Intern Army Mission: Donation By Force”

By: Kathleen Oxley and Courtney Talcott (Region 1 Interns)

As EPA interns we are met with many complicated tasks that full-time employees look forward to giving to the bright eyed, flip flop wearing, over-zealous students who enter their building every summer. In Region 1, the interns in the Office of the Regional Administrator were told that their biggest task this summer was to somehow convince employees to donate at least a thousand pounds of food for the annual Feds Feed Families summer food drive.

After hearing about the lack of donations last summer, one of the new interns worried the mission was impossible, “No one is ever going to give us cans, just awkward eye contact and quiet hellos.” Therefore we came together, with all our unique and various academic interests (from environmental science to international relations), and came up with a full-fledged plan of attack.

“We can go about it like the Allied forces in World War II: surround the enemy (unwilling employees) until they are forced to surrender food,” said the international relations major who had really wanted a State Department internship. We set up a command center in front of the elevators to constantly remind employees of our ever begging presence. We stalked people in their cubes to make sure they were not harboring any possible donations. “Who are these creepy kids and why do they keep pushing around a cart?” said one reluctant scientist.

After a week, our efforts were not successful, so we went to plan B: engage employees with some friendly competition. The Regional Administrator’s office was planning an employee awards ceremony and we used that to our benefit: stage a Feds Feed Families invasion. We organized a canned food castle building contest (going along with the beach theme for the ceremony) among offices to encourage people to donate as well as give people a good excuse to take a long lunch for the “benefit of the office.” It worked! 892 pounds later and some great effort from the regional laboratory in Chelmsford, MA: we had a winner (the Lab) and more items donated in one event than Region 1 produced after an entire summer of effort last year.

We realized that this mission was possible; it just took an army of interns to get the job done! We may not be able to test drinking water or write enforcement policy, but as interns we engaged employees to help the people in their community, by just donating a few cans, so that they can enjoy the environment the EPA works to protect.

About the authors:Courtney Talcott is a rising senior at Bates College, where she majors in Environmental Studies and plays both soccer and softball. Courtney was a volunteer intern in Region 1’s Office of Public Affairs this summer.

Kathleen Oxley is entering her first-year as a law student at Elon University. She graduated from Boston University this past May, where she studied International Relations and Political Science. She has interned in the EPA Region 1 Public Affairs Office for the past year and will miss it greatly when she moves to North Carolina.

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