EPA Interns

Why I Wanted to Intern for the Office of Water Communication’s Team

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By Danielle Nichols

The multitude of internships available to college students can feel overwhelming. How does one narrow down thousands of opportunities into a few applications and further into one acceptance? Fortunately for me, this process was simple; I knew I wanted to intern for the Office of Water Communication’s team.

As an Environmental Science major at William Paterson University, I focus most of my coursework on water related subjects. I became interested in the government’s role in protecting both the water of its country’s ecosystems and its potable sources for its citizens. Last summer, I further explored these topics when studying abroad at Cambridge University. I researched the various types of governmental and constitutional protections nations use to ensure their citizen’s access to clean and safe drinking water.

This experience reinforced the necessity of protecting a nation’s water supply and its interconnectivity to other societal concerns. Without access to clean, safe and affordable water, citizens are unable to fully participate in a democratic society.

Although I felt informed on these issues, I knew that many of my peers were not. When speaking to other students about drinking water, most thought that tap water was unsafe because it was inexpensive and easily accessible. Even many of my fellow environmental science majors, whom have taken hydrology courses, doubted the quality of their tap water! As president of our campus’ environmental science club, I decided that these misconceptions must be addressed.

Last year, our club began working with the Food & Water Watch on their Take Back the Tap campaign. Our main goal is to inform students how to access municipal water quality reports, encourage students to use refillable water bottles and to get more water refill stations on campus. Through the efforts of our campaign team, more students are learning about their tap, using reusable bottles and demanding more water refill stations.

Since I was familiar with the Office of Water’s Bring Back the Water Fountain program and its relation to my campus’ campaign, I knew that this internship would help me to more effectively communicate information about tap water to my peers. As a new intern, I am grateful for this opportunity and look forward to learning more about working for the Office of Water’s communications team.

About the author: Danielle Nichols is a rising senior at William Paterson University majoring in environmental science with an honors concentration in life science and environmental ethics and a minor in political science.  Outside of academic work, she enjoys organizing several environmental campaigns on campus.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Science Wednesday: High School Interns Take the Podium

About the author: Kelly Leovic has been with EPA in Research Triangle Park, NC since 1987 and has served as the Project Officer for the Research Apprenticeship Program since 1996.

Last month I “introduced” eight high school student interns in EPA’s Research Apprenticeship Program, a collaborative program between EPA and Shaw University. The Program encourages high school students to pursue advanced degrees in environmental science.

intern using lab equipment at a workbenchThe internship provides students with hands-on research experience by immersing them in an EPA laboratory or computer project. This summer, the students learned cell culturing techniques, identifying cell DNA damage, fluorescent microscope use, analyzing filters to measure air pollution, and the application of databases in environmental research and regulations.

About halfway through the internship the students began to get really serious and a bit nervous. Why? Because on July 18 they would be presenting their projects to nearly 100 people, including their peers, parents, and EPA mentors.

On July 16, my coworker Suzanne gathered the students for a “dry run.” Some needed more work than others, but this is why we practice. The next day, we did another practice session – things were getting better. We share tips from previous years such as avoiding slides that are too fancy and, my personal pet peeve, for every slide that has a graph EXPLAIN the x and y variables FIRST.

As the students took the podium on July 18, I could tell that they were ready. All gave professional presentations on very complex topics, showing their understanding of the work that they did during their internship. Once they completed their presentations, they would each pause to ask, “Any questions?” Fortunately, we had a lively audience, so most of the students had at least a question or two. Although they dread this part, I tell them that it will make them stronger and that they will appreciate it in ten years.

We are so proud of the students who have interned at EPA. As of June 2008, 109 students have completed the four-year program, and 100% of these students attended college, with 62% majoring in a field of study related to science or math. In addition, 57% have gone to graduate school. The extra support provided by the program has also helped many of the students to receive scholarships. I guess you could say that they “took the podium and kept on going!”

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.