After a relaxing break, I got started at both of my internships this week. The first was with Lowry Park Zoo’s Contemporary Marketing Team, where I went through an initial orientation and a small walk-through of the zoo (which happens to be my favorite zoo!) My specific CMT coordinator has been in touch about a start date for the week of the 16th, and I can’t wait to get started. I don’t have any specific “marketing” experience other than what I have done as an marine science educator. I’m excited to see what skills translate between education and marketing and hopefully learn a lot more!
Today I observed the Wild Dolphin Tour at the Florida Aquarium, where I am doing– yes, I know– another internship. What’s great about this internship is that I got to design it. I went forward to the volunteer coordinator for FLAQ (who we at PCGS now have a partnership with…and she is fantastic!) and told her what I was interested in. As a sustainable tourism student, my interests lie in the role/responsibility that AZA accredited zoos and aquariums have in teaching the public about sustainability and conservation. For this internship, I’m looking particularly at the effect their Wild Dolphin Cruise messaging has in inspiring Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin conservation knowledge and efforts. I am curious to see if after the cruise, any behaviors (of the guests) are potentially going to change. It’s been challenging coming up with an unbiased survey, and I hope it does the trick! I’m asking things such as “have you heard of dolphin SMART before?”, “how likely are you to recommend this cruise?” and “would you be willing to donate to a bottlenose dolphin conservation effort?” both before and after the cruise to see if there was a spark of inspiration from the cruise narration. I have no idea if this is going to work- but that’s the great thing about this internship! I get to try and see what happens.
I’m looking forward to reporting on more as I continue!
When you know all about the terrible things plastic does to innocent sea creatures and the fact that it basically never goes away, you become conscious about using plastic utensils or reducing energy. However, if you’re disconnected from the world of sustainability and haven’t learned much about plastics or just avoid anything related to environmental doom and gloom on a regular basis, it’s easy to not think about how to save energy and reduce waste.
During my internship, I tried to make daily life in the office a little greener. Our company trademark color is green, so it’s an easy tie in and I even used the slogan “don’t just wear green, be green” in one of the tips. It’s hard to inform people on how to change their ways without making them feel as if you’re scolding them. Sure I can tell someone, “don’t use that plastic knife, it’s bad for the environment,” but if they’ve been working all day and are just trying to cut into the leftover dinner they brought for lunch, they really aren’t in the mood to be lectured.
I made a sign and posted it in the office kitchen as just a friendly reminder of how people can do their part. These tips are also incorporated into the sessions I created for teaching the home office staff about sustainable tourism, just as a reminder on how to make travel and daily life better.
I did have a people ask me about the sign. I always use reusable utensils that I wash and keep at work. It’s positive to see that some of the office staff has started to do the same. A lot of people were happy to tell me that they do carpool to work, something that is especially beneficial for those that live up to an hour away.
Another positive improvement that has come from this “Be Green” campaign is more recycling in the office. Even though we don’t a formalized recycling program in the office, people have started to question why and hopefully one will be implemented soon. There is a paper-recycling bin and many people now take their extra office papers to this bin instead of putting them in their regular trash cans.
Below are the tips from the Be Green campaign:
Fill it up: Skip the bottled water and use a refillable water bottle at work. There’s always cold, filtered water in the kitchen for you to fill it up with!
Bring your lunch: Reduce waste by packing your lunch with reusable utensils and Tupperware containers. Hey, it’ll even save you money!
Travel Green: Find members of the Home Office Team who live near you and carpool to work. This will also help save you money and make your commute more fun!
Go Dark: Turn off the lights when you leave and remember to shut down your computer when leaving for the day.
Recycle paper: Not only can you help out by printing less documents, but also remember to recycle your leftover papers in the bin by the main printer.
Start small: Every little bit helps to make the planet a better place. Don’t just wear green, be green!
