Dmytro Zlenko, a Master of Environmental Management student, spent his summer as the Duke Biodiversity Fellow at National Parks Conservation Association.

Each year, Nicholas School of the Environment students complete internships with organizations around the world. These internships provide valuable opportunities to gain career-related experience and build a professional network. 

Duke Environment recently caught up with Dmytro to learn more about his experience.

What are you doing at your internship, and how are you using the skills you've learned at the Nicholas School?

I'm focusing on understanding the biodiversity credits concept, its application, and its connectivity to National Park landscapes. This includes researching biodiversity data KPIs, evaluating available conventions, and interviewing field experts.

One year at Nicholas School taught me three invaluable lessons I'm utilizing during this consultancy internship. First, Dr. David Katz, during his Global Environmental Class, taught us that there are two major types of policy briefs: one where you advocate for a specific solution and another where you examine two solutions without leaning toward either. Now my task is to investigate the pros and cons of biodiversity credits from the lens of the National Parks Conservation Association. Second, during their econ and stats, Dr. Lori Bennear and Dr. Betsy Albright helped me structure and organize data. Finally, the possibility of taking classes at other schools was invaluable. As such, Fuqua Client Consulting Practicum led by Dr. Chris Wedding was a priceless preparation for this summer as, together with a team of business and environmental students, we were tackling a question of a similar nature with another conservation organization. 

How did the Nicholas School help you during your internship search?

Duke Conservation Society Conservation Trek

Duke Conservation Society Conservation Trek

The Duke Conservation Society Conservation Trek to Washington, D.C., helped me better understand the conservation and policy field while meeting alums and experts who spearhead America's environmental efforts. Consequently, we visited the National Parks Conservation Association, where I instantly fell in love with the atmosphere and its people and met my supervisor, Dr. Ryan Valdez. I couldn't imagine a better mentor than Dr. Valdez, who is highly revered at our schools as well as cares deeply about both environment and people. 

How will this experience help you in your career?

This fellowship with NPCA is beneficial in shaping my understanding of environmental consulting. Along with conservation proficiency, I'm straightening my ability to draw expertise from my life experience multiplied by experts I was so fortunate and honored to encounter across several continents where I studied and worked. An opportunity to pick up the phone and call any Nicholas School alum to ask environmental questions is one of the most precious values our school instills. The school provides superior background knowledge, and this fellowship gives me room and the possibility to consolidate the latest expertise on the subject thanks to our outstanding community of alums.