TJ Watkins ’23

Mission Green, Sarasota, FL

During the summer, I worked for Mission Green which is a part of the TREE Foundation. Mission Green’s goal is to complete ten tree canopy walkways in endangered forests around the world using ten million dollars in funding over the next ten years. To increase focus on Mission Green and their goals, the organization is using a new book called The Arbornaut by lead researcher and Williams alumna Meg Lowman ’76 
to draw more support for its causes.

I created this step-by-step map guide.

My work this summer consisted of creating promotional materials for the organization, using everything from geographic information systems to video editing software. I began the summer by working on an interactive map for the Mission Green website, one that showcases all of the “Hot Spots,” or endangered forested sites in which Mission Green is trying to build or has already built tree canopy walkways. I learned how to use ArcGIS to display these locations, modify the map interface, and even overlay secondary maps that show why certain forests are more endangered due to climate change and deforestation. My other main project was editing a 1-hour documentary about tree research and Meg Lowman’s journey. I was tasked with creating two shorter videos (one 5 minutes long and one 15 minutes long) that maintained the story of the full-length film and that could be more accessible to potential donors. This involved identifying key plot points in the film, isolating them, and overlaying the audio from different sections of the film onto different photos or other video segments.

My internship at Mission Green could not have been more integral to my personal and professional development. I not only learned about how time management works at a full-time job, but I was also able to determine that I truly want to pursue a career related to conservation. As a recently declared geosciences major, I am always looking for job opportunities that fit me and my interests the best. The experience doing projects that used some of the skills I have developed in courses so far at Williams also gave me insight into what courses I would benefit from the most in the following years. These courses include the geographic information systems course and geomorphology. I will also continue to find ways of working on storytelling, as I have discovered that the power of communicating a story through a variety of mediums can draw people in and become more invested in a project or cause.

Moving forward, I am confident that my choice to pursue geosciences is a fitting one. After graduation, I see myself returning to a conservation-oriented job and also working on energy efficient architecture. While I have yet to discover what path will lead me to these career objectives the fastest, and even which graduate program I will choose, I am ecstatic that I have been able to identify another one of my passions through this internship.

This internship would not have been possible without my supervisor and volunteers at Mission Green, the many Williams alumni who supported me along the way and got me acquainted with the organization and its lofty goals, and the friends and family of Ellen Toll ’77—to them all, I extend a huge thank you!