ACF Ted Smith Conservation Intern
Maya Goodoni, summer intern
This summer I have been granted an amazing opportunity to work with Cook Inletkeeper as the ACF Ted Smith Conservation Intern in Homer, AK. I am currently a junior at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, studying Environmental Studies, a major that I have found much passion in. I am from the Big Island of Hawaii, but I also grew up part time in Homer. My mother, Beth Goodwin, and her research Partner, Olga von Zeigesar, founded Eye of The Whale Research out of Prince William Sound in 1980, where they do photo identification research of humpback whales. They’ve been taking me out to the Sound since I was a baby. Being a daughter of a marine biologist and a mariner, I grew up around the ocean and love being near it. Cook Inlet and Prince William Sound are very beautiful places with extreme diversity and richness that I feel very connected to and feel compelled to preserve the natural beauty and pristine ecosystems that Alaska provides.
Climate change is catalyzing many changes and creating uncertainty to our natural ecosystems, and resource management is becoming a challenge. I have a strong desire to learn environmental management strategies that better manage communities, natural habitats, and species that are on the frontlines of devastating impacts. Salmon are a great example of major ecosystem service that Alaskans and people from around the world rely on, and are being affected by climate change and various human impacts. Concurrent with environmental changes, our economy is also going through many changes. The health of our economy relies on our natural ecosystem’s ability to provide us with the resources and ecosystem services we need in order function and survive. I heavily emphasize on building a resilient environment by focusing the interactions of cycles within an ecosystem and how social and ecological systems are intertwined. Everything is connected, every species plays a role in their community and everything we do has an impact on our environment. It’s important for us to recognize how our ecosystems function and to keep them intact and resilient to change so they can continue to provide us with the services we need.
I am very excited to work with Cook Inletkeeper in maintaining a healthy habitat for the people and wildlife that surround Cook Inlet. My goals are to learn and grow as much as I can in the three months I’ll be here. We are all very lucky to be living in such a beautiful place. I hope to bring some of the knowledge I gain back home with me so I can help protect the uniqueness and splendor of Hawaii too. Hawaii and Alaska are similar in many ways and I am lucky to have gown up in both places and experience the best of both worlds. I will continue to keep a close relationship to both Hawaii and Alaska and to keep a close relationship with the amazing community here in Homer. I feel very thankful to be given the opportunity to help make a difference here in Alaska and to continue moving this community into a positive direction.