I am thrilled to continue my internship at the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor, MI this summer. I was initially drawn to the Ecology Center’s work before the start of the school-year, which prompted me to begin work with the development team as an intern during my academic year. As a prominent environmental non-profit in Michigan, the Ecology Center has allowed me to gain applicable knowledge about local systems working to better the lives of many. As I continue my internship this summer, I will gain increased comfort working with donors and professionals from various regional coalitions as our organization expands. Non-profits often have established methodology of working, and because of their intricate functioning, it has taken time to become comfortable with the processes of the organization.
Today, my mentor and I reviewed my summer goals, which include gaining exposure to additional program work in various subdivisions of the organization (including food programs, toxics study, and climate and energy policy), increasing my skills with our technological interfaces, refining aspects of event planning, attending meetings with various teams of the organization, gaining foundational knowledge in the grant-writing process, enriching sponsorship participation methodology, and learning the structure of progressive NGOs by studying their functionality and interviewing board members about their experiences. Outside of my internship, I am conducting research on NGOs in the political sphere, and by working directly within an environmental NGO, I will be more adequately trained to conquer these pressing questions.
Numerous exciting projects are currently in progress. The Ecology Center is advocating for accessible regional transit, restructuring internal functions to better labor standards within the organization, coordinating attendance at national and local climate marches, and continuing cutting-edge research to provide for healthy people and a healthy planet. Most recently, my role with the development team has allowed me to work with local experts on clean air initiatives in Detroit, as we advocate and fundraise to find alternatives to the incinerator that is threatening the health of local children. Asthma illnesses, originating from the largest incinerator in North America (located in Detroit), are unfair to the impacted populations. Injustice arises as trash from neighboring communities is sent to the Detroit incinerator, and populations outside of the region cannot trace the impact of their waste on the health of Detroit citizens. To bring attention to this issue, my team and I have conceptualized an event in Detroit that is free and open to the public, and is one that will raise funds to close the incinerator.
Much work has been done on this project, including the drafting of sponsorship letters, invitations, and the hiring of a speaker. Ms. Ahmina Maxey, one of Grist 50!’s identified national leaders in sustainable development, will speak at our upcoming event to be held blocks away from the Detroit incinerator. Today, I was able to continue contributing to the project’s prospected success, compiling phone numbers of potential sponsors into a mailing list for further outreach. I spent time proofreading various invitations and emails to be sent in the upcoming weeks, and contacted a self-generated list of local florists to talk about the event and receive donated centerpieces for featured decor at the event.
Today opened up new doors for continuing the environmental work in which I am invested. The opportunity to grow in my position this summer has excited me to the possibilities of my impact on the locality and beyond.