I truly believe that sustainable tourism is the way of the future and with the leadership of major travel companies, we can make huge strides in making sustainable tourism mainstream. What I have found throughout my internship is that people want to make travel better and they are genuinely interested in learning about sustainable tourism and responsible travel, however they still don’t fully understand and to be honest, I don’t think the travel companies really understand how to fill in the gaps. Some companies tout their sustainable practices proudly while others hide them pages deep in their website. Everyone uses different terms like community impact, environmental commitment, global citizenship, sustainability, our promise, etc. and for travelers, this information can be confusing and vague.
As a part of my webinar series I created for my internship to present to travel agents, I tried to explain sustainable tourism in the simplest way possible:
Sustainable Tourism: “Tourism that respects both local people and the traveller, cultural heritage and the environment”… while ensuring “future tourists and tourism businesses can enjoy and profit from the samedestinations.” (A combination of UNESCO wording a wording from Sewing Seeds of Change)
Sustainable Tourism is Better Tourism
Better for the traveler
Better for the community visited
Better for the planet
Sustainable Tourism is about being a Responsible Traveler
And most importantly:
ANY type of travel can be Sustainable Travel
What I’ve found when discussing sustainable tourism with people at the office and with travel advisors is that the buzzwords ecotourism and voluntourism always come up. These are great but I always stress these are part of sustainable tourism, but not quite the whole package.
For example, I recently went on a Fathom cruise. Fathom is well known in the travel industry right now for being the first American cruise to sail to Cuba in recent time. The cruise line also sails to the Dominican Republic where passengers take part in Impact + Travel activities on shore and also engage in social innovation workshops on board. The shore excursions include reforestation efforts, teaching english, assisting at a woman’s cooperative, and laying cement floors for families. While many guests on board really bought in to the whole “we’re making a difference” thing, I felt a little disenfranchised. These aren’t feelings I included in my webinar series – because I do think Fathom is a great way for some people to take baby steps towards sustainable tourism – however I just couldn’t help but feeling like Fathom missing the boat on creating an amazing sustainable tourism opportunity. For instance, the cruise line doesn’t have an environmental commitment listed on their website and the only mention of one on board was to please reuse your towels and don’t throw anything overboard. The excursions don’t allow for travelers to make meaningful connections as you only interact with people for minutes at a time in some cases.
If sustainable tourism is going to catch on, companies need to go all in. If you’re going to have travelers volunteering, have them recycling and avoiding plastic straws too. If you’re going on an ecotrek, make sure the money is going back into the community. If you’re leading a cultural immersion tour through Europe, interact with the locals, take your trash with you, and find a fuel efficient bus. While researching sustainable tourism options through the vendors available to travel advisors, it’s difficult to produce a list of lots of companies that have truly sustainable cruises and tours rather than just bits and pieces or an overall company goal to “protect the planet” that has no measurable initiatives attached.
While we wait for companies to go all in, I made sure to stress in my webinars that travelers need to be responsible travelers. This means acting out pillars of sustainable tourism and knowing that the rest of the world might not catch up as quickly, but eventually if we all focus on protecting the environment, supporting communities, and preserving cultures, sustainable tourism will catch on.
The place I’m working is a branch company of Steelcase, which is for sale and after sale services. during the work, we can help ourselves to have a cup of coffee or tea, and even free snacks.
The desks, chairs and sofa are all products of Steelcase their own. So during the work I can also enjoy the expensive furniture that I can not afford. In addition, at the corner of the office, there are a lot of material sample, including wood, textile, and plastics.
The mission boss gives me is to do a market research in Singapore about educational market. It is a challenge for me but interesting. Through the marketing research, I need contact with the potential customers, or even develop some potential customers. It is hard, but I’m trying my best.
