NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management was founded to work with a variety of partners to deliver the products, services, and programs most needed by the nation’s coastal communities. Tashya is a trainer and product developer that specializes in risk communication and nature-based strategies.
As a trainer, I have two focus areas: risk communication and nature-based solutions. I teach people how to communicate about risk in a way that resonates with their audience’s values. I also get to develop products and train on how to use nature-based solutions as a strategy to reduce coastal hazard impacts. I have the best of both worlds as a trainer and product developer because it allows me to share my knowledge and experiences to help others, while I simultaneously learn so much from those who I am helping.
Fresh out of college, I started as an eager-to-learn intern about 23 years ago. I was lucky to be on projects focused on helping communities assess their risks and vulnerabilities and had a great leader who provided opportunities for me to learn and use what I learned. I continued to work with communities around planning for hazards, learning how to talk about risks in a way that resonates with what people care about and value.
I grew up on the coast and spent many summers boating, crabbing, and playing in the waters in Beaufort, North Carolina and Charleston, South Carolina. I love the way the ocean, beach, and marsh make you feel. It’s hard to explain but it’s the smells, sounds, and colors that appeal to me. I also moved a lot as a kid, so I learned how to make friends and how to talk to people while adapting to a new situation. I love meeting new people, helping them learn, learning from them, and doing it to protect the coast and its people. It took me a while to get to where I am but it was because of great people believing in me, taking advantage of learning opportunities, and my love of people and nature.
After Hurricane Katrina, I had the opportunity to work with a community in Southern Louisiana. It was my first participatory mapping project and our goal was to capture the community’s perspective on what made them resilient so that we could map these features and share the findings with others. I realized how critical local knowledge is in decision-making. It was an experience that has helped shape my future work in community engagement processes.
Get hands on experience. Take training courses that are offered. Find a mentor who is willing to let you learn, explore, and fail.