Like so many opportunities in the summer and fall of 2020, the expectations of an internship experience shifted. Along with fluctuating expectations, paid internship opportunities became scarce. In late summer 2020, a generous donor stepped forward, providing funding to the Department of Environmental Sciences to support students with internships focused on the green sector. We are honored have this opportunity to support students as they persist in the face of multiple obstacles and disappointments during the pandemic. These students embody all that we hope to see in ENVS students: ingenuity, engagement and commitment to a greener future. Join us in congratulating these five ENVS students. We hope their internship experiences inspire others, especially current students interested in how to engage in green career focused internships.
Isaac Benaka (C’21)
Internship Organization: Rock Creek Conservancy
About Rock Creek Conservancy: Rock Creek Conservancy is the only organization dedicated solely to Rock Creek and its parks. The creek meanders 33 miles through the Washington metropolitan area, crossing federal lands as well as district, city, county, and state boundaries. Although parkland borders much of the creek, the surrounding development threatens the health and beauty of these natural areas. Rock Creek Conservancy is uniquely positioned to foster outreach, education, and efforts to overcome threats to Rock Creek.
Rock Creek Conservancy works through a combination of education and advocacy. Their strategy is to build partnerships with government agencies, nonprofit organizations, community groups, and residents to work together to preserve Rock Creek for present and future generations.
Isaac’s Internship Reflection: I am currently creating an analysis of the overall health of the Rock Creek Watershed. For this project, I have researched different aspects of the environmental conditions in and around the park such as the hydrography of the watershed, various pollutant loads, the health of aquatic animal ecosystems, and green infrastructure. Researching these topics has given me a greater understanding of the threats to ecosystems adjacent to urban landscapes, a topic that I could see myself investigating in future careers. I have realized that engaging with problems facing my community encourages me to work hard and gives me pride in the work I am doing. This powerful impact on the satisfaction of my work is something I will keep in mind for seeking out job opportunities.
My internship with Rock Creek Conservancy has also given me a lot of great experience in how environmentally focused non-profits operate and what kind of work they do. I appreciate that the nature of my work has been fairly interdisciplinary.
Jaya Brizendine (C’22)
Internship Organization: Sensing Nature
About Sensing Nature: Sensing Nature is an environmental education company located in Seminole, Florida. To Sensing Nature, ecotourism is about ethically connecting people with outdoor learning experiences, conservation, communities and sustainable travel.
Jaya’s Internship Reflection: My internship with Sensing Nature is supporting me in my professional goals because I am passionate about the intersection between education and the environment, and this internship is giving me real world experience to learn more about how to be an effective educator as well as a clearer perspective on what career path I should focus on pursuing in my future. This fall, I am developing engaging curriculum targeting different age groups in preparation for distanced-learning initiatives in correlation with Florida Educational Standards (CPALMS). The curriculum is based on different ecological topics that Sensing Nature teaches through their webinars. I am finding and creating activities to correlate to these education components and matching them to the different standards. I am also attending various trainings for different curriculums, including Project Learning Tree, Schoolyard Wildlife, Flying WILD, Aquatic WILD, and Project WILD. In addition, I am assisting in the creation of promotional and educational videos advertising Sensing Nature’s webinars and on specific environmental topics. Finally, I provide support for the Tech Team (virtual field trips and videography) and NatureCast team (speaker list and programming ideas). I am able to interact with many professionals within the environmental education community in Pinellas County, receive feedback from my mentors, and work with children in education; and I have the opportunity to continue developing my collaboration and leadership skills alongside the other interns in the program, all of which contribute immensely to my professional goals.
Nate McMullen (C’21)
Internship Organization: Seaside Sustainability
About Seaside Sustainability: Seaside Sustainability’s mission is to protect and restore our oceans by educating people of all ages about the critical issues that threaten our environment; promoting best practices for sustainability; and inspiring meaningful advocacy and hands-on action. Seaside works with schools, cities and towns, environmental groups, technology companies, and individuals. They strive to ensure the healthy future of oceans, rivers, wetlands, and estuaries around the world.
