Rebecca Held Knoche (MS ’11)
GLRI Program Coordinator, CollabraLink Technologies, Inc. under contract to NOAA
Silver Spring, Maryland
What did it mean to you to be named a Doris Duke Conservation Fellow? What were some of the activities and opportunities that held the greatest impact for you?
I was very honored to be named a Doris Duke Fellow. The weekend trip to gather with other fellows in West Virginia was very meaningful—going to that beautiful conference center, and interacting with other like-minded students from all over the country, was a great experience. I also felt proud of my effort to help organize a trip to inner-city Detroit as part of the fellowship; the ability to learn about the needs of those communities in person was a profound experience for myself and others on the trip. Finally, having the financial assistance from the fellowship did so much to help ease the financial burden of graduate school—and made it easier to pursue job opportunities after graduation without having to worry as much about salary constraints.
Can you tell us about your SEAS experience? How did it help you advance in the conservation field?
The classes I took at SEAS—taught by excellent professors—provided a strong foundation for my career in the environmental field. The combination of classes on ecology, climate change, environmental policy, environmental economics, statistics and more, gave me the knowledge and tools necessary to succeed in my field of environmental restoration work with the federal government. My time at SEAS left me very well-prepared to work in a field dealing with many complex environmental issues, competing interests, different partners, etc. In particular, my master’s project led directly to a job as a contractor to NOAA working on environmental restoration work.
What kind of changes have you observed in land conservation in the U.S. over the course of your career?
My work has primarily focused on restoration of the Great Lakes. There has been a lot of money and attention towards that effort over the past 10 years (primarily through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative). Lots of progress in cleaning up degraded areas of concern, restoring and conserving habitat, reducing runoff that leads to Harmful Algal Blooms, etc., which has been very encouraging. There is definitely political and public support to help clean up and conserve important areas...though there is always tension with business/corporate/economic interests. Obviously, the values and priorities of the sitting president play a large role in administrative rules, regulations, and general direction of the government in environmental areas. However, it is encouraging to see that even as administrations change, there remain dedicated grassroots, “bottom-up” efforts to continue with environmental protection and conservation that really do make a difference.
Note: Prior to 2017, the School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) was known as the School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE). References to “SNRE” have been updated to “SEAS” to reflect the name change.