Applying Public Service to the Environment
In this week’s blog, McCarthy Fellow in San Francisco, Margaux Farmer, writes on her experience as an intern at the San Francisco Department of the Environment. Learn about the research and analysis she conducted, and how her experience as a McCarthy Fellow gave her insight to environmental efforts being made by the city.
I got involved with the McCarthy Fellows program to learn more about careers in public service and the environment. I was placed with the Department of the Environment, also known as San Francisco Environment (SFE) for my internship, where I worked with the Toxics Reduction team and supported them in areas of biodiversity and toxicology. I worked on several different projects surrounding areas of urban forestry, native species, pollinators, ecological restoration, and integrated pest management.
The remote setting of my internship and variety of projects and supervisors allowed me to strengthen my skills in adaptability and taking initiative, as well as to nurture my knowledge and interests in various environmental issues.
One of my goals throughout my internship was to refine my skills in data analysis. I put this into practice when I helped develop the 2021 Annual Urban Forestry Report for the Urban Forestry Council (UFC). I compiled survey responses of over twenty different City agencies regarding the status and management of their urban forests. I analyzed the data in Excel spread sheets to generate narratives, charts, and tables to represent their issues, needs, and/or successes.
Through my involvement with the Urban Forestry Council, I learned about the importance of native species and pollinators in a biodiversity context, as well as the ecology of San Francisco and Bay Area species.
The highlights from my internship are the times I spent outside. I helped collect research for a study of Coast Live Oaks in San Francisco. I was able to explore new parts of the city while collecting data on missing, dead, or misidentified Coast Live Oaks and inputting the data into a GIS Collector app.
Another time, I joined my supervisor Peter Brastow on a couple of site visits to Yerba Buena Island (YBI), where he helps with ecological restoration. I learned about a variety of native species and ongoing efforts to conserve natural spaces on YBI.
At the department, I learned the importance of details and that everything serves a purpose; from the support of a single tree for the city’s ecosystems to the contributions of each member on a project. I am grateful that I had my first internship at SFE and I know I will carry many of my skills and experiences gained from my time there into my future.