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The story of 5 different Greenpop Interns and how they are adding value to an environmental project

Greenpop is an environmental NGO in the heart of Cape Town, South Africa. What started as a tree-planting project by three friends, has now evolved into an organization running urban greening, reforestation, and eco-education projects in Southern and East Africa. To date, Greenpop has planted 101,303 Trees! However, Cape Town was faced with a severe drought resulting in a water crisis last year and trees need a lot of water, around 20 liters a week. Therefore, Greenpop has introduced a new, drought-friendly project: Fynbos for the Future…

Fynbos for the Future

Fynbos (Afrikaans for “fine bush”) is the indigenous vegetation of the Western Cape. Planting fynbos brings several benefits while conserving water. So, fynbos doesn’t only need less water than trees it also catches water! On top, the plants attract pollinators such as insects and birds, some are used for medical reasons and they look stunningly beautiful. For all these reasons, fynbos is incredibly important to the Western Cape. In the three next years, Greenpop wants to plant these indigenous and water-wise species in schools across the province. By planting fynbos in schools the kids can learn about the importance of it and get a beautiful outside classroom on top of that. This close contact with nature will nurture the active citizens of tomorrow paving the way for a more sustainable future.

Of course, a huge and important project like Fynbos for the Future needs people who work on it. Greenpop offers various internships with different focus areas to students from around the world. Therefore, interns are a vital part of the organization and are involved with all their projects. Without the interns, Fynbos for the Future wouldn’t have been possible. We wanted to know their impact and how they contribute to this project in many different ways…

Robby – Mapping water-wise plants

Urban Greening Intern Robby from the United States spent the majority of his three-months internship creating multiple maps and data sheets to provide information on where each fynbos species occurs. After that, he matched his maps with the current planting sites of Greenpop’s Urban Greening Program. As a result, Greenpop now has access to the species list and can choose the right ecotypes for each location of the program. With his work, Robby paved the way for the Fynbos for the Future project.

Want to know more about Robby’s internship experience? Read his blog post here.

Landon – Researching fynbos species

If you ask someone at the Greenpop office to describe Landon, who is from the States as well, they would tell you about his passion for trees, plants, and hiking. So the perfect intern for the job! Landon came to Cape Town with already great knowledge of various different species. Lots of people would think researching plants was boring but not Landon! Next to his research on suitable plants for the fynbos garden, he was setting up a list of all the plants including information on their characteristics. There are many types of fynbos in Cape Town, and also a multitude of soil types, so therefore each site requires a different set of species.

Since there are a number of criteria the plants need to fulfill to be chosen, a lot of research was required by Landon to set up the list. But all his efforts paid off as the list is extremely useful to Greenpop. Thanks to the planning and research of Landon and Robby the building of the first fynbos garden, next to a primary school in Cape Town, could begin.

Environmental research internship
urban greening internship

Ruan – Physical implementation of the garden

Ruan from South Africa was instrumental in the completion of central tasks leading up to the implementation of the first fynbos garden: from the picking up of materials to liaising with suppliers to preparing planting sites. His work was rather hands-on than sitting behind his laptop. During the Urban Greening Internship, he assisted with the logistics of plants and materials, removed grass and weeds and co-managed plant days and workshops.

In the office, however, he helped to revise and edit Fynbos for the Future-related documents and to write curriculum material for workshops and activations. According to his supervisor, Ruan was a huge help in making the implementation of the garden run smoothly and fast. No matter how big his task was, he always did it with a smile. His hands-on work together with his experience in ecology laid the foundation for a beautiful first fynbos garden and many more to come!

Interested in an Urban Greening Internship as well? Check this out!

Christina – Promoting the project

Christina is the only non-Urban Greening Intern in this blog post but not the only American. As a Videography Intern, her main task was to create a promotional video for the Fynbos for the Future project. During her two-months internship with Greenpop, she was busy filming around Cape Town and editing the material. On top, she interviewed people affected by or involved in the project; teachers, children, and Greenpop employees. From the storyboard to the final video, Christina has put the highest amount of effort into everything she did. It became her own personal project.

The aim of the promotional video is primarily to create awareness. Awareness about the benefits of fynbos for the environment and the people. And awareness among potential investors who are willing to invest in a sustainable future. Christina’s video is of incredible value to Greenpop. It is probably the most powerful tool to communicates the importance of Fynbos for the Future to the outside world. Seeing media can have the power to bring across change, the work of talented Media Interns like Christina is very meaningful to small nonprofits and their growth. We are excited to share her video with you! Scroll down to see it!

Do you want to know more about Christina’s internship? Have a look at this blog post where we job-shadowed her for a day!

Federica – Setting up a database/ the mammoth task

When Federica from Italy arrived in Cape Town, the Greenpop team was already busy preparing the garden for the first planting day. While Robby mapped the sites where fynbos naturally occurs, she had the mammoth task of setting up a database containing all the various fynbos suppliers and their availability lists. The database facilitates Greenpop’s search for fynbos species they can plant in the gardens. In addition to this big task, Federica, who has an engineering background, set up a GIS (Geographic Information System) map with the coordinates of the various fynbos sites, the type of soil found on each site and the type of plants found there before humans arrived. However, Federica couldn’t have done all this without the previous research of Robby and Landon. So, here it all comes together.

All the interns had a huge impact on the project. They did research, helped with the implementation, facilitated the process and promoted it. Behind every large project of Greenpop are interns who provide their different skills and knowledge to achieve great outcomes. Fynbos for the Future will reconnect children with nature and strengthen the ecosystem in the Western Cape. Therefore, each and every intern involved in this project can be proud of his or her work and contribution. No matter what which internship with a nonprofit like Greenpop you are doing, you are always contributing to their project – directly or indirectly!

Not interested in Urban Greening or Videography? Have a look at Greenpop’s other internships!

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Media and Design Internship