Many Middlebury students spend their summers and January terms gaining hands-on experience with environmental organizations and companies here in Vermont and around the world. Here are just a few examples of what our students have been up to.
The Nature Conservancy at Martha's Vineyard
Forrest Carroll '15 and Benjamin Miller '15 spent their summer working under the direction of Liz Loucks, the TNC Massachusetts Islands Steward. Under Loucks' guidance, Miller and Carroll helped to maintain the numerous properties TNC owns on Martha's Vineyard. They worked on invasive plant species removal, habitat diversity preservation, and the upkeep of public trails and access. Throughout the summer they were responsible for the development and execution of site-specific management plans supporting plants and animals native to the island.
"Seeing from the ground level how an organization as powerful as TNC works is eye-opening," said Carroll, "and the way in which they bring together the consortium of conservation organizations on the island is masterful."
To find out more about a project Carroll and Miller worked on this summer, watch a short video here.
RARE: Inspiring Conservation
Seniors Fanny Zhao, Logan Gallogly, and Emily Blair spent January 2012 working for RARE Conservation in Arlington, VA. The three students worked on different projects at RARE, but all had very rewarding experiences.
Fanny worked on Solution Search, an annual contest to highlight "innovative conservation successes in communities where the need is greatest." She helped promote the contest and this year's winners, prepare for the award ceremony, and plan next year's contest. Through the internship, she "learned how a non-profit organization carries out conservation projects at the grassroots level using the principle of social marketing."
Logan focused on the expansion of Rare's conservation work in China. The work involved researching potential donors and members of a new China Board of Directors as well as research on environmental conditions in China. She remarked that "Rare is pioneering a really innovative approach to conservation that focuses on social marketing and community-based change, and it was inspiring to see the effectiveness of that method and to see how Rare has grown in the past couple of years."
Sophie Gardiner '13 spent the summer in Seattle working for Solid Ground, a non-profit whose mission is “Building Community to End Poverty." Sophie worked on a program called Lettuce Link that provides low-income communities with access to fresh, organic, and local produce. She was able to participate in many different aspects of Lettuce Link's work both on the program's farms and in the office, from leading groups of volunteers to giving out seeds at food banks to helping get donations from other organization. She reflected, "This internship has taught me how development economics, which I study at Middlebury, is implemented on a grassroots level. I learned how a successful non-profit runs and how projects are implemented, evaluated, and revised."
The Joint US-China Collaboration on Clean Energy
After studying abroad in Hangzhou, Nial Rele '12 decided to return to China for the summer to intern with the Shanghai-based Joint US-China Collaboration on Clean Energy (JUCCCE). One of the projects that Nial helped lead during his internship was "China Dream," the goal of which is to create an alternative aspirational lifestyle to the consumptive American Dream through both intellectual and emotional approaches. Nial and his colleagues compiled over 100 exemplary policies promoting sustainable living around the world to provide Chinese mayors with decision-making tools. The value of Nial's experience in his own words was that it "helped me solidify my interest in my field of study and I now know that once I graduate I can re-invest all my energies in a field that can capture my interest and have it be a worthwhile and rewarding process." After graduating Nial hopes to return to China again to continue working on clean energy issues there.
Ben Silton '11 spent the summer following his graduation interning with Millborne Farm in nearby Shoreham, Vermont. Through marketing and selling the farm's drinkable yogurt at farmers markets and various retail venues throughout the state, Ben gained a thorough understanding of and appreciation for the local food economy in Addison County. He was also able to build upon skills learned in the MiddCORE course in a meaningful way, reflecting that, "This summer, through farmer’s markets and demos, I have learned how to sell a product to someone who has never heard of it. This involves knowing my product inside and out, but more importantly, knowing my audience. As a MiddCORE alumnus, this internship was a great opportunity for me to apply this principal in the real world."
Through an internship with Esperanza International, a student run NGO based at Brown University, Libby McCarthy ’13 spent two months during the summer of 2011 living in the Ecuadorian Amazon with the indigenous Secoya community. She taught English and worked on a sustainable jewelry enterprise with the women in the community. She also plans to extend this jewelry project back at Middlebury College by finding vendors to sell the jewelry, providing the women with a sustainable income.
Upon returning to Middlebury, she wrote "My experience in the Amazon has made me truly value my education. I can now relate the human side of politics and development to the academic. I now understand the true value of water. I have experienced the fear of having no medical facilities, the worry of having no control over your environment due to oil extraction, and witnessed the agony of losing family. These insights cannot be found in a book."