Intern Summer Projects

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Want to know what our office worked on all summer? Here are some stories of our interns and the projects they’ve been working on! We’re very grateful for the innovative, passionate work that these students do for our communities.

Isabella is one of our Project Lead Interns. She is a second-year student studying Sustainability Sciences and minoring in Spanish. Isabella is very interested in sustainability and business, so she tries to focus her work in the office on projects and ideas that she personally finds useful, as well as something that students who study sustainability might enjoy. Over the summer, Isabella worked on updating the Potential Student Project Templates and spreading awareness to faculty and staff about it so they can use it in classes and/or share it with students. She has also been creating a college student sustainable living guide with an emphasis on financial sustainability to promote financially literacy among college students. Isabella plans to work with faculty and staff across different colleges to help make the guide as helpful and accurate as possible. During the fall semester, she plans to finish this guide and work with other interns on our Underrepresented Students in Sustainability program. Outside of her work at the office, Isabella loves dancing, knitting, sports, and Harry Potter!

Cassidy is another one of our Project Lead Interns. She is a senior studying Environmental Policy and Planning (Planning Track). She is interested in the environmental and social issues related to the conventional food system, as well as the alternatives to the conventional food system that seek to address these issues. This summer, Cassidy began a research project with the goal of answering the following two questions:

  • To what extent do farmers markets and community supported agriculture (CSA) operations in Iowa support the participation of low-income households by employing strategies that increase the accessibility and affordability of their produce? (Strategies include accepting SNAP, accepting Farmers Market Nutrition Program coupons, offering subsidized CSA shares, offering payment plans, offering incentive programs e.g. Double Up Food Bucks, etc.)
  •  What are the enabling factors and barriers to more widespread implementation of these strategies?

Cassidy began her research by conducting a literature review that developed her understanding of the unique barriers that low-income households experience that limit their participation in these alternative food institutions. The literature review also illuminated some of the challenges that farmers markets and CSAs have experienced when trying to become more accessible. She also studied policies surrounding the use of SNAP and FMNP coupons at farmers markets and CSAs. Cassidy used all this information to create surveys that she will send to farmers market managers and CSA producers this Fall. She really enjoyed creating the surveys and learning about the policies that control the use and acceptance of SNAP and SFMNP at farmers market and CSAs. Once the surveys are sent out, Cassidy will use the results to create resources that farmers markets and CSAs can use to ensure that all people have access to their fresh, local produce. 

This semester, Cassidy hopes to conduct a separate research project that investigates the sources of foods purchased by UI Dining. She would love to see our university procure as much food as possible from farmers and companies that respect environmental limits, treat workers fairly, treat animals humanely, and are near Iowa City. 

Megan is a Project Lead Intern who works closely with prairie reconstruction on campus. Her major is Geoscience and she is a fourth-year student this fall. Megan is very passionate about conservation and restoration work. She loves that Iowa is especially unique with an ecosystem that is the most unprotected on the planet- the tall grass prairie. Unfortunately, these former seas of wildflowers quickly turned into urbanization and agriculture. Megan believes that it is very important to protect what remains and restore what we can in order to create habitat and perform ecosystem services, such as air/water purification and carbon sequestration, that are crucial to the health of our planet.

Over the summer, Megan worked on the prairie restoration on Ashton Cross Country Course. Her favorite day was seeding the prairie- she said it was a dream come true. During the fall semester, Megan and the rest of the prairie team hope to expand the acre they have planted right now. They also want to involve more campus partners with the project. Megan is looking forward to reading scientific literature on prairie and restoration practices. She is also interested in how the scientific community is quantifying this work.

Hallie is one of our interns who works closely with our Underrepresented Students in Sustainability program. She is a Global Health major graduating in May 2021. Hallie’s interests include student advocacy, being outside, art, and design. Hallie’s favorite part of working at our office is that the number one goal is to help students. With this goal, the OSE helped Hallie turn her interest in student advocacy into the focus of her internship -- a mentoring program for underrepresented students interested in sustainability (USS). Hallie has also really enjoyed planning outdoor events and designing graphics for different events and programs while working at the OSE.

Hallie spent most of this summer preparing a presentation on the USS Mentoring Program for the Association of Advancement in Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) conference. She dedicated much of this summer working on this project and is excited to attend the conference virtually to present her project. Hallie says she “never would have submitted the proposal to the conference or been able to go at all without the support of the OSE.” The final product is a recorded 40-minute presentation that people will be able to view and Hallie, along with another intern, Julia, will be able to interact with virtually during the conference. Beyond the conference, Hallie is excited to meet a new group of students for the second year of the USS program!

Joseph is one of our Project Lead Interns. He is currently a third-year student studying International Relations and Environmental Policy and Planning. Joseph is interested in sustainability education, environmental justice specifically for Indigenous communities, and the intersection of economic and environmental policy. In the office, he is currently working on creating opportunities for students to learn more about how their individual actions uphold systems which perpetuate harmful social stratification and environmental degradation. This includes the continued advocacy for sustainability general education requirements, environmental justice being taught in introductory classes, and establishing a greater connection between student advocates and upper-level administration at the University of Iowa and our community.

Joseph’s work at our office began only one month ago; however, he has spent much time working to create a safer and more environmentally conscious space on campus. He has been working to advance DEI on campus, specifically within the field of sustainability. Joseph tries to focus his work on student desires, since he sees their input as some of the most valuable at the university. During the fall semester, Joseph plans to continue conversations with faculty urging them to resist concepts relating to white supremacy and to instead include curriculum centered around environmental justice. Combining his positions in our office and Student Government, he will ensure that students have a say in policy decisions that will influence our futures.

Lillie is one of our Communications Interns and she focuses on the newsletter, social media, our website, creating videos for the office, and doing promotional events. Lillie is a fourth-year student with a Communication Studies major, French minor, and an Entrepreneurial Management certificate. Her interests lie in showing the intersectionality of social and environmental justice and working towards making necessary changes within the university to address the systemic racism that has occurred forever. This summer, Lillie collaborated with a few other interns in the office to create an Environmental Justice Study Guide. Their plan is to continue compiling resources for the page with the eventual hope that it becomes a source of information for students, faculty, and staff to learn about the problems which minorities and POC face within the environmental sphere. While gathering materials to help teach others about environmental racism, Lillie herself learned things she had not known before and now aims to integrate learning and growth into her own work. In addition to the Guide, she has also been putting together videos highlighting how sustainability can be integrated into any major on campus. Lillie will continue this video project throughout the fall semester, with the first video being released in the next couple of weeks! Before Lillie graduates in December, she is looking to be involved in as many projects as possible and looks forward to seeing how our campus can grow and how we continue to build the environmental community here at the UI under our current situation. 

Emily is a Project Lead Intern who is a fifth-year with a major in Environmental Policy and Planning. Her interests include intersectional environmentalism, waste reduction, and helping others learn more about sustainability in order to become more sustainable themselves. She expresses these interests in her work at the office by focusing on expanding environmental justice academics, helping with the residence hall compost program and signage for waste bins, and working with student organizations to make their events and meetings more sustainable. During the summer, Emily worked on the Sustainability General Education learning objectives, expanding EJ courses, and the 2030 sustainability goals. Her favorite part about it was working with faculty that she had taken classes with, but now in a more professional setting where she could get to know them better. During the fall semester, Emily will continue working with professors and staff to further accomplish these initiatives, as well as working with new students to introduce them to all things sustainability at Iowa!