Meet the Dare to Explore! trainees – Sophia

The EFI-IFSA-IUFRO project team has received many great applications for the 2019 Dare to Explore! traineeship program . The selection of candidates was tough, but is now close to being finalized for all 4 traineeship positions.
We would like to use this space to introduce the trainees and also learn about the experiences they make.
The first interview we did with Sophia who will be starting her traineeship with the Global Landscape Forum in Bonn next week.

Who are you?

I’m Sophia, and I am doing the Dare to Explore! Traineeship at the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) in Bonn on “Guiding Principles to Rights Based Approaches.” I’m originally from the U.S., and just got my M.Sc. in Environmental Governance from the University of Freiburg in Germany. I’m a(n) (environmental) history nerd who enjoys going for hikes and experimenting with baking and painting in my spare time.

Why did you apply for the DTE traineeship program and how did you hear about it?

My academic and work experience has largely been inter-disciplinary in nature within the environment-society nexus. The GLF seems like an organization that would not only embrace the kind of perspective my experiences have given me, but would provide a space to connect with other major players in international environmental cooperation who are seasoned in working across silos.

A call for applications to the DTE traineeship was kindly circulated through my faculty in Freiburg.

Can you provide some outlook on your traineeship?

My traineeship is focused on supporting GLF partners in the integration of a rights based approach in sustainable landscape decision making. I expect this role will require me to do a little bit of everything. I’m looking forward to having a wide range of tasks – from research to writing to event coordination – during my time with the GLF that will keep me on my toes. I’m especially excited to be exposed to the diversity of expertise and plethora of stakeholders that make up the GLF community. 

What is your relationship to forests?

I have spent almost my whole life living in or adjacent to forests. I was lucky enough to grow up in a house in the woods, where I could observe some of the diverse flora and fauna that wooded biomes support every day (and pick fresh raspberries and blackberries each year!). For the past few years, I’ve lived on the edge of the Black Forest, where I’ve spent many of my weekends hiking to clear my head during my studies.

I’m inspired to promote practices and policies that will ensure that more people will have access to ecosystem services from forests like the ones I’ve enjoyed in my life.

What is your favorite tree?

The white birch (Betula papyrifera) is probably my favorite tree because of its distinct bark, which is particularly stunning in the autumn when it creates a stark contrast to warm-colored leaves. The white birch also reminds me of my home in Minnesota.

What do you see currently as the biggest challenge for forests/forestry/the forest sector?

I see the meaningful inclusion of relevant people and information in decision making – especially given the growing burdens of problems like biodiversity loss, deforestation, forest degradation, and climate change – as the greatest challenge facing all ecosystems, including forests.

That’s why I’m here! 

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