This summer I worked as the outreach intern for the Mangrove Action Project (MAP) in Seattle Washington. One of the most asked questions I have received while working at the MAP this summer, is why the MAP chose to locate in Seattle, when the nearest mangroves are thousands of miles away. In addition to the Seattle office, there are branches in both Port Angeles and Thailand. Yet that doesn’t change the fact that only one of the offices is located within driving distance of mangroves. There are quite a few reasons for the location: Seattle is on the leading edge of environmentalism and philanthropy, making it an ideal location for a nonprofit. In addition, as Sara the co-director of the MAP likes to say, “It turns out you are part of a mangrove community and you didn’t even know it”. This is because mangroves are arguably one of the most important forest types in the world. They house endangered species such as the Bengal Tiger, provide shelter for people against the elements, and prevent erosion and flooding. One of the most amazing characteristics of mangroves is their ability to sequester carbon. Mangroves can take in up to 5 times more carbon per hectare than any other forest type, including rainforests. Mangroves make up less than 1% of forests across the globe, but take in up to 10% of sequestered carbon. The lack of knowledge regarding mangroves is quite astonishing given their amazing environmental benefits. Due to this fundamental disparity, one of the main things I worked on this summer was expanding people’s awareness through in person interactions and social media outreach.
Every year the MAP has two main events, and luckily for me they both occur in the summer months! The first was a booth at the Fremont Fair, working to engage people and start a conversation about what mangroves are, and how to help prevent their deforestation. While at the booth, I approached people walking by handing out flyers regarding mangrove deforestation, and attempted to explain what an individual can do to stop contributing to deforestation. I encountered a range of people, from participants in the naked cycling parade (a traditional part of the Fremont fair), to environmental activists. We passed out hundreds of pamphlets on mangrove deforestation and shrimp farming (the leading cause of mangrove deforestation), and seemed to attract the interest of many people walking by. Overall, the first outreach approach was a success.
The second event, Mangrove Action Day, focuses both on education and fundraising. This year the event raised its goal of 5000 dollars! My primary focus leading up to the event was contacting people over social media and gathering mangrove photos for our annual mangrove photo contest. There were over 200 submissions of breathtaking photos, they can all be viewed on the Mangrove Action Project website! http://mangroveactionproject.org/action-day-submissions/
Working for the Mangrove Action Project this summer has been an amazing experience. I have learned so much about both the world of working at a small nonprofit, and about the importance of saving mangrove forests.
Experiences like Kate’s are made possible by the Whitman Internship Grant, which provides funding for students to participate in unpaid internships at both for-profit and non-profit organizations. To learn how you could secure a Whitman Internship Grant or host a Whitman intern at your organization, click here or contact Assistant Director for Internship Programs Victoria Wolff.