Marine Affairs student gets hands-on experience with environmental consulting firm

Photo of Haley Griffin
Marine Affairs student Haley Griffin

Alaska is a long way from Maine, but that is where Haley Griffin (Marine Affairs, ’22) has focused a lot of her attention the past few months. Working remotely from the Biddeford Campus, Griffin compiled a timeline of oil spill contingency plans for Alaska’s Prince William Sound as part of an internship.

“I helped formulate or build a history of all of the regulations and planning since the Exxon Valdez oil spill happened,” Griffin explained. “It was a matter of compiling a history of the contingency planning since then.”

The Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred in Prince William Sound on March 24, 1989, when the Exxon Valdez, an oil tanker owned by Exxon Shipping Company struck a reef and spilled nearly 11 million gallons of crude oil. It is considered the worst oil spill worldwide in terms of damage to the environment.

Griffin recently completed her internship with Nuka Research and Planning Group, LLC , an environmental consulting firm offering a range of services to support policy development, planning, training, outreach, and facilitation for international clients in industry, government, and nonprofit sectors.

She compiled the data for Nuka’s client, the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens Advisory Council, an independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote the environmentally safe operation of the Alyeska Pipeline's Valdez Marine Terminal. The council weighs in as the public’s voice on regulations being considered by government officials in Alaska.

“The data makes it easier for members of the legislature to make decisions based on what has worked in the past and what has not worked,” Griffin stated. “There are recommendations under consideration to make the response more efficient.”

Griffin also did some communications work for the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF), an organization whose mandate is to address the conservation of Arctic biodiversity and to communicate its findings to the governments and residents of the Arctic.

In addition to those contributions, Haley also attended team meetings and international conferences regarding marine policy changes and webinars such as one on U.S./Russia cooperation across the Bering Strait.

“It's has been really cool to connect what I've been learning here at UNE to what I've been doing at my internship,” Griffin said. “Applying all of the regulations and laws that I've learned to real-world situations just makes things so much clearer.”

Griffin says she could not have landed an internship at a place more supportive than Nuka.

“At Nuka, all the personnel come from different backgrounds and everyone comes together with all of this knowledge and does amazing work,” she commented. “It is very inspirational to me. I am excited to take this experience and move forward with it.”

Griffin became the first intern at Nuka as part of an agreement between the consulting firm and UNE.

“The CAS Internship Office in collaboration with the Academic and Career Advising Center was thrilled with the opportunity to partner with Nuka Research & Planning Group, LLC, especially at a time when we are rapidly broadening our remote internship options,” commented Cynthia Simon, B.S., M.S., director of the College of Arts and Sciences internship office. “Haley brought a strong work ethic and excellent communication and team skills to Nuka, where she directly applied knowledge from her Marine Affairs courses, strengthened her marine policy knowledge, and learned how different organizations collaborate toward a common goal. We are delighted to support our students’ professional growth by having them contribute to Nuka’s mission.”

Griffin will be working part-time with Nuka throughout the summer.

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