Blending the Environment and the Economy

Written by: Colton Mitchell

For one of my internships this semester, I have been remotely working with the Natural Resources Program at the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Luckily, this is my fourth remote internship, so I have become fairly accustomed to virtual workplaces.

The main work of the Natural Resources program is to gather background knowledge on species of interest within Texas, this then helps in the species status assessment needed for listing with the Endangered Species Act. My main project throughout the course of my internship was to assist in a call for proposals relating to grassland pollinators. While doing this I started researching best management practices for grasslands and seeing what kinds of effects these practices have on pollinators. Throughout the project I have been able to utilize knowledge from both my environmental science courses and my political science courses as we are focused on potentially listing a species under the Endangered Species Act. A large part of this, as you can see in the photo below, is meeting with other state agencies to discuss their work and any  relevant background information they may have.

I have also been able to assist with other projects throughout my internship. As the primary tax collector and fiscal manager for the state, the Comptroller’s office produces monthly Fiscal Note articles. During my internship, the Natural Resources program was tasked with writing their first ever fiscal note and I was lucky enough to be able to assist with this! Our fiscal note focuses on nature tourism and allowed for me to utilize knowledge I have gained from my economics courses. I was also able to interview Shelly Plante from Texas Parks and Wildlife department to help gain information on nature tourism across the state.

Throughout the multiple projects I have been working on at the Comptroller’s office I have been able to mainly focus on developing my research skills. I have previously completed two individual research projects and a project at the Texas Water Development Board through a previous internship. However, creating a call for proposals (as we are doing with the grasslands project) is a completely different experience. In doing this all of our focus has been on the goals and intent of the project. When I have previously done my own research, these were the smallest steps of the process, but with something like our grasslands project the research need is so incredibly specific that as a team we have now been spending 2 months on developing the research question. I believe this experience will only make my future research endeavors stronger because I now have extensive experience in research design.

Overall, I would recommend any St. Edward’s student with an interest in environmental science, political science, or economics to apply for this internship. While every class I have taken at St. Edward’s has impacted me, this internship presented me with knowledge and opportunities that I could not have found anywhere else. I was able to find the information for it on handshake, so interested students should look there for future postings or consistently look at the Comptroller’s job listing resource.


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