Lily Tsukayama: Finding A Community

Author: Lily Tsukayama
Fellow Type: California Sea Grant State Fellow
Year(s) of Fellowship: 2017
Host Agency: Port of San Diego

Dear future Fellow,

I wanted to use this blog post to share with you one of the most meaningful parts of my California Sea Grant State Fellowship these past few months. It’s less about the “what” of my day-to-day tasks, and more about the “who.”

Coming from an interdisciplinary background, I have a wide range of interests related to marine science and environmental policy. And in the coordinating role that I play at the Port of San Diego as a Fellow, basically my task is to work with a lot of people and ask a lot of questions. I am constantly looking for experts and specialists who can help me with specific parts of my job to inform the different projects I work on, and to build my foundation of knowledge.

At the Port, there are different departments and teams with dedicated staff who I know I can turn to for expertise. I can get my questions about the Port’s sustainability initiatives answered by the energy team, learn about endangered species from the conservation team, or reach out to the planning team when I have questions about upcoming projects or environmental review through the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). I also work closely with other departments: the Port’s marketing department helps me with communication strategy and offers guidance on how to use our new logo, Maritime answers my questions about the Port’s two terminals and shipping, and I can go to Government and Civic Relations to learn about local politics and events.

The Sea Grant network itself has also been an incredible resource. Former California Sea Grant State Fellow with the State Lands Commission, Maren Farnum, is my go-to for questions about current environmental and ocean-related California policies. Current Knauss Fellow Erica Felins, with the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy, has taught me so much about different federal ocean policies and research programs through the U.S. Navy, and she was also a very gracious host when I traveled to D.C. for Capitol Hill Ocean Week. And when I’m stuck on something related to aquaculture, I can turn to my officemates and fellow Port Fellows for all the information I need (see Bill’s and Heather’s blog posts).

The people who I’ve been able to meet through this Fellowship are what have truly made the experience worthwhile. The interns and staff in Planning & Green Port (where we Port Fellows sit) are some of the friendliest and most generous and hard-working people I’ve ever met. 
I sign up for as many volunteer events as I can to meet other Port employees in other departments, and am always blown away by their genuine kindness and passion for their jobs. I could not have asked for a better supervisor and mentor, who always takes the time to answer my questions, offer feedback, and teach me something new. And my fellow Fellows in the 2017 cohort, as well as California Sea Grant State Fellowship alumni, provide endless inspiration and set the bar for what it means to be dedicated to the water, ocean, and planet.

So, in a nutshell? I thought that I would be measuring the “success” of my fellowship in the number of agendas or memos I’d write in a year. But in fact, it’s measured in what I’ve learned from the people I work with and the moments I’ve shared with them. Furthermore, what I’ve gotten out of this fellowship is far more important to me than success – it’s a community. And I am very excited for you, future Sea Grant Fellow, to join our family. We are all here to support you and answer your questions, and hopefully, you’ll be there to answer some of ours.


Written by Lily Tsukayama