By Abby Singer
Hello from Philadelphia(ish)! This summer I am spending 9 weeks commuting from Haverford to Philly, where I’m working as an Environmental Analyst Intern at Magnolia, an environmental startup that provides ecological offsets through the sale of compensatory mitigation credits. Through this process, Magnolia develops important restoration and conservation projects related to stream and wetland mitigation, critical habitat conservation, endangered species protection, and stormwater management. This is a fairly new idea, so let me explain it a little further. As a result of environmental regulations, such as the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act, developers are required to achieve a “no-net loss” of natural resources. When Magnolia completes a restoration or conservation project, regulatory agencies will transfer the ownership of mitigation credits to the company, which developers can then purchase to meet the compliance needs of their project.
As an Environmental Studies major with a focus in Earth Systems & Economics, much of my time at Haverford has been spent discussing interdisciplinary approaches to environmental issues, so Magnolia’s business plan, which considers environmental issues, environmental policy, and economic development, was extremely exciting to me and led me to contact the company about the internship.
As the company just started a few years ago, it is still very small and I am one of five employees working in the Philadelphia office. The size of the office naturally fosters a very collaborative and communicative workspace where I’ve found myself working in different roles with each member of the team. One of my main responsibilities is to research emerging environmental markets around the country to inform company decisions on potential projects. Most recently, I have been compiling information on MS4 (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System) permits in Pennsylvania to identify municipalities that may need assistance with meeting stormwater management requirements. When I complete my research, I will present what I have learned to the founders of the company and work with them to formulate the next steps to develop projects. In addition to researching, I also work on several other projects, such as helping with outreach efforts to landowners and developing marketing materials.
Outside of my work in the office, I also recently had the opportunity to travel with the company’s Restoration Ecologist to one of Magnolia’s project sites in Pennsylvania. The site I visited is particularly interesting because it serves as both a stream and wetland mitigation site and endangered species conservation site. During the site visit, I was able to assist with performing necessary maintenance routines and compiling data for the site’s monitoring report, which the company is required to compose on an annual basis.
Thanks to the wide variety of tasks that I’ve had this summer, I have been exposed to all aspects of the company and understand all of the steps it takes to see a project and its subsequent credits all the way through. The experiences and knowledge that I’ve gained this summer will be helpful in any of my future opportunities and endeavors in the environmental field.