Traveling from Monterey directly to the front lines of the Gulf oil spill response effort, Danielle Johnson (MPA ’12) has been working this summer for the International Bird Rescue Research Center in Alabama. Her job has involved cleaning the oil off birds, caring for them, taking part in the euthanasia of those too sick to survive in the wild, and the more joyous role of releasing healthy birds out of captivity. “Getting down here, I have learned more about birds and relief work that I ever imagined,” says Danielle who hopes to continue her work in Alabama in the fall as part of the voluntary Development Project Management Institute Practicum (DPMI Plus) program. DPMI Plus gives students the opportunity to train for development work in a three week intensive course and then go out in the field and use the skills and tools they have acquired.
Danielle’s aunt, Barbara Callahan, is the Alaska regional director for IBRRC and has been working on spills since the Exxon Valdez struck the Bligh reef in Prince William Sound in 1989. Her work has always been an inspiration for Danielle, who jumped at the chance to help out when disaster struck in the Gulf of Mexico. As it turns out, Danielle got much more than she bargained for; an experience that runs even deeper than saving Northern Gannets, Laughing Gulls and pelicans. As Danielle concluded an article she wrote about her work (“Mercy and Release: Oiled Bird Rehabilitation on the Gulf Coast”) for the Women’s International Perspective (thewip.net): “I have learned more in the past few weeks than I imagined was possible. But perhaps, my greatest insight is about the power, influence, and impact of humans on the world around us. I am grateful everyday to be able to be a part of a relief effort for a disaster that, as a consumer and car owner, I helped cause.”