12 summer interns learn about coral reefs at DCRM

Posted on Aug 22 2019


Twelve students finished their internships at the Division of Coastal Resources Management office yesterday with presentations on the projects they worked on during their participation in the Coral Real Initiative Summer Internship Program.

This year, the students were paired with mentors and worked 10 weeks on environmental projects related to beach quality laboratory assessment, the sea turtle program, enforcement, fish and wildlife, user capacity assessment, and shoreline monitoring, among others—all with the aim of exposing the interns to the different aspects of resource management.

Robbie Greene, a coral conservation specialist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, believes the summer internship program will just keep expanding.

“As long as this remains the most highly rated NOAA capacity building project in the [Pacific] region, it’s going to continue to be funded every year,” Greene said.

NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program has been funding the summer internship program since 2002. The program pairs graduating seniors from high school and incoming college students with different natural resource management agencies on Saipan. The program has been so successful that NOAA has approved a second summer internship program that runs parallel to the coral internship.

Green said the ultimate purpose of the program is to build capacity. “So many of these interns end up coming back, and working in the agencies here, and this is probably our best capacity building program,” he said.

Janice Anne Castro, Coastal Resource Management director, is herself a product of the internship program.

“All the work that the interns did really help all of our agencies and organizations. We really hope that this experience is rewarding for the interns, and that you consider coming back after studies and work for us,” Castro said, adding that a lot of the mentors were actually interns who now work at CRM as full-time employees, mentoring the next generation of environmental stewards.

One of the interns, 2019 Miss Marianas Shannon T. Sasamoto, worked on a coastal zone communications project, where she developed a PaoPao Beach signage about trash, an international coastal cleanup video, and even created sand-sifters to help study microplastics.

“My plan is to continue to volunteer and use social media to raise environmental awareness and help people in our community understand that there is so much cultural and historical significance beneath our feet, which hopefully would inspire them to respect our land,” Sasamoto said.

The Coral Real Initiative Internship Program is organized by the Division of Coastal Resources Management under the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality, with the CNMI Division of Fish and Wildlife, Micronesia Islands Nature Alliance, and NOAA.

Iva Maurin | Correspondent
Iva Maurin is a communications specialist with environment and community outreach experience in the Philippines and in California. She has a background in graphic arts and is the Saipan Tribune’s community and environment reporter. Contact her at iva_maurin@saipantribune.com

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