Meet our Interns: Jessica, Urban Greening Intern at Greenpop

Meet our Interns: Jessica, Urban Greening Intern at Greenpop

Written by: Jessica Lyon

Photo credits: Jessica Lyon, Greenpop

How a Cape Town intern contributed to reforestation and urban tree planting programs

After finishing her biology degree, Jessica wanted to get some hands on experience with how NGOs work, specifically NGOs involved in conservation and environmental issues. Having spent time in Cape Town previously, she searched online for a suitable organisation to work with and that’s when she found Greenpop. Focussed on environmental awareness, reforestation and tree planting the organisation fit well with what she was looking for. And being an urban greening intern would allow her to get involved with monitoring, data handling and research; all skills that are necessary in a science/conservation based career.

When I started my urban greening internship, I was thrust straight into the forest to help out with the Greenpop Reforestation festivals in Platbos, near Gansbaai. Here I helped with any necessary tasks like glass cleaning, kitchen work, helping move trees. During the week between the two festivals, I was able to get really hands on with the science. A small team of us went out to monitor all the trees that were planted over the course of seven years at the reforest fest. When I arrived back from the festival I inputted all of this data onto a spreadsheet, calculated averages and did some statistical tests and then along with the Head of Sustainability, I wrote a 3500 word report on our findings on the reforested trees. This became my main task during my internship.

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Daily tasks during an urban greening internship: reporting, communication and data analysis

On top of writing the report, I helped with plant days where we planted from 20 – 40 trees at schools and communities at townships across Cape Town. I inputted the plant day report information, creating map links for the beneficiaries to be able to view their plot on Google maps. I also helped with the monitoring days where we assessed the survival of the urban trees. And I gave tips, hints and interesting pieces of information about the environment and trees on the Greenpop Treetop Facebook group and for the Tree Top newsletter.

Read more about the Urban Greening Internship in Cape Town with Greenpop!

All these tasks helped me to improve my communication skills, practice my data analysis and report writing and in general the internship gave me experience of how an NGO is run, how to work well with people and how to get work done both on the field and in the office. I learnt a lot from the people that worked there particularly my supervisor Farrah. The way of working at Greenpop was very different to anything I experienced before. Everyone was very in touch with their feelings, always up for a hug or a talk or some form of “pow wow”. This was particularly evident at reforest fest where everything seemed very intense and touchy feely! Personally, especially as a reserved British person, this is not how I’m used to interacting with people. However it was interesting to experience a completely different way of working.

Inspiring communities during a Cape Town internship 

I was really happy with what I accomplished with my time at Greenpop, particularly the monitoring report that I was able to write. My highlights also included taking part in the plant days, where I got to get down and dirty planting trees. I was able to see how happy the communities were for our help and how well the tree planting had inspired the communities to do more urban greening and be more environmentally aware. I love the city of Cape Town and the interesting people you meet there and that’s what I will miss the most about my time there. Would recommend this internship for anyone looking to explore Cape Town whilst also working in a relaxed, unique work place with some amazing people doing some inspiring things!

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