At Defenders of Wildlife, the Center for Conservation Innovation utilizes the intersection of science, technology, and policy to drive its research for wildlife conservation which in turn informs Defender’s actions on the ground. The CCI interns are inspired by the intersectionality the Center offers, and each brings a unique perspective to the program.  

Check out our interns below to learn more about them and their work with CCI! 

Kaylin McConnell_CCI Intern
                                                                      Kaylin McConnell
Julianne Aronson_CCI intern
                                                                      Julianne Aronson
Madelyn Garcia_CCI Intern
                                                                   Madelyn Garcia

If you all could describe CCI, what would you say is its main mission? 

Kaylin (Sterling, VA) - To me, collaboration is the main driver behind CCI. I believe its mission is to take people with different backgrounds and put them in the same room. 

Juli (Westfield, NJ) - I see CCI as a type of think tank that operates independently as a research-based organization. Because of this, researchers are able to come together with other departments to compare, share, and build upon each other’s information. 

Madelyn (Bronx, NY) - I agree with the others that CCI largely operates as a research organization. In addition to that, I think one of the main missions behind CCI is its advocacy component. At the end of the day, all ideas point towards a single goal of conservation.   

Jess Senger_CCI Intern
                                                                        Jess Senger
Andre Brebion_CCI Intern
                                                                    Andre Brebion

What made you choose CCI over other departments? 

Jess (Oak Park, IL) - I viewed CCI as a way to continue my love of interdisciplinary work. I really admired how the program brings together diverse groups that might not have gotten to work together otherwise.  

Andre (Jacksonville, FL) - I saw CCI as an alternative to a career path exclusively in academia. It showed me that there was more to conservation than just science and data.  

Kaylin (Sterling, VA) - I chose CCI because it allowed me to build on a skill that I always wanted to work on: Geographic Information Systems or GIS. Additionally, I also appreciate the interdisciplinary work within CCI as it allows me to practice a wide variety of skills. 

Madelyn (Bronx, NY) - I was drawn to the program through my passion for science communication, knowing that I would be able to play a key role in that through CCI. I also felt like CCI was able to bring together different skills I want to build on, such as those of science, policy, and communication. 


What does a typical day at Defenders look like for you? 

Juli (Westfield, NJ) - A typical day at Defenders varies a lot for me. I am currently spending most of my time designing an interactive dashboard in ArcGIS Experience Builder, but over the past few weeks I have investigated scientific literature, compiled and analyzed data, and drafted documents on the five drivers of biodiversity loss. 

Jess (Oak Park, IL) - My typical day involves combing through federal databases for specific documents and reading them critically with an open mind, trying to understand the values and forces between the lines. I learn a lot about who values and benefits from conservation and the most practical ways to implement it, and I love learning from other team members through meetings and informational interviews. 

Andre (Jacksonville, FL) - A typical day looks like working on dense data packs and learning a lot from my peers every time I need help for the project to move forward!  

Join us next time, as we highlight our Field Conservation interns and their exciting work this summer! 


This blog was written by Ava Benton and Sydney St. Rose-Finear, Communications 2023 summer interns. 


Follow Defenders of Wildlife

facebook twitter instagram youtube medium tiktok threads
Get Updates and Alerts