Center for Coastal Solutions / Coastal Policy Lab interns reflect on their experience

Savannah Peltrau (M.S., Engineering) and Colson Douglas (J.D. Candidate, Law) reflect on their experiences as Center for Coastal Solutions summer student interns.


Colson Douglas, J.D. Candidate, Law

Working with the Center for Coastal Solutions has apprised me of the intricacies of special governmental and taxing districts in Florida. My work for the Center has included updating the legal authority contained in the West Coast Inland Navigation District’s (WCIND) quinquennial strategic plan. Not only have I discovered the importance of legislative delegation of authority to local communities and governments but my experience working on the WCIND’s strategic plan has strengthened my belief that a government closer to the people is the most effective form of government. Special districts know the needs of the local community. In the summer of 2019, I had the opportunity to work in the Governor’s office. One of the things I learned while working for the Governor was how to monitor and track legislation. Tracking legislation came to be a part of my experience this summer with the Center. During the 2021 legislative session the Florida legislature passed legislation that changed boating law in Florida. One of my projects was to write an analysis of the impacts the bill would have on boating law in Florida. This memo was then sent to Sea Grant offices throughout the State. Working for the Center for Coastal Solutions has also provided me with the experience of statutory interpretation and the difficult task of inferring legislative intent. One of the most surprising things I have learned during my research is the broad stroke of authority the administrative agencies received under the passage of the Florida Administrative Procedure Act. My favorite part of working for the Center for Coastal Solutions was learning about Florida Constitutional law and the balance of power between the State, counties, and municipalities. This summer has been an amazing opportunity that has provided be with invaluable legal experience. I am extremely grateful for the Center and for Professor Ankersen’s guidance and mentorship.

Savannah Peltrau, M.S., Engineering

This summer, I was given the opportunity to work with the West Coast Inland Navigation District as an intern for the Center for Coastal Solutions (CCS). Under the guidance of Dr. Angelini and Professor Ankersen, as well as Dr. Nancy Montes with Florida Sea Grant, I was tasked with helping to update the WCIND Strategic Plan. Over the summer, I developed an extensive literature review which addressed the state of the science as it relates to the dredging of navigation channels, including potential benefits such as water quality enhancement through flushing and the beneficial use of dredged sediment. I really loved creating this review and learning about new strategies as well as new and emerging research about dredging, and especially new techniques to improve efficiency while protecting the environment. This research has opened my eyes to new ideas and concepts that I would like to explore further as a continue my education here at UF with a master’s degree in Environmental Engineering Sciences.   

Working with the Center for Coastal Solutions really exposed me to coastal policy within the state of Florida. While I studied environmental science as an undergraduate, I was less familiar with the legal and policy side of things. I really enjoyed getting to learn more about legislation and regulation, permitting, and environmental impact assessment. By doing so, I better understand the various steps or actions that occur before major strategies and policies are initiated and adopted. I would like to thank CCS for giving me this opportunity and working with me to make this a great summer experience, and bridge to graduate school.