Eli Walton, Class of 2014

Major: Government/Environmental Studies; Organization: National Wildlife Federation; Location: Washington, D.C.

Eli Walton, Class of 2014

Working at a non-profit this summer with the help of the Wesleyan Summer Experience Grant was an incredible experience. During my internship with the National Wildlife Federation's Advocacy Center in Washington, D.C., I worked on a variety of projects. As part of the team dealing with climate and energy issues, I reviewed a number of items dealing with climate change, the export of coal and other fossil fuels, oil pipelines, media coverage of climate change, social media response to climate issues, and others as well. On occasion, I was also able to attend some House and Senate hearings, one that focused on the expansion of renewable energy in a number of U.S. states, and another with the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works that featured lively debate between and among Senators and professional scientists regarding climate change, its existence, its potential effects, and its role in public policy. 

My main project for NWF was writing for a report on the effects of climate change on freshwater fish in the United States. It is one in a series of reports from NWF detailing the effects of climate change on wildlife in the United States, the others focusing on wildlife in general, migratory birds (which I also helped edit), and the next one on big game species. As a lead author on the freshwater fish report, I researched, wrote, and edited sections dealing with the effects of warming waters, increased droughts and floods, pollution, and much more on freshwater fish throughout rivers, lakes, and streams in the U.S. The report was just recently released and received a ton of media coverage, which is great for its potential to continue generating action to fight climate change. 

My other work included tracking climate change in news media and social media and putting together some graphs on how interest in and media coverage of climate issues has fluctuated over time since the beginning of President Obama's second term. I also tracked pipeline safety issues and worked on outreach for support against Keystone XL. I also manned the front desk of the organization on occasion, welcoming guests and phone calls (as all interns did), and helped write some small reports on the development of tar sands oil fields and their potential effects.

My experience with NWF was incredibly rewarding, and I am very grateful for having had the opportunity to work there this summer.