Nate’s Internship Reflection: My internship at Seaside Sustainability provides me with three invaluable keys to unlocking my professional goals: work experience in an environmental non-profit, insight into the Green working world, and a network of skilled and well-connected professionals. There is only one way to prepare for the working world, and that is to join it. In allowing me to experience some proxy of real life in the environmental field, Seaside has convinced me that I belong in an industry dedicated to ameliorating humanity’s negative global effects and ensuring a healthy future for our world. The internship also allows me to develop relationships with successful people within the field, which could prove invaluable as I grow my career outside of Emory.
A major part of my internship is researching sustainability news and issues, particularly as they relate to our oceans, and communicating my findings to the public through blog postings. This role both furthers my education as an ENVS major and encourages general environmental literacy, which is key to inspiring real positive change, while simultaneously promoting the cause of environmental justice. Because pollution disproportionately affects those who are already disadvantaged, we must address issues of environmental degradation and equality in tandem. My internship allows me to explore those issues in striving for a more sustainable and just world.
Rachel Musetti (C’21)
Internship Organization: Endangered Species Evaluation Intern, U.S. Department of State
Internship Responsibilities: The student will receive a publicly available list of addresses for domestic facilities. The student will then find and evaluate federal/state/local data each facility with respect to likely endangered species. All data sources will need to be documented. The student’s final product will be a series of facility specific lists of likely species and reference information that will be added to future project scoping.
Rachel’s Internship Reflection: This year, I am interning with the US Department of State assisting in endangered species evaluations. Primarily, my work involves researching and compiling the potential endangered species, including those that are registered as endangered, threatened, under review, or delisted, for domestic facilities across the United States. My work will be used as a starting point for evaluating potential impacts under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act in order to protect species and their habitats.
Protecting endangered species and conserving biodiversity cannot be stressed enough. Species not only offer aesthetic and spiritual value to humans, they also help improve economies, ensure balance in ecosystems, and can even provide medicinal benefits. Nonetheless, increasing numbers of species become endangered or extinct every day, primarily due to anthropogenic causes. I’m grateful and empowered to be working to ensure they are protected and know that I am trying to be part of the solution.
Wrishija Roy (C’21, RSPH’22)
Internship Organizations: Crowdsourcing Sustainability and Tao Research Lab/Rowland Institute at Harvard University
About Crowdsourcing Sustainability: Crowdsourcing Sustainability isa community of people around the world helping to reverse global warming. The impact of their collective efforts accumulates and spread to others. They’re harnessing their collective wisdom and efforts to improve the quality of life everywhere, both today and tomorrow. They are crowdsourcing sustainability into the world.
Tao Research Lab: The unifying theme of the Tao Research lab work is the development and application of manufacturing and fabrication technologies to discover new science and solve important global challenges. They currently have two families of projects: 1) Development of atomic-resolution MRI and 2) engineering solutions to catastrophic climate change.
Wrishija’s Internship Reflection: It is a core mission in my life to combat climate change and steer humanity towards a livable future, and my internships have made this mission feel like an achievable reality. Both internships have been incredibly rewarding and have supported me in various ways. Both my supervisors were considerate and highly involved in not only the completion of my assigned responsibilities, but also in developing my areas of interest and my personal skills.
At the Tao lab, I am a researcher for the Ocean De-acidification team as part of Project MEER:ReflEction. In doing extensive literature reviews, I learned a lot of new content on the efforts of climate scientists, particularly in the areas of geoengineering and marine ecology. I have developed my hard skills and scientific skills from performing quantitative analyses, synthesizing and conceptualizing our findings, and giving multiple presentations. This internship is also providing me training upon recently becoming my team’s spokesperson, which has helped in developing my interpersonal and leadership skills. I know I will gain further professional exposure through upcoming conference presentations and co-writing a manuscript.
Through Crowdsourcing Sustainability, I gained experience in community-building and outreach on the virtual interface, maintaining records and notes, brainstorming ideas and strategizing within a team, and adapting to changing responsibilities and dynamics. Since I have interests in non-profit work, particularly within climate justice and advocacy, this opportunity also exposed me to the social components of work in environmental science.