How a Cape Town intern contributed to reforestation and urban tree planting programs
After finishing her biology degree, Jessica wanted to get hands-on experience with how NGOs work. Having spent time in Cape Town previously, she searched online for a suitable organization to work with, which is how she found Greenpop. The organization focuses on environmental, awareness, reforestation, and tree planting. That’s exactly what she was looking for! Being an Urban Greening intern meant she’d get involved with monitoring, data handling, and research. All skills that are necessary for a science/conservation based career.
When I started my urban greening internship I was thrown right into the forest, to help out with Greenpop’s Reforestation festivals in Platbos. Here, I helped with any necessary tasks like glass cleaning, kitchen work, and moving trees. The week before the two festivals, I could get hands-on with science. As a small team, we went out to monitor all the trees that were planted over the seven years of Reforest Fest. When I came back from the festival, I inputted all of this data onto a spreadsheet. I calculated averages and did some statistical tests, and then I wrote a 3500-word report on our findings. This became my main task during my internship.
Daily tasks during an urban greening internship: reporting, communication, and data analysis
On top of writing the report, I helped with plant days. Here, we planted from 20-40 trees around schools and communities at townships across Cape Town, I inputted the plant day report information and created map links on Google Maps. I also helped with the monitoring days, where we assessed the survival of the urban trees. Besides, I gave tips and hints about the environment and trees in the Facebook group and newsletter.
I improved my communication skills, practiced data analysis, and report writing. I also experienced how an NGO is run, how to work with people, and how to get work done. The people that worked there taught me a lot, particularly my supervisor Farrah. The working style of Greenpop was different from anything I experienced before. Everyone was in touch with their feelings, always up for a hug, talk, or some form of ‘pow-wow’. This was particularly evident at Reforest Fest, where everything seemed intense and touchy-feely! As a reserved British person, this is not how I usually interact with people. However, it was interesting to experience a different way of working.
Inspiring communities during a Cape Town internship
I am happy with what I accomplished with my time at Greenpop, particularly the monitoring report I wrote. Taking part in the plant days was one of the highlights, where I got to get down and dirty planting trees. I could see how happy the communities were with us, and how it inspired them to be more environmentally aware. Cape Town and her people are amazing, and that’s what I will mist the most about my time here. I would recommend this internship for anyone who wants to explore Cape Town! You’ll work in a relaxed, unique workplace with amazing people doing inspiring things!