Name: August Delforge
Alma Mater: California State University, Monterey Bay
Major: Environmental Science, Technology, & Policy
Background: I graduated from California State University Monterey Bay with a degree in Environmental Science, Techonolgy & Policy (ESTP), and an emphasis in watershed systems, in May of 2014. Throughout my undergraduate studies I enveloped myself as much as possible in seeking trainings outside of the classroom to facilitate my career trajectory. In the summer of 2012 I secured my first internship through the Council of Ocean Affairs, Science & Technology (COAST) working alongside biologists and field technicians monitoring Salmonid habitat, abundance, and distribution for the California Department of Fish & Game (CDFG) now known as Fish & Wildlife (CDFW).
After my first internship with the DFG, I worked in the watershed geology lab at CSUMB under Dr. Doug Smith as a lab and field research assistant for the Hollister Hills SVRA erosion project, Santa Lucia flow monitoring project, and San Clemente Dam removal sediment transport monitoring project (View publishing’s at: http://ccows.csumb.edu/pubs/). My experiences from these versatile assignments equipped me with a strong set of technical and scientific skills including: maintaining, repairing, and operating various surveying instruments, as well as researching, establishing, and conducting scientific protocols. Moreover, participating in studies allowed me to not only collect data but run post-analysis spatial and statistical test using programs such as R statistical software, Microsoft Excel, and ArcGIS, linking the theories and programs I had learned in various classes and applying them to real-world studies with data I had actually collected.
Why I serve: I decided to serve as an AmeriCorps*VISTA because I saw it as an opportunity for me to stay in Monterey, still work in the realm of science, network with professionals in my field, and improve some the soft-skills I had not acquired through research (i.e. conducting meetings, giving public presentations, ect…). However, in my time serving as an AmeriCorps*VISTA working to establish an internship program for science students, I have become more involved in my work for less-selfish reasons. Reflecting on how much of an impact my internship experiences left on me, I have come to realize the total scope and benefits that these
opportunities can provide for others as well.
Immediate benefits included: hands-on experience, money, and new references for my resume. These are all good things to have but, I would argue that my internships instilled in me more important, subconscious, and longer lasting impacts. Working alongside actual scientists gave me insights which strengthened my resolve to studying watershed systems, broadened my perspective to the many aspects of what watershed sciences included, provided links to my academic studies which gave me more confidence as an environmental science student, and ultimately led me to seek more opportunities while bolstering my academic success. These benefits are shown to be uniform for most interns, being linked to higher retention and graduation rates for college students.
Ah-ha moment: The biggest “ah-ha” for me this year has come not so much as a single moment, but as a slowly evolving process. The “ah-ha” being myself becoming more socially aware, and viewing everything that I do within, and outside of, my job with a more-focused social justice lens. Working as a STEM VISTA I have become a lot more passionate about my role in serving others. I work with students from all different backgrounds, and I can see the impact that staff and faculty can play into their individual success. Creating more of an inclusive environment within the sciences to share different perspectives is critical to the overall progress of the general field.
Future Goals/Plans: I plan to keep my VISTA position for the next year so I can work on expanding the scope of my program while creating protocols for the sustainability and longevity at the same time. This position has given me wonderful insight into the importance of logistical concepts such as leveraging resources, creating common dialogue to solve common problems, and holding accountability for oneself. I do plan on going back into my original field of environmental science with a hopeful emphasis on riverine restoration, and I feel that I will a more prepared, versatile, and adept scientist with the knowledge and skills acquired through my current position.