By Madeleine Foote
“It tastes like a little bite of the ocean,” said Linda Hunter as she tried to convince me to try an oyster for the first time. The logic was that if I was going to work so hard in their name, I should at least know what oysters taste like. So on a sunny day outside The Watershed Project’s headquarters on the Richmond Field Station, surrounded by coworkers I had come to respect and admire –and when I wasn’t able to stall any longer– I took a deep breath and slurped down my first oyster. It was sustainably harvested from Pickleweed Point Oyster Co. just a few hours before. My first bivalve was delicious, and marks one of my fondest memories of my time at The Watershed Project.
I joined The Watershed Project in July of 2009 as part of their burgeoning internship program, hoping to confirm my recent decision to pursue a career in the environmental field. As the development intern, my main task was to organize events to raise money while also increasing awareness of The Watershed Project and its mission– a lofty goal, indeed. To achieve my internship goals, I organized the first annual Bubbles & Bivalves event, a venue for attendees to learn about our unique San Francisco Bay watershed while enjoying the best of the Bay Area’s sustainable restaurants and wineries. From this planning process, I learned the basics of budgeting, refined my organizational skills, and became skilled at the art of persuasion, aka “professional begging.”
With the third Bubbles & Bivalves event coming up this May 17th, I feel honored that I was able to contribute to something that is a long-lasting benefit for The Watershed Project, its Living Shoreline Program, and for the vitally important native oysters.
My internship cemented my desire to contribute to the betterment of our environment. I left The Watershed Project to pursue my Master of Environmental Management degree at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University. I plan to graduate this coming May. Although my focus has shifted towards a desire to work on domestic climate change policy, the skills and passion for environmental issues that I gained from my time at The Watershed Project have proved useful in my life as a graduate student. I’ve had many wonderful opportunities at Duke, including my role as the Nicholas School Student Council Co-Director, (in which my organizational skills and experience with event planning have come in very handy). Last summer I worked as a policy and lobbying intern in Washington, DC, and plan to return to the Capitol to work on environmental policy through advocacy and lobbying.
I believe my role in the future is to push for a national strategy to tackle climate change, which threatens the San Francisco Bay that I, The Watershed Project, and all those in the Bay Area love so dearly. I am truly grateful to The Watershed Project for giving me the chance to get my feet wet in the environmental realm, and for convincing me of the joys of an oyster– a little bite of the Bay.