“Intern Spotlight” is a series about former CEC interns, detailing their experiences at the organization and finding out what they are up to now. Over the years, hundreds of interns have helped CEC with its environmental programs while gaining useful skills and connections pertinent to their future careers.
After finishing his degree at the UCSB Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, Gavin Feiger went on to work as the executive director for the Sierra Nevada Alliance. When he was at UCSB, Gavin was an intern for CEC.
What was your internship project at CEC?
I mostly focused on community engagement with electric and other fuel-efficient vehicles. My first assignment was to collect information on businesses in Santa Barbara that controlled or owned fleets of cars, which ranged from ten to 100 vehicles. We ran data analysis on the size and number of fleets, assessed the level of carbon emissions emitted, and used that information to calculate their environmental impact. With this information we created proposals for local businesses urging them to trade in their fleets for more fuel efficient vehicles.
How was the mentorship experience?
I was able to work closely with Michael Chiacos, the transportation manager at the time. As a supervisor, he was very helpful; he created a great learning atmosphere, and really helped me adapt to the work environment.
After working at CEC and experiencing how a non-profit operates, I was inspired to continue work in the environmental sector. Learning how to research an issue and how to use that research to make an impact on the community led to me to remain in the non-profit sector after graduation.
What are you doing now?
Currently, I’m working as the acting executive director for the Sierra Nevada Alliance, which is an environmental non-profit in the Tahoe area that was created to aid in the development of other non-profits. Our mission is to organize an alliance of non-profits that focus on conservation and sustainability along the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Right now we have about 95 small to medium-sized non-profits in our network. We run trainings and hold conferences, as well as coordinate networking events, which allow our alliance members to communicate and provide support to one another.
My main focus at the Alliance has been working on our climate change program to direct natural resource planning. We worked on water conservation and forest re-planning, both in Tahoe County and along the watershed.
Do you have a favorite memory from your time at CEC?
That has to be attending and witnessing the development of the Earth Day Festival, which is hosted by CEC every year. It is a really fun and exciting event. So much work goes into the planning, and it is a huge responsibility for CEC. I have volunteered at Earth Day a couple of times, even after completing my internship.