Sunday, May 1, 2011

Coastal Management Fellowship matching workshop

It was a busy and occasionally stressful week, but a productive and ultimately successful one. Finalists from across the country came to Charleston, SC to participate in the 2011 NOAA Coastal Management Fellowship matching workshop. In this process, 6 of the 11 finalists were placed with 6 different state coastal management agencies through a partnership between the state and the NOAA Coastal Services Center. Our backgrounds were as varied as the projects themselves, which ranged from climate change policy and adaptation to development of a coastal erosion index.

Zach and his new mentor from NY.

During the first day of the workshop, representatives from each state office presented their project and talked a bit about the pros of living in their particular city. States from colder climes endured some good-natured jabs from South Carolina regarding its superior weather. As if to underscore that point, it was beautiful that week in Charleston. It's a charming town.

During the second day, the tables turned and the finalists gave presentations on their backgrounds. This was the most nerve-wracking part of the process for me. Some of us tailored our presentations to certain projects we knew we were interested in, while others gave a more general overview. I spoke to my background in GIS and coastal mapping, as I thought I'd be a good fit with the two marine spatial planning projects. Hearing about the accomplishments and skills of the other candidates was a humbling experience, and all of us felt honored to be among the group of finalists.

During the third and fourth days we interviewed with our potential hosts to determine if the fit was mutual. Most nights saw the finalists going out to dinner and/or bars as group. Despite the fact that we were "competing", the group bonded quickly and developed a real sense of camaraderie in the face of the uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the week. The Coastal Services Center, which acted as a sort of intermediary between the state hosts and finalists, also helped allay our nerves and ensure a smooth process. In the end, I was matched with the state of New York's Division of Coastal Resources. I'll be helping with their offshore spatial planning efforts, and my two-year fellowship will being sometime in August. I think it will be a great fit with a great group of people. Stay tuned for details on that front.  - Zach, CMF 2011

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