In this installment of “Where are they Now?” we talked with Naomi Rowden, who worked with Crag during the summer of 2009, after her second year of law school.

Throughout her time at law school, Naomi had heard of Crag in numerous different contexts, through professors as well as other students interested in environmental law.  She applied for the legal intern position through the Northwest Public Service Career Fair, and after interviewing with Courtney Johnson, Naomi was excited to be selected for a summer internship position with Crag.

During her time at Crag, Naomi worked with Chris Winter on a number of tasks. The majority of the work related to Clean Air Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act challenges to offshore oil and gas drilling in the Beaufort Sea and impacts to subsistence hunting and fishing for the North Slope Borough of Alaska.  “Chris was an excellent supervisor, providing real feedback on my work, as well as many opportunities to attend high level meetings and get out for site visits.” She’s grateful that her colleagues and supervisors at Crag gave her experience handling real responsibilities and not just busy work, and introduced her to the full spectrum of work that Crag attorneys perform.  This gave her the confidence to go forward through law school and into her future endeavors.

After law school, Naomi participated in the Presidential Management Fellowship Program, a competitive program for anyone with an advanced degree looking to work with the federal government.  Shortly thereafter, she was hired by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Inspector General in Washington DC.  There, she worked for a year and a half before rotating to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Honolulu, Hawaii, in the office of Pacific Reef National Wildlife Refuge Complex.  After her rotation was finished, she rejoined the EPA Office of Inspector in Seattle.  Her job as a Program Analyst entails evaluating EPA programs to try and find ways to improve them, and writing and publishing reports that can be accessed by outside attorneys interested in the EPA’s work.

“My time at Crag gave me the confidence and experience to take myself and my goals seriously.  For the first time, the idea that I could pursue a career in environmental law or public interest work that has real impacts and results in the world seemed possible.”

Although she enjoys her current job and is happy to be working to protect the environment, Naomi notes at the federal level it is harder to see the impact of your work.  She pointed out that, with Crag especially, we can really point to the direct results of our work. “At Crag it was exciting to know that my work was helping to improve people’s lives and protect the environment. Similarly, the time I spent in Hawaii working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service it was also easy to see the direct on-the-ground results of your work – to know environment is better protected and managed as a result of your efforts is very rewarding!”

Professionally, Naomi is passionate about land and resource management issues in the west and northwest.  In addition, she’s concerned for the health of the oceans – the more time she’s spent learning about the stresses on our oceans and experiencing the beauty of the Pacific, the more concerned she becomes with working to protect them.

Erin Elliott is a rising junior at Duke University working with the Crag Law Center for the summer as part of the DukeEngage Portland program. She is majoring in biology with a minor in environmental science and policy.

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