Less than two months ago, I started my internship with Crag. I was ready to begin working in the Development & Communications office and learn about environmental law. Right as I arrived, I felt extremely welcome. My internship supervisor helped me identify projects I wanted to work on, taught me about how the organization works, and brought in coffee cake and blueberries. As Crag was having its summer party the second day of internship, I got right to work. I wanted to show that I could make a valuable contribution from the start, and created a slideshow of images to run throughout the event.

Crag Summer Party at Lagunitas Community Room

Within the first couple of days, I realized what I wanted to focus on: creating posts about Crag’s cases. This would enable me to learn about various climate, public land, and wildlife issues and create content for our website. I hadn’t yet realized the challenges of converting legal terminology into values people hold dear or the difficulty of condensing the vast amounts of content into single comprehensive webpages. I would start by reviewing the material already created, developing a basic understanding of the issues being debated and the history of the case. Then, I met with the lead attorney to discuss the values involved, details to highlight, and recent updates. With this information, I would compile everything onto a google doc, and begin the process of writing and editing into four sections: introduction, what’s at stake, history, and team effort. I tried to achieve the fundamental goals of Crag’s communication work: conveying what we’re fighting for, putting a face to our lawyers, and highlighting the progress we’ve made. I also interviewed clients and former Crag law clerks, revised our website, and created content for Crag’s Facebook page.

Crag interns and supporters with Staff Attorney Ralph Bloemers after he argued before the Oregon Court of Appeals

“I really appreciated being given the freedom to pursue my interests and the guidance to ensure I was doing the best I could. I felt like a valued member of the team.” -Elliott Davis, DukeEngage Intern 2018

During weekly staff meetings, I was given the same five minutes to speak as everyone else. I felt comfortable sharing ideas and taking initiative, which led to me to organize and execute my own social media campaign: “Oregon Week.” Needless to say, my supervisor never needed to “get out the paper shredder” to give me something to do as she often joked about! Crag’s staff enabled me to have some really incredible opportunities during my internship. I watched the lawyers argue in the Oregon Court of Appeals and in the 9th Circuit. I met supporters at a house party and through interviews at their offices. I participated in trail restoration along the Pacific Crest Trail, witnessing the incredible recovery of recently burned forests and ensuring people could hike through the area. The most fun I had was when I went with Crag out rafting on the White Salmon River – a fun and exhilarating experience, connecting me to the great outdoors and my colleagues. Throughout the summer, I had fantastic conversations with the interns and staff possessing such different personalities, perspectives, and experiences. While the topics varied from law and politics to the various approaches to environmental conservation, to religion and philosophy, I realized the theme which underlies each of them: justice.

“I am truly inspired by Crag’s commitment to justice, for the Earth and all of its inhabitants. They passionately fight to protect natural wonders, defend threatened species, and forge a better future for all.” -Elliott Davis, DukeEngage Intern 2018

Crag interns and Trailkeepers of Oregon volunteers helping to restore the Pacific Crest Trail

My time at Crag has reaffirmed my interest in environmental lobbying, advocating for better policies to protect animals and the wild through building relationships and bringing people together in Washington D.C. I learned how complex the law is how important it is to fight to enact, enforce, defend, and improve upon them. Leaving Crag won’t be easy. It will be an adjustment to stop referring to Crag’s staff as “we” and Crag’s work as “our,” and to not chat with the awesome staff each day. But, I don’t think I’ll ever forget the little acts of kindness from the summer: when my supervisor took me out to ice cream for my birthday, when my coworker put a note on my desk thanking me for taking initiative, when a staff attorney took the time to write me long email all about options for my career path, or when a co-executive director took me out to lunch and bought me a book about a topic we discussed. I want to thank everyone at Crag for making me feel so welcome and valued, especially my supervisor Suzanne Savell for her thoughtfulness and support. I really appreciated how much they helped fuel my curiosity and leverage my enthusiasm. I also want to thank DukeEngage for enabling me to have such a wonderful experience. Although my time at Crag has come to an end, my work to protect the environment has just begun. I’m very proud to have been a part of the Crag team and to have contributed to creating a more just world.

Elliott Davis, DukeEngage Intern 2018 Elliott Davis is a DukeEngage Intern at Crag for Summer 2018. He is a rising junior at Duke University majoring in Environmental Science and Policy. Elliott is interested in innovative legal and policy solutions to climate change, deforestation, and wildlife preservation.

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