that were challenging, and sometimes over my head. Finally, I was able to practice communicating with coworkers and supervisors.

The technical skills that I developed this summer were one of the most valuable parts of this experience. Through projects such as the Shellfishing Atlas and Campus LID Map, I had to use many of the skills developed in my previous GIS classes. Furthermore, these projects required me to work outside the confines of my previous experiences and to learn new skills, often by reading tutorials and self-teaching. In programs such as Excel, which I had previously considered myself adept, I found that there was still a lot to learn, and hands on experience was the best way to do so. I consider these experiences valuable not only for the skills learned, but also in learning how to teach myself. In my career, I expect there will be times when I do not know how to solve a problem and I will need to use all the resources available to learn how to solve it.

Organizational skills, specifically in reference to managing files for GIS were one of the most practical skills that I developed. Through my own processes of trial and error, as well as through new iterations becoming available, I was often left with multiple seemingly identical files with small but vital differences. My previous nomenclature wasn’t sufficient to keep track of all these files, however several of my coworkers taught me how to build and manage file databases. This has allowed for a cleaner workflow and the ability to backtrack and reference previous steps, both important skills when working in GIS.

This internship was also a valuable experience in communication. In communicating with coworkers, supervisors

and faculty members, I learned to adapt my communications to them. As someone who defaults to excessive formality, I often had to tone back and learn how to match someone else’s level. I found that the formal “Thank You, double space, sincerely, double space, signature” format lauded by schools is not always practical or necessary and that being overly formal can actually hinder clear communication.

In terms of my career goals, I don’t feel that this summer has wildly altered my trajectory, however I do feel that I have a better understanding of what to expect. Seeing the “behind the scenes” work related to securing grants and funding, as well as how this office fits into the larger body of UConn has been eye-opening. This internship was valuable in more ways that I can say, and I am confident that as I progress through my career, I will find many more instances where this experience has helped me.

Article by Gregory Desautels, CLEAR Intern Reflection

# Two Sea Grant Programs Support Students’ Unique Summer Job

For many college students, the summer after freshman year means heading home for jobs waiting tables, working at youth recreation programs or scooping ice cream at the beach snack bar.

But after completing his first year at the University of Delaware, Sam Koeck came home to Connecticut to the kind of paid internship usually afforded only to students further along in college, when they’ve already taken several upper-level courses in their major.  A resident of Fairfield, Koeck is getting the chance to develop skills and real-world experience uniquely relevant to his double major in materials engineering and marine science at nearby Stratford Point, a Long Island Sound site serving as a laboratory for shoreline restoration. At the same time, he is enabling two Sea Grant programs –Delaware and Connecticut – to partner on a project that could benefit both states.

“Sam is just starting his academic career, so I hope this gives him the exposure he needs to help him see a path forward,” said Chris Hauser, associate director of Delaware Sea Grant. “We’re really excited about the skills that Sam will gain and how he can use them.”

Nancy Balcom, associate director of Connecticut Sea Grant, said the chance to work with another Sea Grant to jointly support Koeck – each program is providing half of his $5,000 summer salary – was a great opportunity. Read more… Article and photo by Judy Benson # Internship Available – Fall 2019 ## Community & Economic Development Paid Internship Summer – Fall 2019 – Connecticut Economic Development Association Best Practices Program The Connecticut Economic Development Association (CEDAS) is seeking an intern to assist with all aspects of implementation of a new community Best Practices program pilot. The intern will be involved program’s implementation and will work closely with economic development professionals through the Connecticut Economic Development Association, the state’s only organization for economic development professionals, including opportunities to attend regular professional board meetings and CEDAS events. The intern will specifically be involved with implementation of an innovative economic development pilot program called “Connecticut Best Practices in Land Use and Economic Development.” This program was developed to set a standard for best practices in economic development and land use among communities in Connecticut, recognize communities that document the use of established best practices, and drive communities to pursue excellence in land use and economic development practices. Partners on the program include the Connecticut Economic Development Association with the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association and University of Connecticut Programs in Community & Economic Development. More information at https://www.cedas.org/Resources/CT-Best-Practices-In-Land-Use-and-Economic-Development/ Tasks will include but are not limited to researching and documenting similar programs and best practices, creating written and online educational materials, assisting with development and assessment of program evaluation, communicating with applying communities, assisting with application management, and providing regular reporting to the CEDAS board of directors. Students applying for this internship must have a demonstrated interest in state and municipal community and economic development programs and policy. Students with backgrounds in geography, economics, business, geography, public policy, and urban studies are strongly encouraged to apply but other areas of study will be considered. The successful candidate will demonstrate excellent verbal and written communication skills and an ability to manage her/himself professionally in a community setting. This will be a remote internship (no office space will be provided) so the candidate must also demonstrate an ability to self manage her/his work plan, adapt to changing circumstances and opportunities as the program evolves, and solve problems, A computer or laptop and internet access as well as a vehicle for occasional travel are required to complete this internship. The intern will be overseen by Laura Brown, Community and Economic Development Educator with UConn Extension with additional guidance from the Best Practices steering committee and the CEDAS board. This will be a part-time (approximately 10 hours per week) remote internship for a maximum of 120 hours to start as soon as possible for Summer into Fall 2019. Hourly pay is$25.

