Monday, December 1, 2014

Nearing the end of my Knauss Fellowship

Placement week for the 2015 fellowship class was two weeks ago, a sure sign that the end of my fellowship year is near. It was interesting to see the new fellowship class from the other side of the fence, especially since my office was recruiting a "new" me and I sat in on the interviews. Time sure flies....

What's new?
A lot has happened since my last post. Here's a list of some of my activities from the last 10 months, both professional and fun:
  • Helped to organize the 2014 Ballast Water Collaborative meeting in Silver Spring, MD
  • Volunteered at the NOAA Heritage Days 
  • Organized a Knuass Fellow river cleanup and canoe trip on the Potomac River
Cleaning up the Potomac River with the 2014 Knauss Fellows

  • Attended a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) training for invasive species at the USFWS National Conservation Training Center
  • Attended the NSF Long Tern Ecological Research mini-symposium
  • Attended "Insights into the making of state and federal climate policy" symposium at Georgetown Law
  • Attended the 2014 Public Policy Forum-The Urban Ocean, hosted by the Consortium for Ocean Leadership
  • Attended the Capital Hill Ocean Week
  • Attended ~6 hearings and briefings on the Hill related to invasive species
  • Volunteered with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center's Marine Invasions Lab

White catfish from the Chesapeake Bay
  • Took Project Design and Evaluation training hosted by the NOAA Digital Coast
  • Gained a certificate in federal appropriations law
  • Attended the Environmental Law Institute's "Summer School" program
  • Reviewed GLRI grants
  • Gave a NOAA Science Seminar presentation on my graduate research
  • Designed invasive species fact sheets
  • Published 4 invasive species articles on the NOAA Fisheries homepage: 
  • Spent 17 days at sea aboard the NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow performing the Gulf of Maine/Georges Bank Autumn bottom trawl survey
  • Attended the Great Lakes Panel on Aquatic Nuisance Species spring meeting at Notre Dame and took an invasive species risk assessment workshop alongside the meeting
  • Attended two Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force meetings in Washington, DC. Wrote both reports
  • Attended the Invasive Species Advisory Committee meeting in May 2014 
  • Assisted with an invasive species risk assessment of African longfin eels
  • Busy organizing a 2015 NOAA Aquatic Invasive Species Team Workshop in Santa Cruz, CA
It has been a very unique experience thus far. I've done everything from track legislation to drag up flounder and skate from the bottom of the ocean (look for a separate write up on this)!  I don't know how else I ever could have gained the variety of experiences that I have during my fellowship.

How I spent my free time

I've had a blast living in DC. I was a little apprehensive about it at first, but the city has grown on me a bit. I love fly fishing, hiking, canoeing, etc. These don't seem like things that you can do in DC. I was wrong. I met some great friends through the local Trout Unlimited chapter, the Tidal Potomac Fly Rodders group, and the Potomac River Smallmouth Bass Club. I've explored the region pretty extensively and have learned to love it. I currently own fishing licenses in DC, Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland, including trout stamps and coastal fishing licenses as needed. I've caught brook trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, striped bass, American shad, and a number of other species in the productive waters along the east coast. Here's a couple of my favorite shots:
 Striped bass in the Potomac River right off of Fletcher's Cove
 Catching carp on mulberry flies in Georgetown
Brook trout from the Blue Ridge mountains

There's also excellent birding along the coast, great camping/hiking at Assateague National Seashore, good crabbing at Sandy Point State Park in Maryland, and endless other opportunities in the tidal Potomac. Some of the most fun outdoor activity close to DC is the National Arboretum. I love bringing a blanket and book to the Arboretum and laying out in the grass on a sunny weekend afternoon. I highly suggest hiking the wildflower forest during the spring bloom! Also, you can't afford to miss Great Falls, especially during a big spring flood or during summer when the whitewater kayakers are plunging over the waterfalls.

What's next for me?

Next week I'm off to Florida to tour the Army Corps of Engineers invasive species efforts in the Everglades. The region suffers from invasive plants and animals, including large pythons! Will post a blog with pictures when I get back. Then I'll be wrapping things up in the office for the season before I travel back home for the holidays. January will be busy, as I'll be hard at work coordinating a workshop for all the NOAA invasive species professionals that will take place in the spring.

I'm now applying for lots of jobs. The best part about my fellowship is that I've been able to network with invasive species experts across federal, state, and non-profit organizations throughout the country and hopefully those connections will lead to a rewarding career. It is hard to say where I'll end up!

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