Standing on one of Costa Rica’s famous hanging bridges in the pristine cloud forests of Monteverde (c) Gabby Flora
Hi. I’m Gabby Flora – graduate of Rutgers University and the newest intern at the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey. My journey to get here begins in Brick, New Jersey. I didn’t leave the nest until my first semester of college, when I doubled majored in Fine Arts and Communications at Marymount Manhattan College in Manhattan. I spent every day exploring the world’s greatest, most stimulating, and truly sleepless city.
However, I left quite abruptly that summer for Little Cayman Island, participating in coral reef research and restoration at the Caribbean Coral Marine Institute. I swam with tiger sharks and schools of barracuda. I climbed through mangrove forests. I got stung by fire coral, bitten by grouper, and nearly poisoned by lionfish. I became conscious of the environment and nature. I’d have stayed there forever if my mother hadn’t threatened to drag me home herself.
I then briefly attended Ocean County College in Toms River, New Jersey. I studied environmental science and ecology before flying away to Europe. I lived in Italy for one year, where I painted, sculpted, and wrote travel articles. I explored Germany, France, Prague, Austria, Croatia, Switzerland, and nearly all of Italy. I now know my wines, my cheeses, and the difference between gelato and ice cream. By the time I came home, I had gained independence (and roughly twenty-five pounds). I had a new appreciation for ice cubes, my parents, and American television and I discovered that I’m undeniably proud to be an American.
I next attended college at Rutgers University studying environmental journalism. I commuted, waited tables, and took a number of internships. First, I interned with the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group as a member of the Energy Service Corps for one year, then with the AmeriCorps as the Energy Education k-12 Program Coordinator in New Jersey for two years and finally with the New Jersey Environmental Federation as a canvasser and field manager for six months. I graduated from Rutgers this January with a degree in Journalism and Media Studies from the School of Environmental and Biological Science and a minor in Environmental Policy, Institutions, and Behaviors.
Directly after graduation I left for Costa Rica. I was part of a program there called GREEN – the Global Renewable Energy Education Network. For three weeks, I traveled around the only country in the world that is 98% powered by renewable energy, seeing the many benefits of the world’s most valuable and underused resources. I hiked and zip-lined through rainforests, built rain-water collection units for poor communities, and developed a capstone project focused on energy efficiency in suburban communities.
Since returning from Costa Rica, I’ve focused largely on working at my current full-time job as a waitress at 10th Avenue Burrito Company in Belmar, NJ. My most recent achievement was becoming an intern here at CWF. This exciting opportunity combines all that I have done in my life so far. My writing and artistic skills are being put to good use, my opinions are valued, and my passion for the environment is fueled and inspired by the exceptional people I have the pleasure of working with. I sincerely look forward to continued work with CWF, and cannot wait to see what undertakings the summer holds.