The City of Atlanta, or Atlanta, is located in the north-central part of the state of Georgia, which has been one of the top growth areas of the country for the last two decades. Atlanta was established in 1847, and since then it has provided municipal services to its residents, citizens, and visitors. These services include police and fire department, the maintenance of streets, roads and street lighting and other infrastructures. It provides recreational activities and cultural events, public transportation, municipal health services, land use and building regulations. The City is also responsible for the energy and water supply, and sewage collection and disposal operations. The City is also the home of the worlds’ most transited airport, the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport . The City of Atlanta forms part of the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA (MSA), or commonly known as the Metropolitan Atlanta. The Metropolitan Atlanta is number nine in the largest metropolitan areas in the country and has become known as a leading center for logistic activities and business. The area represents one the biggest national and international transportation hub and it is among the top three distributions cities in the U.S., As a result, Atlanta has ranked number three in the country for the number of FORTUNE 500 company headquarters. The City has built a powerful economic base and was lately ranked 10th nationwide as an important technology market. The City of Atlanta also ranks 10th in the nation economy and social well-being with a gross domestic product of approximately $295 billion.
Addressing sustainability in cities like Atlanta is a complex undertaking, demanding respect and a comprehensive understanding of the interconnected nature of social, economic and environmental issues, and collaboration across all established jurisdictions, municipalities, geographies, fields, and expertise. Meeting Atlanta’s sustainability development goals, therefore, entails complementary efforts at different scales and domains, where everyone and every single entity and organization is relevant, and where everyone has a role to play, and everyone has a responsibility to work to accelerate progress towards sustainability across the city.
Power to Change aims to offer a clear path forward for all Atlantans in these commitments, joining national best practices with local context, leveraging the work of countless individuals and organizations from the public and private sector, across many impact areas, and giving all a sense of shared accomplishment and purpose.
As Atlanta’s citywide sustainability energy, Power to Change is the result of the contributions of more than 250 stakeholders across the city, representing their businesses, neighborhoods, their schools, their community organizations and their government agencies. The input and continuing commitments and efforts of these individuals and organizations are what make Power to Change (P2C) alive and powerful, transforming goals, targets and initiatives into a better Atlanta.
Power to Change employs this framework of co-creation processes to build a strong foundation for measurable sustainability actions around 10 impact areas, joining and leading sustainability cities around the globe by using this compelling approach.
My Internship Experience
This fall I had the most incredible and fascinating government experience by working as an intern at the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability in Atlanta, Georgia. It was a great honor for me to be part of a learning process that allows me to get a different perspective and a professional experience from the so-called public sector. During my internship program, I primarily assisted two departments and their corresponding green initiatives in addressing Atlanta’s sustainability efforts. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in two internships during this fall semester with different focus areas but with very interlinked domains.
The Urban Agriculture Department
The goal of urban agriculture in Atlanta is to support and strengthen an equitable and healthy local food economy. To achieve this, the following are some of the actions and activities performed so far by Dr. Mario Cambadella, the Urban Agriculture Director, and his incredible team:
The city has provided technical and conceptual drawings for design and construction of the Capital View Community Garden Landscape Plan as well as supervised community work days.
The department has streamlined the permitting process for urban and community gardens to make it easier for farmers to do what they love to do best, grow, distribute and sell food.
The Department has also secured dozens of grants to strengthen Atlanta’s Urban Agriculture (UA) Network and increase access to local, healthy, and fresh produce. The awards include the GRO1000 grant to give social entrepreneurs an opportunity to grow and sell edible plants and a U.S. Forest Service grant to establish a food forest in Southwest part of Atlanta.
Thanks to the assistance and strategic partnership with Georgia Tech’s Scheller College of Business, the Department of UA has completed the Customized Food Hub Assessment Tool Kit for the City of Atlanta.
Additionally, The Mayor’s Office of Sustainability has established a Community Supported Agriculture drop-off location at the City Hall with the local farming cooperative, Global Growers.
I participated and assisted the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability Urban Agriculture Legal Internship program. This program allowed me to acquire significant learning experience to seek for career options and develop professional skills in a diversity of leadership disciplines such as community engagement, urban agriculture development, and management, sustainability, urban planning, water conservation programs and many other related fields. By participating in programs such as the first Food Forest of the City, I understood and unleashed an interest in learning how urban agriculture can help to achieve the goal of making Atlanta a top-tier city for sustainability by the year 2025. The purpose of this position in the Internship Program was to develop a passionate and skilled leader in me, committed to urban agriculture as one of the critical components of sustainability progress in the city.
