As an environmental policy major at the University of Maryland, I knew I’d found the perfect internship at the Office of Web Communications.
Working here is showing me a whole new side to the sites and applications I spend so much of my time on. My normal day on social media includes some frankly pathetic attempts at humor on Twitter, some carefully selected photos on Instagram, and an overwhelming amount of posts with sub-par grammar on Tumblr. How EPA uses social media, however, is a whole different story. Where my “hilarious” tweets fall flat amongst my small following of friends, EPA’s tweets convey important health and environmental information that reaches thousands and get shared constantly.
Take my first day at EPA for example, Monday, June 2, 2014, the day Administrator McCarthy announced the new Clean Power Plan. I’m not exaggerating when I say the internet EXPLODED. There were tweets, Facebook shares, and comments upon comments of the public’s reactions all flooding in at top speed. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed, but also very intrigued by social media on this scale. The following week proved to be even more interesting as I got to work on some of EPA’s posts myself. Nothing was more gratifying than seeing a post I helped write on the official EPA Facebook page!
After just one week here, I’m beginning to see a new picture form about the social media sites I thought I knew so well. I’ve come to realize that social media is not just for teenagers and their endless (beautiful) selfies, but it is a way for the whole world to keep connected to today’s important issues. As I got a chance to explore all the social media outlets the EPA has to offer (check them all out here), I realized that social media is not just about shares and retweets, but is more about participation. Having today’s most important news stories readily available invites a conversation that gets everyone involved. Whether it’s a comment on a Facebook post, a retweet on Twitter, or a video on YouTube, EPA has some great ways to encourage an important conversation with the world. I am so excited to see and learn more about social media and EPA during my summer here!
About the author: Maddie Dwyer studies environmental science and policy at the University of Maryland. She works as an intern for EPA’s Office of Web Communications.