Meet the 2016 Conservation Interns  

Learn about this year’s outstanding cohort of Ted Smith Conservation Interns and the meaningful projects they are working on this summer!

Sarah Brey

Podcast Researcher/Producer
Island Institute

Most of the group on a hike in the Chugach Mountains, a tradition during orientation ©Anna Dalton

Most of the group on a hike in the Chugach Mountains, a tradition during orientation ©Anna Dalton

Sarah will be responsible for arranging, conducting, recording, editing and transcribing interviews which will be used to create podcasts for publishing on the Island Institute’s Alaska climate change website.

Sarah just completed a master’s thesis in Environmental Humanities exploring the sense of place in the Brooks Range through themes of wildness, relationship and history. She drew on personal experiences during five hundred miles of hiking and pack rafting last summer in order to illustrate a larger story of the place and its history. Hailing from Nebraska, she is a recent transplant to Alaska and is looking forward to immersing herself in the community of Sitka.

Giovanna Acosta Cabrera

Environmental and Community Health Researcher/Advocate
Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT)

Giovanna will assist in planning and implementing a community research field sampling institute on St. Lawrence Island. She will also support ACAT’s grassroots organizing work in Anchorage.

Giovanna is from Puerto Rico and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Environmental Health at the University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus. It is important to her to create consciousness about environmental health issues by educating people and advocating for a change in their behavior through research and environmental justice. Giovanna hopes her internship at ACAT is her first great step towards leaving her legacy of environmental conservation and justice.

Savannah D’Orazio

Outdoor Youth Educator
Discovery Southeast

Savannah will lead elementary age children as they explore nature as a part of Discovery Southeast’s environmental education summer camp, Outdoor Explorers.

Savannah was born and raised in the Bronx but her home base is now Miami. Her family moved to Florida where she finished her last two years of high school. She attends Occidental College in Los Angeles where she will be a junior this fall. She is pursuing a major in Biology with an emphasis in Marine Science and minor in Education. She hopes to work on educational policy in the STEM fields one day. Savannah loves chocolate ice cream, cows and singing in the car.

Nina Finley

Naturalist Intern
Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies (CACS)

Nina will develop and lead natural history hikes and environmental education activities for youth groups at CACS’s Peterson Bay Field Station.

Nina is a junior at Whitman College majoring in Biology and Environmental Studies. If she could be any animal, she’d be a moss-mat specialist salamander. During a year abroad, Nina studied sea lion foraging in the Galapagos, monitored hawksbill turtle nesting in Ecuador and taught elementary school in the Amazon. As an undergraduate she has researched sculpin jaw morphology and sea star wasting disease, and hopes to complete a PhD in Marine Disease Ecology. Nina loves to make new friends by sharing her passions for organisms, ecosystems and ultimate Frisbee.

Maya Goodoni

Wild Salmon & Climate Change Intern
Cook Inletkeeper

Maya will collect data on the effects of climate change on wild salmon. She will also educate Alaskans and tourists about the threats posed to salmon from ocean acidification, climate change and mining.

Maya was born and raised on the Big Island of Hawaii. As the daughter of a marine biologist and boat captain, she grew up doing many adventurous activities and loves spending time near the ocean. She was also fortunate to have spent a lot of time in the Prince William Sound and Homer, Alaska conducting humpback whale research with her mother. She is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Hawaii at Hilo studying Environmental Studies. Being raised in Hawaii and Alaska, with such unique ecosystems, Maya is passionate about the environment and dedicated to creating a more resilient world.

Alexandra Guilford

Grassroots Organizer
Alaska Center for the Environment (ACE)

Alexandra will plan and implement ACE’s 3rd annual Organizer Academy and support their community organizers in identifying new supporters of salmon and clean energy initiatives.

Alexandra grew up on the coast of Maine and currently lives in Connecticut. She is a senior at Mount Holyoke College, majoring in Geology and minoring in Physics. Having spent most of her childhood exploring the woods and the rocky beaches, she developed a love and appreciation for nature. This not only led to her college career path, but resulted in a strong desire to get involved with conservation and sustainability efforts. She spent last summer working for ACE in Palmer, Alaska and fell in love with everything about the state, from the incredible scenery to the people she met. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, kayaking, skiing, baking and scary movies.