Working closing with the Urban Agriculture Director Dr. Mario Cambardella and Elizabeth Beak, his fellow, my primary responsibilities were: UA policy research, grant writing and editing, legal research, and analysis and the placemaking of the first Food Forest in the City. I actively participated in projects such as the opening of a fresh farmers’ market at the Five Points, one of the Marta Train Stations in the City. I also participated in the Food Forest Workshops and the site-visit and celebration of the Food Forest in the Browns Mills Farm.
The Climate Resilience and Renewable Department
Atlanta has been one of the first cities in Georgia to pass a Climate Action Plan and has been a leader in solar energy programs.
The director, Dr. Jairo Garcia has been on the most dedicated sustainability practitioner in achieving new milestones on transition initiatives that act upon turning Atlanta as one of the most sustainable low-carbon Cities. The actions performed by this department are the following:
In 2016, the City began installing solar panels at more than 25 facilities across the city, half of wich are located in the low-income neighborhoods and minority communities.
The City of Atlanta was one of the major cities in the Southeast to participate in the COP21 Climate talks held in Paris. Also, the City was recognized by the Atlanta Regional Commission for the Climate Action Plan developed for the city.
Atlanta has been recently honored as one of the Rockefeller Foundation’s “100 Resilient Cities” in strengthening its ability to face the impacts of climate change such as flooding and heat islands.
Finally, the City of Atlanta has been recognized by the Center for Disease Control as a top ten worldwide Greenhouse Gas emissions reporter.
My internship experience in this department was to work in close collaboration with doctor Jairo in the Climate & Renewables policy research, GH Gases Inventories, updating, writing and editing the 2016 GRI-G4 Sustainability Report, and contributing to the update of the Atlanta Climate Action Plan. This role offered me a broad range of experience on Climate & Renewables Master Plans, GHG Emissions Inventories, GRI Sustainability Reporting, and Solar Atlanta. This position also gave me the opportunity to explore and develop a passionate and skilled leadership in public engagement, policy research, conceptual master plan designs, and working with great partners across the city.
This week at the farm we had some promising growth happen over the last couple days. Two of our plants have started to produce fruit for the short Fall season in Florida. The two plants that are bearing fruit are the American Plum tree and the Yellow Passion Fruit vine. Over the last six weeks I have been putting in extra effort and care into preparing the passion fruit for the small growing opportunity in early November. I have been posting the progress of these plants in my previous blogs and on our social media pages. However, what we did not expect was for the American Plums to produce some fruit during the Fall as well. This occurrence is out of season and not supposed to happen until Spring here in Florida. This particular plum tree has around 5 plums dangling from its branches currently, but the same tree a couple feet away has nothing. I have been tending to these trees all Fall in hopes that they would grow enough to produce plums during their grow season in spring. This is the first time that these trees have produced any fruit since they were planted years ago. Below are some of the pictures I took of the fruit currently on our farm.
During my time here on the farm I have learned several skills involving the construction of various urban farming infrastructure. These include a chicken coops, vertical strawberry gardens, and drip irrigation systems. When I start my own urban farm these skills will be very useful in beginning with a strong foundation. As for the social media aspect of my internship, I’d say it has been going well. As of this week we have increased our page likes to 565 people and reaching 1370 people via comments, likes, and shares. During the harvest season this increase in potential customers should really help to turn a profit next year. We’ve expanded the number of products available, while branching out into new markets in order to meet the demands of our new customers. We have added avocados, bananas, basil, carrots, sweet potato, mango, and strawberries. Plans for the future continue to be focused on farm fresh eggs and possibly cascade hops.
I finished my internship up just a few days ago and have learned so much over the past couple months. It brought me happiness knowing that the work I did not only promotes a sustainable future, but also helped to produce nourishment for people. Each day on the farm was quite enjoyable. Even after days of sweating and pulling weeds and handling feces I was still able to have a smile on my face. I guess this means I’m doing what I was meant to do. It feels good and I hope everyone has an opportunity to do something that makes them happy. At the end of this month my 50 page paper is due. However, I am not concerned as I feel as if I could write a 100 page paper. The presentation is going to have a lot of pictures and some graphs to help present my data in a effective method. Excited to get my degree, but sad to be finally done with school. Its time to go out and change the world. I can’t think of a better way to spend my time. Thank you everyone for all your support and I plan to make the Patel College very happy.
