Internship with Rainforest Alliance

Businesses that depend on the land require financial support in order to thrive economically and sustainably. This support will stimulate growth and secure an economically viable future. The obstacle then becomes overcoming their high-risk investment quality. Forestry businesses, farms, and small and medium enterprises that exist in developing countries face this barrier when applying for long term loans.

The Rainforest Alliance has a renowned and credible seal that is awarded to producers who meet rigorous requirements and standards set by the Sustainable Agriculture Network and the Forest Stewardship Council. The reputation that accompanies the seal guarantees investors that from a social and economic standpoint, certified businesses holding this seal would prove to be a lucrative and a worthy investment. This expectation allows producers to be eligible for both long-term and short-term loans. While the Rainforest Alliance does not directly offer monetary support, it supplies a connection for these businesses to lenders that are capable of elevating them to their full potential.

My time interning for the Rainforest Alliance gave me an in depth understanding of this process. My position was under the Programs, Planning and Assessment Division of the organization. I had the privilege to view the quarterly reports from each project that the organization was involved in for the fiscal year of 2015. The organization focuses on several areas of concern: forestry, climate, agriculture, tourism, and sustainable finance.  Each report gave a detailed description of the project, it’s accomplishments, it’s challenges, and a short story of a person that was directly impacted by the Rainforest Alliance’s work in one of 80 different countries. I was not only lucky enough to read these updates, but also to hear from the directors of each project themselves. I sat in on phone conferences between them and the senior vice president of the organization, Joshua Tosteson. After  gaining a full understanding of the most essential points of interest for each project, I summarized them in a final report that was submitted to the board.

This was my largest accomplishment, and perhaps, one of my greater contributions to the organization. I also produced a power point presentation with information that will aid in the launch of a future organization-wide learning series.  This program is designed to improve internal communication among separate departments. My role in this development was to thoroughly research existing methods of communication in non-profit organizations . Then, I had to apply this information to the specific needs of the Rainforest Alliance and offer academic support for the learning series program we were creating. My work will be included in the final proposal.

Overall, the experience was rewarding. I learned a great deal about the operation of a certification organization and was exposed to a professional environment that caters to the environmental issues that I am most interested in. I gained skills and knowledge that are not obtainable in a classroom setting. My internship at the Rainforest Alliance was both, professionally and academically valuable.

By Shannon Mora