Lee House

Story Telling and Communications for Social Change Intern
Sitka Conservation Society (SCS)

Lee will create media and stories for SCS that recreate the native cultural traditions of “shagoon”, the sense of place and being, across Southeast Alaska.

This is Lee’s second summer in the Conservation Internship Program. His passion for creative pursuits and the outdoors have led him to diverse opportunities such as backpack leader for middle schoolers, conservation trail crew leader in the Pacific Northwest, designer for an adventure magazine in New England and visual storyteller for Southeast Alaska Conservation Council. Be it through writing, data visualization, video, photo, audio and more, Lee believes that creative storytelling has the ability to simplify complex challenges and unify communities. He is looking forward to another summer of documenting and creating compelling media pieces that thread environmental and social narratives together in Southeast Alaska.

Danielle McAvenia

Tribal Conservation Intern
Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council (YRITWC)

Danielle will complete fieldwork, logistical support and outreach for YRITWC as a part of their Sustainable Lands Department team.

Danielle was born and raised in San Diego where she spent most of her days outdoors enjoying the beautiful scenery. She is passionate about conservation, sustainability and environmental justice. She moved to Northern California to finish her Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Studies at California State University, East Bay. While there she founded the Solar Power Club where she assisted middle school students in building off-grid photovoltaic systems that were later sent to regions of energy poverty around the world. Her club also received funding from the University to install 20 solar panels on tribal land in Lakeport, California, which will offset 103 tons of carbon. Danielle is an adventurer who loves hiking, being out on the water and learning about wildlife, especially killer whales. 

Joshua McNally

Tongass and Clean Water Storyteller
Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC)

Josh will be employing visual media to help tell stories about the connection between people, place and sustainability in Southeast Alaska, in addition to providing support for other communication needs.

Josh received his BFA from Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 2013 with a focus on folklore and traditional art forms. He believes storytelling and creating human connections is an integral part of conservation work because people only protect the things they love, and you can’t love something unless you identify with it. Josh is finding it easy to identify with Alaska’s pristine landscape through the resources it provides and the diverse cultures and communities that are dependent on them.   

Connie Melovidov

Fisheries Conservation Intern
Alaska Marine Conservation Council (AMCC)

Connie will support AMCC’s efforts to reduce bycatch and catalyze community-based fishing opportunities. She will conduct outreach in coastal communities throughout Southcentral Alaska and create new materials that tell the story of AMCC’s work.

Connie is a senior at the University of Alaska Anchorage pursuing a degree in Biology. She is from Saint Paul Island, Alaska, a small community located in the Bering Sea that is influenced culturally and economically by the commercial halibut industry. Growing up in this small community and a household that commercially fishes for this flatfish has allowed her to love and appreciate not only marine ecosystems but the importance of sustaining Alaska’s natural resources.

Maka Monture

Media Intern
Alaska Youth for Environmental Action (AYEA)

Maka will create two different short videos about the AYEA program, with input and support from AYEA teens and staff.

Maka was raised in Yakutat, Alaska and is of Tlingit and Mohawk decent, born into the Raven moiety, Copper River Clan, House of the Owl. Maka was involved with AYEA during high school. She served as President of Yakutat’s Chapter and as one of the campaign leaders in the 2010-2011 Wild Alaskan Salmon Campaign. Maka holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Applied Indigenous Studies with a Minor in Anthropology from Northern Arizona University. While there, she worked with Connecting Higher Educations Indigenously, a Flagstaff-based group that encourages community engagement, retention/recruitment of indigenous students and promotes indigenous knowledge.

Madison Perlick

Stream Watch Intern
Kenai Watershed Forum

Madison will develop and implement Kenai river protection projects as well as train, engage and support volunteers while educating the public.

Madison spent the majority her life in Massachusetts and now studies Sociology and Nonviolence at Colorado College. She is interested in the interconnectedness of environmental and social issues, and committed to creating change through community engagement. Madison enjoys painting, writing, growing food and exploring the outdoors.