Meanwhile in Texas…

Guest blogger: Sara-Katherine Coxon

For having spent just over six weeks in Austin, TX, I’m doing a pretty good job at blending in with the locals. Tacos have become a regular breakfast. I have a tattoo, though it could be bigger. I even managed to clumsily insert a “y’all” into my conversation with a barista this morning, and thanks to my double name, I definitely could pass as a southerner.

But being a Texas connoisseur was not a requirement for my internship with skc-edfthe Austin branch of the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), where I support their Clean Energy Communications team. For EDF, this means our team works alongside energy experts (economists, attorneys, scientists, etc.) to strategically communicate their technical, wonky research into salient messages and compelling content tailored for specific audiences. For you, the public, it means our fingerprints are all over every carefully crafted tweet, blog post, and article on clean energy you’ll see coming from EDF.

The diversity of work is definitely the most exciting part of this position: I’ve been developing content to share with the clean energy team’s thousands of followers on social media, learning about breaking news trends in energy pricing, efficiency, and renewables, and strategizing about different ways to communicate technical research in the form of infographics and data visualizations. Most recently, I drafted a blog post on the economic benefits of a little piece of regulation known as the Clean Power Plan, the most ambitious step the country has ever taken to cut emissions from the America’s heaviest polluters (power plants).

Working on climate and energy issues against the backdrop of Austin is a very different than my previous experience of working on policy in fast-paced Washington, D.C. Austin is a funky and laid-back city, with abundant cheap, tasty food, sweltering days (with just as many swimming holes to cool off in), and just the right amount of weird. The lazy evening air, cats lounging on sidewalks, and unkempt neighborhood lawns make this area seem more like a giant backyard picnic than the prime downtown real estate that it is.

Admittedly though, I’m looking forward to getting back to Santa Barbara – to having the ocean across the street from me and feeling a cool breeze that isn’t generated by an air conditioner. But y’all better not touch my suitcase of breakfast tacos.

riparian assessment

Sara-Katherine and fellow Brennie, Ray O’Connor, “discussing” how best to communicate Ray’s assessment of degraded riparian habitat and water quality, likely resulting from an influx of a non-native mammalian species.


Sara-Katherine Coxon is a 2016 MESM student.  She is specializing in Economics and Politics of the Environment (EPE) with a focus in Strategic Envioronmental Communication and Media (SECM). This summer she is interning with the Environmental Defense Fund’s Clean Energy Communications team in Austin, TX. 

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