Monday, December 17, 2012

Becoming a Knauss Fellow at Placement Week

Feel the force.

That was one of the key pieces of advice given to the incoming group of Knauss Marine Policy fellows during placement week earlier this month. For myself and the other executive branch fellows, the week was spent figuring out where we might fit among the dozens of positions that were being offered. It's not easy, given the range of great opportunities in host offices in a variety of federal agencies, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Navy.

At the end of the week, all of the fellows had been placed in host offices; one of the great aspects of the Knauss fellowship program is there are more positions than fellows, so you are really in demand. I was thrilled to accept a position in the Office of Marine Conservation in the U.S. Department of State. It'll be an incredibly exciting opportunity to see how the office helps coordinate and sort out positions among its domestic stakeholders -- including various NOAA offices, industry groups and environmental NGOs -- and then engages in bilateral and multilateral negotiations with foreign counterparts on a range of issues involving living marine resources.

Heading into placement week, I was a little worried that my nontraditional background as a former newspaper reporter might create a disadvantage compared to fellows who have extensive natural science experiences. But the host offices really appreciated the interdisciplinary focus of the program at the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment, including the chance to participate in research and a team-based master's project.

My time at Michigan made me comfortable in talking with a wide variety of hosts and tailoring my experience to their offices. After we spent Sunday night at an orientation dinner and Monday receiving presentations on the fellowship positions, we signed up to interview for the positions on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. We were encouraged to interview for at least a dozen positions. I signed up for 16 and spent those days traveling among NOAA offices as well as to hosts in the Department of State, Department of the Interior, Department of Energy and U.S. Navy.

The interviews were an amazing chance to talk with people who are doing incredible work and are excited and passionate to talk with you about what they are doing. Although the interviews could be exhausting by the end of the day, they provided a unique window into the ocean policy community in the DC area. It was also exciting to find many former Knauss fellows working in the host offices. In the evening, fellows had an opportunity to talk further with host offices in an informal, happy hour setting.

On Friday morning, we faced some tough decisions when the host offices' rankings of the fellows for each position were unveiled. But the Sea Grant staff who led the placement week process had created a really positive, friendly and supportive environment. I'm looking forward to getting to know my fellow fellows over the next year.

Knauss Marine Policy Fellow
(2/2013 – 2/2014)

Friday, December 14, 2012

A whirl wind tour....

As the blog posts from many of the past Fellows can attest, time flies when you're at the Great Lakes Commission. I am halfway through my fellowship, and in many ways it feels as though I've barely begun. But, looking back at the  places I've gone, people I've met, and all of my accomplishments I realized that the Fellowship has been a wonderful opportunity that has taught me more so much, and really given me the opportunity to expand my knowledge of policy and communication. In this post I would like to share a handful of my most memorable experiences and a few of my favorite projects.

The Michigan Sea Grant Staff Retreat--Muskegon, MI

    The Michigan Sea Grant office was kind enough to invite me on their annual staff retreat. I not only got a good look at many of their on-going projects, but I also was invited to go fishing on Lake Michigan! This was an exciting new experience--can you believe that I had never been salmon fishing--that highlighted some of Bill Taylor’s recent work on the Catch and Cook program. The whole trip was a great way to learn about many of the programs going on in Michigan, and I feel that the connections I forged while at the meeting will serve me well as a Fellow and in the next stages of my career. Plus, look at all of those fish! 

Great Lakes Week--Cleveland, OH

In September I went down to Cleveland with many of the Commission staff to Great Lakes Week. Great Lakes Week is a recent effort to group the annual meetings of many Great Lakes organizations together to facilitate communication and networking. While mildly exhausting, I met many of our commissioners and people who are working hard to protect our valuable resources. 

The Great Lakes Wind Collaborative 

About half of my time goes to providing staff support to the Great Lakes Wind Collaborative--a multi-sector coalition of wind energy stakeholders working to facilitate the sustainable development of wind power in the bi-national Great Lakes region. Part of that work included attending their annual meeting in September. This meeting was a great opportunity to network and learn about sustainable alternative energy development in the Great Lakes. I have also written a blog post for the GLWC, check it out! And, one of my biggest projects over the last few months was the planning and implementation of a workshop aimed at investigating the potential impacts of offshore wind on the Great Lakes fishery and other aquatic resources. As part of this we worked to bring several speakers from Europe to Ann Arbor to provide a information and lessons learned from their operational wind farms. This was a great learning experience! As the Fellow I have had a lot of experience with planning meetings, logistics, and facilitating sessions. 

The Great Lakes Phragmites Collaborative

     One of my favorite projects is the Great Lakes Phragmites Collaborative (GLPC)-- a regional partnership established to improve communication and collaboration and lead to more coordinated, efficient and strategic approaches to Phragmites management, restoration and research across the Great Lakes basin.  I've been really involved in launching this project and it has been a great way to use my knowledge of wetland plant ecology and invasive species in combination with the communication skills I've been learning at the Commission. Check out our webpage, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter

Amanda Sweetman
Great Lakes Commission Fellow
(6/2012 – 6/2013)

Friday, December 7, 2012

NOAA Coastal Management Fellow Placement

Wondering where fellows go on to work after their fellowship?
Want to know if Michigan Sea Grant has nominated a candidate that has gone on to be a fellow?
Wondering which states have hosted fellows in the past?

Check out this helpful infographic put together by NOAA to give a little insight on where fellows have been placed.

An Interview with two Knauss Fellows, Kyle and Eric.

Check out what two fellows hailing from Michigan State University have learned from their experiences in Washington D.C. through their Knauss Fellowship.

If you are unsure which branch of government you are interested in working in, read Kyle Molton's answers to gain insight on the legislative branch and Eric MacMillon's point of view from the executive branch.

The interview is on page 11 of this issue of Spotlight (a MSU graduate student outreach magazine).

                                   Kyle Molton
Eric MacMillon