When I found out that I would be partnered with Crag Environmental Law Center for my DukeEngage summer, a very vivid image of my internship experience came to mind. I envisioned myself in business casual walking into a cubicle-style, dull office space at nine AM every morning, doing my work and then leaving promptly at five PM every day. I figured that the attorneys would have no time to interact with the lowly interns and, as such, most of my days would pass in the same uneventful fashion.
I started to realize that this vision of my summer far missed the mark when I first FaceTimed my supervisor, the director of development here at Crag. She told me that I could wear to the office whatever I would normally wear to class, and that I would be allowed to come to the office anywhere between 9:30 and 10. While this came somewhat as a shock, the vision of my summer remained relatively intact, even if it was slightly more casual and with different hours. It wasn’t until I actually arrived at the office that first Monday morning that I realized that Crag would not at all be a dull summer at a law center.
It was immediately clear that every person who works at Crag is here because they are truly passionate about the work that they do and are willing to fight constantly and tirelessly to protect the natural resources and spaces of the Pacific Northwest. Beyond that, however, everyone seems to genuinely enjoy both the work that they do and the company of every other person at Crag. Like all nonprofits, Crag is very scrappy, with nearly an equal number of staff members and volunteers coming in to work every day and with the hired staff performing a number of odd jobs outside of their prescribed job descriptions. This only adds to the sense of community that is felt when you are at Crag. On my first day at the office, at our weekly staff meeting everyone went around the circle talking about what they had on their docket for the week. Unexpectedly, I, along with Gen, the other Duke Engage student assigned to work at Crag, were included in the meeting and asked to talk about our plans for the week as if we had been there for weeks. While neither of us necessarily had anything substantial to say, having only been in the office a few hours, that immediate sense of belonging and involvement, as I have noticed, is characteristic of Crag and the work that it does.
In many ways, Crag resembles a normal law firm, with the attorneys constantly on calls with clients and working on their various cases. In many ways, however, it does not. In the month that I have been lucky enough to work at Crag I have:
1. Gone to lunch with all of the other summer volunteers
2. Taken a few hours off to watch team USA in the women’s world cup
3. Driven to Washington with the staff of Crag to go white water rafting on the White Salmon River
4. Organized and attended a fundraiser concert from local artist Catherine Claire
5. Interviewed one of the stop-motion fabricators for the movie Coraline, Suzanne Moulton, who also happens to have a passion for wildlife conservation
6. Put on an only slightly comical for photoshoot for one of Crag’s major fundraising efforts
All in all, I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to be working at Crag this summer and am excited for what my next month in Portland has in store!