Apply by submitting a cover letter explaining your course of study and why you are interested in the internship, writing sample, resume, transcript, and three references to Laura Brown, laura.brown@uconn.edu by May 24, 2019.  Please reference the CEDAS INTERNSHIP/  Applicants will be considered on a rolling basis. Open until filled.

# My 2017 Climate Corps Summer Internship

By Nikki Pirtel

The shoreline community of Westbrook, Connecticut, situated halfway between New Haven and New London, is home to approximately 7,000 residents while supporting seasonal tourists with numerous beaches and shopping stores in the town’s outlet. It is also the municipality I was assigned to research and create a vulnerability assessment for during my time at the UConn Extension Office Internship in partnership with the Climate Adaption Academy and Climate Corps. Through the internship I achieved the Extension Office’s mission of using scientific research to engage with members of the public and municipalities, breaking down complex problems and developing easy to understand solutions that may help inform policy in the future.

Using the town’s Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan and various mapping services, I compiled a list of assets that I determined to have some level of vulnerability to climate hazards (such as flooding, sea level rise, damage from high precipitation events) primarily based on their geographical location to bodies of water. Although this information was similar to that described in the town’s plan, my created final product takes the basic material and provides recommended actions to reduce vulnerability, thus going one step further. With my help and the aid of future interns, the municipality can prepare for the impacts already being seen from climate change while simultaneously saving money. Figuring out the best way to protect assets and people within communities, whether proposing solutions on a town wide or specific infrastructure basis (an approach this internship takes with the Climate Corps Information Sheet), is an important discussion to have and comparison to make. Creating the vulnerability assessment was a rewarding process and the completed 38-page document (including references and figures) is something that I am proud to show to anyone willing to learn about the risk-based evaluations. I hope that the work done in this internship will grow into a much more substantial program and help Connecticut become a leader in climate adaptation.

Additional internship responsibilities included website updating and offering recommendations for a role-playing exercise that will occur in a new Climate Corps related class during the upcoming semester. These activities helped me reflect on past, similar experiences so that I could make any changes to proposed material to avoid previous problems I had encountered. Finding links to put on the Adapt CT website (through UConn’s Center for Land Use Education and Research) helped bring out my creative side and allowed me to delve into topics that really interest me.

Although attending meetings (except with the Westbrook town planner) and conducting a field site visit were not a part of my official obligations, seeing people and infrastructure in person really tied everything in the internship together. By seeing the people, along with their properties and other assets, that will be most negatively impacted by climate change in the future, my work felt much more important knowing what I did this summer may have a positive influence in time. Talking to members of shoreline communities from various backgrounds also made me realize that the climate will leave people of all classes vulnerable to events such as sea level rise, storm surge, flooding and tropical storms/hurricanes. Overall, this was more than just a summer job, rather a learning experience teaching me the ins and outs of local government, how input from the public affects an administration’s policies and the importance of maintaining natural landscapes within man-made ones.