student internships

An Intern’s Inspiration

EPA photo/Kasia Broussalian

By Kasia Broussalian 

Greening the Apple has come a long way in the nearly two years since its inception. Back then, there were three of us—and me just an intern—crafting ideas for a blog in the public affairs office of Region 2.  Still a new concept for federal government agencies, our blog proposal was answered with a few confused looks. But after its launch in March 2011, our plan to tell the green side of New York City inspired others across the public sector, including myself. I took much of what I learned while at the EPA with me; guiding my current project as the host of Research Radio, a podcast series from The New School in New York.

My interest in the environment started in college. As a photojournalism student at the University of Colorado, I focused most of my school projects and freelance work on water issues in the western United States. I spent a few months traveling the Colorado River, hopping over divots in a potato field in the Teton Valley of Idaho, and on a horse-drawn sleigh feeding cattle with a rancher on the Yampa River in Colorado. All of which prompted me to intern at EPA while finishing my Master’s degree. Now as a writer at The New School—where a great environmental studies program offers many exciting ventures that engage with the world around us—I’m still trying to find new ways to tell stories about the green side of the city. This time, it’s through a radio podcast with one of the university’s professors. (Read below for an episode summary, as well as a link to the podcast).

Million Trees NYC (EPA photo/Kasia Broussalian)

When it comes to the competition for real estate between nature and New York, many assume that nature lost years ago, when the boroughs’ green forest was steadily edged out by concrete.  However, those dubbing the city as a concrete jungle need a reality check; New York has a wild side—an amazing array of diverse plants and creatures often overlooked in this metropolis—and it’s not entirely by accident. Initiatives like PLANYC’s Million Trees NYC project actively work to promote and maintain the city as an ecological hot spot.

This effort is the topic of Research Radio’s latest podcast, “The City’s Jungles; Not Quite Concrete.” Research Radio recently met with Timon McPhearson, assistant professor of ecology at The New School for Public Engagement.  McPhearson, whose research focuses on urban ecosystems, has been spending his summers and falls in the city’s parks. People may connect the Big Apple with iconic landmarks like the Empire State building and Rockefeller Center, but its heart is still green.

For the past three years, McPhearson and his students have been measuring tree growth and management practices in collaboration with the city’s Million Trees NYC initiative. Though the project’s main goal is to plant a million trees by 2017, another is to create a more sustainable and diverse urban forest. McPhearson’s lab documents the initiative’s progress not only on the health of the newly planted trees, but also on whether levels of biodiversity are increasing.

Click here to listen to the podcast.

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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High School and College Students Introduced to Waste Water Treatment in New York City

By Raymond Kvalheim

What did you do this past summer?

I know 23 students who worked in NYC wastewater treatment plants for the experience of a lifetime.
A century ago New York City had animal carcasses and garbage floating in the harbor, rivers and canals that were essentially open sewers. People were dying of cholera and diphtheria from wastewater discharges.

How times have changed! Today the New York City sewer system is an engineering marvel – an underground labyrinth of more than 6,000 miles of water mains and pipes that handles more than a billion gallons of waste every day.

During the last 10 summers nearly 200 city students have participated in the very successful Youth-in-the-Environment program.

The Youth-in-the-Environment Program in NYC is a cooperative between Bronx Community College, Woodycrest Human Development Center, Inc. and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and EPA. These agencies have contributed to the success of the program along with in-kind contributions. Each year the NYCDEP has improved and expanded their support from all the established partners by adding a variety of jobs for participation by the students. Our success can be verified by the testimonials provided by both the youth and the New York City DEP host site supervisors.

Some of the areas of interest include:

  • Working in a Pump House – Learning about warehousing, conducting inventory control, sorting supplies, storehouse operation and maintenance.
  • Working in Water Registry – Learning about customer service, cashier, processing payments, processing, validating and data entry of tap orders, engineering department office support.
  • Working in North River – Learning about warehouse, conducting inventory control, sorting supplies, storehouse operation and maintenance.
  • Working in Marine Services – Performing office support, clerical, payroll prep and data entry.

Students have gained laboratory skills in process, metals, biological, chemistry labs and research labs that reinforce STEM skills. These youth acquired exceptional skills in sample preparation, pH, temperature, conductivity analysis, sample distillation and sample evaporation.

Youth assigned to the Water Registry have assisted in: More

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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Summer in the City: Green Opportunity for Students

By Teresa Ippolito

How does this sound: spend a week learning about the environment  taking field trips to Gateway National Park on Staten Island, Jamaica Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Fire Island National Seashore on Long Island and Fort Totten Park in Queens and then maybe work for the National Forest Service this summer?

Well, that opportunity is out there.  The National Hispanic Environmental Council is working with the National Forest Service to find talented, motivated students, especially youth of color, aged 16 – 18, interested in a green career. If you are a talented and motivated student, from the New York area, love the environment, AND want a job in this field, this program is for you.

Step one is to find out about and register for The National Hispanic Environmental Council‘s (NHEC) NYC Minority Youth Environmental Training Institute which runs from  June 27 through July3.  The Institute is an intensive, science-based, residential, and highly educational seven day environmental education and environmental career program.

Spend a week this summer learning about the environment and the job opportunities it can provide.  Participating students will be housed at the Navy Lodge, a hotel in Gateway National Park during the Institute.  The Institute is designed to help build the environmental leaders and professionals of tomorrowby educating, engaging, and inspiring youth, especially Latinos/other minorities, on a range of environmental and natural resource issues. The Institute also provides information on the many different college and career opportunities in the environment.

And about working for the National Forest Service?  They will recruit youth from the Institute to work in national forests this summer.

There is not much time left. The due date?  NHEC accepts applicants to its upcoming NYC Institute on a rolling basis and up to the limits of available funding. So, there is no “due date”.  However students are strongly urged to send in their applications as soon as possible.  Selections have already been made and will continue to be.   While Institute slots do remain, at this point students need to apply promptly.

Get started at:

http://nheec1.org/uploads/2012–NYC_Institute–Fact_Sheet.pdf

About the Author: Terry Ippolito serves as the region’s Environmental Education Coordinator out of EPA’s Manhattan office.  A former science teacher and school administrator, she brings real world insights into the challenges and delights of teaching about the environment.  Terry holds a B.S in Biology and a Masters in Environmental Health Science.

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.