Out West student blog

Creating content and exploring parks

On the beach with the ocean behind her, a young woman in a red hat takes a selfie including another woman in a yellow safety vest and two men digging through wooden bins full of sand.
Fiona Sandi, pictured with her supervisor Kekai Mar and the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources archeological team.

Fiona Sandi (she/her)
Hometown: Miami, FL
Major: Communications ‘23
Internship: Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources

Fiona Sandi recounts her experiences creating content for beach clean-ups and reef safety and learning about Hawaii’s parks during her summer internship

Through my internship at the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, I’ve been able to attend several outreach events, including a beach clean-up where my coworkers and I spoke with volunteers about the sanctuary designation process for Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. This event was special for me because I got to visit people that I met at the conservation conference that I attended at the beginning of my internship. It was so interesting to hear about each of their projects individually and to learn about the many departments, nonprofits and community organizations that are working towards conservation on Oahu.

My main projects are developing a social media/communications plan for the sanctuary designation of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. I am designing templates for social media posts to announce each stage of the process. At state parks, I’ve worked on filming and producing a PSA video for visitors at Diamond Head State Park, collaborating with park rangers to capture footage of the park and instructions for trail safety. I’ve also designed and illustrated posters for the beach clean-up and have written blog posts and press releases for State Park events.

I really love working with both of my supervisors, Kekai and KelliAnn. They have both helped me learn so much, and have really shaped my internship into such a well-rounded experience. In between meetings and outreach events, we’ve gone hiking in the forest together, walked to get shaved ice during lunch and have visited waterfalls and tide pools. I will definitely miss them and many of my other coworkers when I leave, but I plan to stay in touch and visit next time I come to Oahu.

After hearing a variety of perspectives about the ever-changing environment in Hawaii, I've realized the act of protecting at-risk or endangered species is more important than ever. Climate change as well as increasing tourism and land development are just some of the challenges that are facing state parks and the Division of Aquatic Resources. I’ve learned about many different roles within the Department of Land and Natural Resources as well as in other companies that I was exposed to during the conservation conference. Going forward, I definitely want to dedicate part of my career towards protecting the environment, whether that’s in social media, park outreach or environmental consulting.

Recent Center News

A keystone species slowly disappears from the Yukon; Cuyama Valley, California farmers boycott Big Carrot; a pond turns pink in Maui; environmentalists oppose an Alaskan Arctic oil drilling project; direct-air carbon capture arrives in the Central Valley; pikas return to the Columbia Gorge; and other environmental news from around the American West.
Advisory Council Member Nancy Pfund and colleagues author a new paper exploring the benefits of prescribed burns, highlighting how new technologies in wildfire mitigation, vegetation management, and forestry can help prevent catastrophic fire. The paper also investigates how a variety of innovative funding models could be harnessed to dramatically scale the ability to use prescribed burns safely and effectively in the future.

Photo courtesy of Brandon Kapelow

Every year, the Bill Lane Center awards a $5,000 fellowship to support a journalist illuminating crucial issues about the American West. We are proud to announce Brandon Kapelow as our 2023-2024 Western Media Fellow, and the publication of new work by last year's fellow, Janet Wilson.