As a graduate student at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, I learned about PLEN through an email sent from our campus career center. With an undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of California at Berkeley, I pursued a Master’s in Marine Conservation. Since then I have concentrated my coursework on environmental policy and how it is implemented and maintained in the marine realm both domestically and internationally (check out my very own marine policy blog! www.greenoceanpolicy.wordpress.com).
This past election year, I, like so many others, became inspired to involve myself in the political process. I realized that attending the PLEN Women and Congress seminar would help me get even more involved and help me build a network of policy professionals who are willing to support me while I construct a career out of crafting and advocating for sound environmental policy. The seminar not only exceeded my expectations, but introduced me to the all of the possibilities that exist for women who pursue policy related endeavors. I cannot overstate the value of seeing and meeting women who currently work on Capitol Hill. Their hopes, fears, what they struggle with, and how they overcome challenges in the workplace is completely unique to women in this sector. Due to the hiring freeze on federal positions and the effects of this freeze on government sub-contractors, I thought my career choices would be limited. Before the seminar, I assumed that I would simply finish my degree, find a job with a non-profit, and maybe go to law school to eventually to help me move up through the organization and work more closely with aspects of environmental and coastal law. However, PLEN taught me that my involvement in the political process does not need to be limited in this way.
Through my experience at PLEN, I learned that everything is ultimately connected. Environmental sustainability is closely tied to economic sustainability and thus a huge matter of concern for in the government. I have seen that in order for societies to better their natural ecosystems, the human systems in place must first adequately provide for the basic material needs of the general populace. This can only be accomplished when members of the general populace make up the governing bodies involved in decision making.
PLEN helped me realize that I am capable of running for public office. Before PLEN, I did not realize that policy is formed by average people. As someone who has a background of purely academic science, I never thought that I could be involved in politics. However, I am just as able of adequately representing the needs of constituents as anyone else. In fact, I may be much more capable than someone who favors the interests of industries before the environment.
Victoria Knorr is currently a graduate student at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, where she studies marine conservation. She attended the PLEN Women and Congress seminar in 2017. If you’re interested in learning more about Victoria’s work and marine conservation in general, follow her blog at: www.greenoceanpolicy.wordpress.com!