We are now wrapping up the portion of the project that I’m working on in village. The overall sustainable tourism project will continue as there are many other components that the Social Investment Fund need to complete. To complete my last objectives for this project, it was my responsibility to get the village trainees some practical real world experience to equip them with some basic skills to conduct various tours for visitors to Belize. Last week we completed setting up an initial nature trail tour around the village. This proved to be very challenging, especially because of weather conditions, but was ultimately successful.
I needed to identify locations for the trainees to visit to gain some practical experience about guiding in different areas from other tour guides as well. After examining tourism statistics for Belize, major terrestrial attractions that tourist visit includes the ancient Maya sites, caves (especially cave tubing), and the Belize Zoo. We decided to visit The Belize Zoo, Nohoch Che’en Cave (where the cave tubing occurs) and the ancient Maya city of Xunantunich.
Keel Billed Toucan
Our first field experience was at the Belize Zoo. This is a wonderful zoo, recognized worldwide as a model for other zoos. Rehabilitation and conservation are very important to the Belize zoo. Majority of the animals are rescued, injured or orphaned animals which are taken to the zoo by residents or the forestry department. The enclosures are large and imitate the animals’ natural habitats as much as possible. You won’t see slabs of concrete with animals on display here. In reality, you may not see many of the animals without the assistance of a local guide or zoo staff because they blend in naturally in the environment they are in. The village trainees from Gracie Rock each had the opportunity to guide on a section of the tour at the zoo.
The Belize Zoo
Justin Hall taking over
I explained and demonstrated the internationally acceptable methods for guiding tourists in this type of environment. They were very excited and receptive and did a wonderful job at the Belize Zoo.
The tour at the cave tubing site was a new experience for most of them. I had the assistance of another guide, since this was a wet cave tour and had a higher level of challenge and risk involved. The trainees had a blast. They learned about the natural flora and fauna of the environment and about cave geology.
Crossing the river
Inside the cave
The last trip we did was to the ancient Maya city of Xunantunich. This is all the way in the west of the country. Again, this was a first for majority of the trainees. We had to drive through several communities and cross the Mopan river on a hand-cranked ferry before getting to the site.
Crossing the ferry
The Maya site of Xunantunich
There was a troop of howler monkeys chilling in the trees. It was as if they were there to greet us when we arrived. The trainees got to tour the entire site and climb the tallest structure, El Castillo. From the summit, we could see clear into Guatemala and got a panoramic view of the country side.
Howler monkey chilling
The trainees from the village had a wonderful experience over the last week of this section of the project. Almost every person has met the requirements and passed the national assessments as administered by the Belize Tourism Board. Now, they need to go through the license application process and very shortly they will be licensed guides, conducting eco-tours in and around their community. The training they received allows them to also guide anywhere throughout the length and breadth of Belize. This part of the overall sustainable tourism project will allow these villagers to generate income for their families and, with further support, they can setup their own tour operations and run their own business.
We are getting to the part of the project which requires more field work. The villagers here have shown how dedicated they are to this training that they are receiving. We need to start early in the day. I recently found out that some of the villagers participating in this project are traveling some far distances and even crossing the river en route to the training venue. I had the opportunity to accompany some of them to the road leading to their houses. I was amazed to know that several of them cross the river, paddling a canoe, twice daily everyday. This is difficult enough seeing as how the river has been consistently flooded over the past few weeks, but one of them does this daily and she cannot swim. Her name is Sirley. I saw her stand in the canoe and paddle her way across the flooded river. The pictures below were taken while she made her way across the river.
Another one of the trainees has a new born baby boy. Her name is Amalia and most days she has her son with her. He is a welcomed addition to the group. Amalia doesn’t allow the fact that she has a young baby to keep for from benefiting from this project. She is shown below. I even spend some time with the baby boy during the sessions to allow her time to complete her work.
