At SGA, interns work closely with our program staff on engaging and meaningful projects in several areas of sustainability. For the summer of 2016, SGA is pleased to welcome three new interns. Let us introduce you to them:

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Emily O’Reilly is entering her senior year at DePaul University, where she’s majoring in environmental studies.

While at SGA she will be working on the We Compost program. Since starting, she has helped Zero Waste Program Coordinator Susan Casey conduct waste assessments at a Chicago Public School (CPS) and observed students’ involvement with the zero waste system currently in place.  She has weighed compost, recycling and landfill waste, evaluating each based on contamination.

Emily, 21, learned about SGA internship opportunities through her school. Originally from Springfield, Mo., she’s interested in urban agriculture and involved with DePaul’s urban garden. She also has deep concerns about the environment and the need to take positive action.

“One of the main things that I’ve learned in my education with environmental studies is that environmental issues are really important and becoming more every day,” Emily, who is 21, says. “It’s also important to act on a large scale, but that’s really difficult.”

Emily thinks progress can be made by focusing on smaller issues like urban agriculture, which allows people to see the benefit of growing food closer to where they live. SGA’s We Compost program, for example, is “a means to educate the public,” which has meaning and impact, she adds.

She tries every chance she gets to be an environmental educator herself, even in her personal life. “I had house guests once who didn’t know how to recycle, she says. She tried to impress upon them the benefits of keeping as much waste as possible from the landfill. Through her internship at SGA, she thinks she can reach more people. “It’s cool to be working more within the system.”

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Brigid Paulson, a rising senior from Winona, Minn., is an environmental policy major at Loyola University Chicago. She plans to study public policy in graduate school.

During her stint at SGA, Brigid is working with Zero Waste Program Manager Jennifer Nelson, but her first assignment was to develop a PowerPoint presentation on pesticides for PlanItGreen, the Oak Park-River Forest sustainability initiative.

Brigid, 21, discovered SGA through Loyola’s job search website. She brings to her internship a deepening awareness of ecological issues. “In my ecology courses, I learned how interconnected ecosystems are and how easily they can be impacted by outside forces,” she says.

Her studies have also made her more attuned to the effects of climate change. “When I had my first environmental science class during the spring 2015 semester, I learned about climate change,” she says. “So many other environmental problems are connected to climate change [such as] the lack of fresh water resources and the movement of different plant species.”

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A graduate student studying public health at Benedictine University in Lisle, Isabella Masini earned her undergraduate degree in biology from Elmhurst College.

While Isabella will work with Jen Nelson on the zero waste program, she’s getting acquainted with other aspects of SGA’s work. She recently attended the DuPage FORWARD(Fighting Obesity Reaching healthy Weight Among Residents of DuPage) spring coalition meeting on workplace health issues. And, she’ll contribute articles to the SGA website on zero waste initiatives at CPS.

One of her first assignments was to help Susan with CPS waste assessments. Next, Isabella will send those assessments to CPS Zero Waste Ambassadors and program directors, “and they will see how the program has gone this past year.” She also will include success snapshots and suggestions for what can be improved.

Isabella, 23, has a special interest in food and agriculture. She wants to take a closer look at “how food is produced and to introduce more knowledge to communities” about food production. Isabella says she does so people becoming more knowledgeable. “We can take a deeper dive into the business side to make it more sustainable.”  

Isabella’s long-term plans are to bring together all of her educational and internship experiences with the law degree she hopes to earn in the next few years and really make a difference.