The Coastal Watershed Council is committed to fostering the leadership of the next generation of environmental leaders and is proud to do through our summer fellowship program. This year, Francisca Fazzio spent her summer working with the Coastal Watershed Council as an Environmental Leaders Fellow and taking summer courses at UCSC so that she can graduate early next year. Francisca excelled in her role, working with community members like you across CWC events that inspire people to explore, enhance and protect the lower San Lorenzo River. From Paws in the Park to River Health Days to neighborhood engagement, Francisca learned about and took on leadership roles in CWC programs that engage the Santa Cruz community at the lower San Lorenzo River. While conducting this hands-on learning and engagement, Francisca was also hard at work behind the scenes researching best practices in community engagement and volunteerism and applying them to the behind the scenes processes that make CWC’s programs successful.

Join CWC in thanking Francisca for all of her hard work, enthusiasm, creativity and dedication! And hear from Francisca about what made her experience so unique:

After beginning my Environmental Studies degree at UC Santa Cruz, I soon found myself passionate about watersheds and fresh water management in the face of drought and pollution. I received an email about the Coastal Watershed Council’s Environmental Leaders Fellowship and became ecstatic at the opportunity in front of me. Being a fellow at a nonprofit was not something I had ever considered before, however, presented a gateway to learning the very subject I am most interested in. This enthusiasm has only grown with my time as Environmental Leaders Fellow this summer.

From researching volunteer engagement, taking part in writing an Action Handbook and applying these best practices first hand, I was involved in each step of the way to inspire the community to engage with the San Lorenzo River watershed. I became intimately familiar with the historical context of the river’s purpose and value to Santa Cruz which shed new light on how much potential exists for its future transformations. I have most enjoyed listening to the community and hearing how people use the river now and what people want to change. This was also a great opportunity for me to develop my public speaking skills for a broad audience, something I have very little experience in. I was able to quickly synthesize information and relay it to people in community meetings and CWC-led events.

This fellowship has allowed me to envision my future and gave me the confidence to challenge myself. I am now sure that I want to get involved with water management and study to get my masters degree in hydrology. This fellowship allowed for me to become more involved with the community and gave me the responsibility to choose what I learned about the process of protecting watersheds. I believe this opportunity motivated me to become actively a part of the community rather than merely a student in town. I now realize how much the San Lorenzo River and the city of Santa Cruz have to offer and how grateful I am to be living in a city that has organizations as passionate and determined as the Coastal Watershed Council.

If you or someone you know is interested in working with the Coastal Watershed Council team through an internship or as our next Environmental Leaders Fellow in summer 2019, take a look at our internship descriptions and how to apply here.

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