A Flowering Journey

By Vanessa Trafas

When I began my search for the perfect internship in Washington DC I already knew where I wanted to work. EPA was the perfect opportunity for what I wanted to do. And, so, it was to be. I remember my first day at the Office of the Pesticide Programs in the communications branch. I was so excited I arrived an hour early. The only thing that worried me was whether or not the people I was going to work with would be friendly and open to me as an intern.

In the beginning I lacked the confidence to ask my coworkers if they needed help. But, as the weeks went by I became more and more in rhythm with the way the office worked. The turning point in my internship was when I was asked to sit in on a meeting about EPA’s role in the Philadelphia Flower Show. This meeting set the mood for the rest of my internship.

I spent the next several weeks working on a project for the Philadelphia Flower Show, searching for pictures of beneficial insects and other information for a slideshow presentation. The EPA display educated people about innovative and safe ways to control pests. In working on this project I made connections with many experts in other branches at the Pesticides Office and worked closely with coworkers to prepare the best presentation. The teamwork gave me the opportunity to learn about the wide array of issues the office deals with. The culmination of this project presented me with the opportunity to travel to Philadelphia to show the result of my work.

Meeting everyone who put so much time into the Show made me recognize the magnitude of my contribution and appreciate all the work that the Pesticide Office puts into educating people about safe pesticide use. It is clear that EPA wants to help people understand there are safe ways to controls pests. . Our goal was to provide people at the flower show with information on IPM in gardening, insect repellents, and other tips to protect against vector-borne diseases. Show attendees were able to ask questions about gardening and safe pest control.

I greatly miss the work and learned many valuable lessons from people at EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs. I am thankful for such a rewarding experience and this internship has given me confidence going forward in the future. I hope someday that I can give back and help an intern with a rewarding and motivating experience.

And did I mention that the EPA display won the Best in Show for Non-Academic Education? Others must have noticed our enthusiasm for safe pest control too.

About the author: Vanessa Trafas interned in the communications branch of the Office of the Pesticide Programs from January to March 2012. She is a recent graduate from the University of California, Santa Cruz where she studied both Business Management Economics and Environmental Studies.

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