By Caitlin Harwood, MIA 2013

Sunset in Madre de Dios, Peruvian Amazon.png

Sunset in Madre de Dios, Peru. The Peruvian Amazon is the second most extensive after Brazil's portion of the rainforest.

Caitlin Harwood (Bush School MPIA class of 2013) tells us about her internship experience at Rainforest Parternship, a small non-profit organization located in Austin, Texas. The nonprofit's mission is to prevent deforestation in the Andean region's section of the Amazon rainforest. Ms. Harwood, who served as a Media and Public Relations Intern, worked with the local community of Austin to build knowledge of the nonprofit's projects taking place in the South American countries of Ecuador and Peru.

Introduction Edit

NAME: Caitlin Harwood


INTERNSHIP: Media and Public Relations Intern



Duties Edit

  • Project manager — for the complete organizational website revision process through the supervision of five media interns.
  • Research — Conducted integral Andean region environmental research for organization sponsorship and remote project management which was integrated into the organization’s website and sponsorship approach process.
  • Public relations — Gave active input on public relations matters for advertisement of organization and planning of annual celebration event, silent auction and SXSW film screening. I also met with donors to establish new relationships with RP.

Additional Comments Edit

Working with Rainforest Partnership gave me a great idea of how a small non-profit works towards gaining international recognition and sponsorship. Working with the local community to build knowledge of projects in Ecuador and Peru is key to its success. That’s why RP is so dedicated to the Austin area and is present in various local activities.

I learned a lot about NGO management from working directly with Niyanta Spelman, the founder and executive director of Rainforest Partnership. Turning vision into practice isn’t easy and Niyanta gave me a great background on just how her mission to prevent deforestation in the Andean region started with small microfinance programs for local women. Because the website is the first impression that individuals get when exploring the organization, I felt that my role in creating a new face for RP was extremely important. I also didn’t know much about the technical programs used for editing the website prior to the internship so I walked away with some very valuable skills.

As with any small non-profit organization, Rainforest Partnership suffered from some growing pains. The majority of RP’s workers are volunteers and interns who come and go often and the organization tended to be unorganized at these moments of change. However, learning to manage change is a skill that any organization and its employees should possess. It is a skill that will surely assist me in the future.

More Information Edit

More information on Rainforest Partnership internships can be found on the website . You can also e-mail me ( with any questions.