Externship with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation

hubbardby Matt Hubbard, Class of 2016

I am originally from Richmond, Virginia, and I attended the University of North Carolina at Wilmington where I received a degree in Political Science. After graduating I was a staffer for a U.S. Senate campaign in Virginia and also a Director with YMCA Camps Sea Gull and Seafarer. I currently serve as an Assistant Symposium Editor for the William and Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review and am a member of the National Trial Team. 

This past fall semester I had the privilege of accepting a legal externship with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF). I had looked forward to the externship program since coming to law school, eager for the opportunity to earn class credit while also receiving real life work experience. I hope to practice within the field of environmental law, and a semester with CBF presented an excellent opportunity to both gain experience in this area of law while also serving the important mission of a non-profit advocacy organization that has been working hard to protect the bay and its watershed for over 40 years.

My externship got off to an unique start when I arrived for my first day to find the office looking like a disaster zone after new carpeting had just been installed. It turned out to be the best possible way to begin the semester though, as there is no better way get to know people than moving heavy furniture together!  My supervisor, Peggy Sanner, is the Assistant Director and Senior Attorney for the Virginia section of CBF. She started me off with some standard legal research surrounding the Chesapeake Bay TMDL, or total maximum daily load, which is a set of pollution regulations developed by the EPA for all the bay states. As the semester continued my research and analysis projects became more diverse, and I was assigned more complicated tasks that were both more interesting and more challenging. My work wasn’t restricted to legal research, however, and some of my favorite days included meetings with members of the Virginia General Assembly, meetings at the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to advise the drafting of regulations, and attending a speech about the bay given by Attorney General Mark Herring.

Eel Caught in a River Pot

Eel Caught in a River Pot

The highlight of my externship came when we invited several members of the Virginia Association of Counties to come aboard one of CBF’s educational vessels for a  tour of part of the lower James River. As a group we observed oyster beds, caught several varieties of fish, and examined crabs and eels collected from CBF river pots. A true appreciation for the value of the bay and its watershed can only be achieved by experiencing it, and it was powerful to watch the participants gain this understanding.

My externship has been one of the best parts of my law school experience so far, and I encourage everyone to find an opportunity that aligns with their interests and take advantage of this unique learning experience.

Before and after pictures of planted grass to serve as a runoff buffer on the lower James River

Before and after pictures of planted grass to serve as a runoff buffer on the lower James River