TJ Watkins ’23

TREE Foundation, Mission Green, Sarasota, FL

This summer was my second summer spent with Mission Green, part of the TREE Foundation, with a goal to complete 10 tree canopy walkways in endangered forests around the world using $10 million in funding over the next 10 years. To increase focus on Mission Green and their goals, the organization brings on interns to help with social media outreach, the creation of promotional materials and even some research on trees and relevant environmental movements or changes.

My work consisted primarily of creating promotional materials for the organization, using everything from geographic information systems to video editing software. My first project assignments were to use video recordings of some of the presentations made by the organization and compile them into short videos that could succinctly showcase Mission Green’s work. I also had the opportunity to work on the hashtag campaign #biglove4bigtrees in which people could post pictures of their favorite trees. It was fantastic to see the community gather behind such a fun idea. As part of my work on social media outreach, I helped one of the marketing directors by creating a spreadsheet with different news outlets and the TREE Foundation’s contacts at each outlet. I also continued work on developing an interactive map for the Mission Green website, one that showcases all of the Mission Green “Hot Spots,” or endangered forested sites in which Mission Green is trying to build or has already built tree canopy walkways. In addition to updating the user guide I made to manage the map after my internship ends, I managed the ArcGIS account used to display these locations.

My internship 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 rising senior, I am looking for job opportunities that fit me and my interests the best. The experience working as an intern 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 my remaining year, notably, classes related to ecology or sustainable development. After Williams, 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 and to the many Williams alumni who supported me along the way and got me acquainted with the organization and its lofty goals, and to them I extend a huge thank you. I am also very grateful to the ’68 Center for Career Exploration for making internships accessible to all students.