This commitment to what they are doing only solidifies the importance of the work that I am doing down here.
Last week we had to set up a nature trail around the village. All of the participants in the project came out. They came from far, across rivers, catching the bus, biking and even walking. They endured through swarms of mosquitoes and doctor flies. It was muddy and raining. In the end we accomplished what we set out to do. It was a great feeling knowing that we were getting closer to the end goal. The next activities will involve more field work. Below are some pictures from the nature trail. We saw what I believe is a bare-throated tiger heron nesting in a nearby tree.
This week on the farm my focus was on accessing any biological issues involving our plants and determining the best course of action to solve that problem. As I’ve previously mentioned, when working with an organic materials such as fertilizers and pesticides it is common to apply them more often than traditional chemicals. There have been lots of butterflies fluttering through the farm as of late and with an increase in butterflies we also see an increase in caterpillars. However, on our farm these pests only seem to want one thing and that’s our passion fruit leaves. There are some vines that are seeing tremendous growth, while there are some other vines who just can’t seem to get started. To solve this issue I have been spraying the vines with a combination of Thuricide, Therm X, and water from our well to eliminate the caterpillars on the lower sections of our passion fruit vines. This organic brew of naturally occurring pesticides seems to last just under a week and needs to be applied promptly after. As you can see below, some of our passion fruit vines are really flourishing. Some vines even growing to heights that we can’t reach with our sprayers anymore. I hope that we don’t see another caterpillar infestation near the top. So far this vine and many others with this height have not shown signs of pests near the top. The vine in the picture is well over 20 feet tall and is one of many fruit vines to reach this height on the farm.
Construction is nearly complete on our vertical strawberry garden system. Farmer Bob decided to stain the wood plank support structure to make it more visually appealing and “rustic” looking. Strawberries really grow well in Florida and are a popular fruit among many of our customers. We gathered this information from comments on our social media pages and plan on giving our customers what they want. At the start of next year we should have a surplus of berries (blueberries and strawberries) and passion fruit available. Strawberries grow from January to November depending on the type and blueberries grow from May to July in Florida depending on the type of plant. Recently, we also planted some mango trees, which have been making some excellent progress and currently without any signs of pests or fungus. Our carrots have also really began to take root as many sprouts have begun to show above the soil. We used recycled materials and our homemade compost to make this possible. Below you will see our almost complete vertical gardens and with the left over materials from that we were able to build an herb garden as well with some quick growth from our carrots.
Working on the farm has taught me a lot of skills that I will need in the future for personal and professional endeavors. Adding this to my resume has caused employers to ask questions about what I do there and why. Of course I happily tell them all the details of what goes on at the farm and why it is important not only locally, but globally as well. Even though I get up at 7:45 AM each morning to make it to the farm on I enjoy every thing I do there. From my first day shoveling chicken feces to the days I spend picking weeds for hours. It feels good knowing that my efforts are contributing to the greater good and helping a local farmer to build his farm. Additionally, upon completion of this internship I will earn my degree and be that much closer to achieving my goal. The Patel School has taught me so much and provided me with an immense amount of opportunities to grow. I will never forget the time I spent here on the farm, along with the joy it brought me helping other in my community. The featured image above is a photo I took arriving at the farm this week. The beauty of the sunrise paired with the greenery of the farm really made me sit back and just enjoy the blessings I have.
The social media campaign continues to gain support from our local community and elsewhere. This week we have added 6 new people to the page bringing our total up to 526. As of today, our current reach for the week has been 425 people. I am extremely excited to see what demand will take place when harvest season comes around. I fear we may have more customers than we can provide for. However, one thing is for sure and that is that this year looks much more promising than last year. The increase in customer communication paired with the addition of several other plant varieties ensures that we will be pulling in a lot more revenue. We have also started an Instagram page that has also been making some decent progress. Since July we have 59 followers and have over 54 posts on our page showcasing what we do on a daily basis. Below is a graph indicating the page growth since I started working on the social media.