The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Notes from the Field: Autumn Brunelle '15

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Rockefeller Center-funded interns reflect on their experiences as part of our "Notes from the Field" series. Click here to read more about the Rockefeller Center's Internships program. To read the entire series, click here.

Student Intern: Autumn Brunelle '15

Internship Organization: Center for Environmental Leadership Training (CELT) – Hanover, NH

How would you describe your employer in one paragraph? What’s the elevator pitch? 
CELT is a nonprofit organization under the Climate Institute, which is based in Washington D.C. CELT is primarily located in Hanover, NH. It's mission is to work with students, staff, and alumni in order to educate and empower those affected by climate change. Much of this work is focused on climate change and indigenous coastal communities. CELT's goal is to create problem solvers and find solutions to environmental issues. An interesting solution that CELT and the Climate Institute is working on, that I didn't know was a possibility until this internship, are educational and informal games that will teach players the impacts and difficulties of climate change. These games will provide players with the chance to create their own solutions for the environmental problems such as energy issues and climate challenges.

What are your specific responsibilities in the organization? 
I am currently in charge of outreach, education, and recruitment for CELT. I create workshops and small group meetings on Dartmouth's campus to educate those interested in climate change surrounding indigenous coastal communities. I also host recruitment events for the CELT internship, and travel to workshops where I present information about CELT and the solutions that CELT is working on for climactic issues.

How did you feel on the first day of your internship? 
I was really excited to start internship! On my first day, I was notified that I would be creating and facilitating a discussion based event one week later. This came as a surprise, but I was very satisfied knowing that I already had a project to work on. After this information, I found that I was extremely self-motivated and contacted everyone that I needed to contact for the discussion that very first day. It was such a relief to find out this important skill about myself.

What is your favorite part of the internship so far? 
My favorite part of the internship was the opportunity that I had to travel to Boulder, CO and attend a discussion with an indigenous climate change working group. Instead of spending much of my time researching what indigenous coastal communities were experiencing, I was able to hear, first hand, from a few community representatives. Sea-level rise is an extremely pressing issue for them. Much of their community is already receding due to sea-level rise and they are now facing potential relocation decisions. I was able to ask them questions during the working group and after the working group was over. Everyone at this meeting had something different to bring to the table, including myself, and we were able to begin working on potential solutions for the specific communities represented. It was a great experience and extremely rewarding. I felt like I was able to make a difference! I was also able to network with people that were very interested in partnering with CELT for future projects.

What challenges have you faced so far? 
I am currently the only active intern this spring. This has proven to be difficult when it comes to organizing outreach events or creating recruitment events. I am in charge of contacting every person involved in the making of such events, as well as running the event itself. Although it would definitely be easier to organize such events with another intern, having to deal with being the only intern helps me to have better time management skills. It also helps me understand the importance of planning ahead, looking at problems that may arise in organizing an event, and it also helps me to create relationships for CELT with other programs around campus.

What do you hope to achieve by the end of your internship?
I really hope that I will be able to leave my internship with a new set of organizational, communication, and motivational skills. I also really hope to see through some of the projects and solutions I assisted with, even after my internship has ended.

What have been some practical lessons you've learned in the day-to-day life of your internship?
I recommend continuing to live in a dorm (preferably a single). A dorm is around the same price as an apartment, it is very quiet, it comes with a meal plan so you don't have to worry about cooking or food if you need to travel, and it is in the center of many meeting places around Hanover. I have also found that I spend most of my time working in my dorm room or the library on campus. Having a single and being close to both locations has been extremely helpful.

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