Final Days in the Office, and a Look Back / #5

It’s a slow Friday at the office- no phone calls coming in, no more constituent letters to write. These final weeks have been more administrative, with few meetings to attend, since most of the state office’s focus was on Senator Peters’ motorcycle tour across the state. The new regional coordinator, Eric Keller, seems like a great guy. He’s an EMU grad who’s worked with the Michigan League of Conservation Voters for the last 8 years. This position is a really rational next step for him! Always nice to see environmentalists take administrative positions.

The research project I took on for the Program in the Environment’s MILE program has shifted over the course of my time here, from finding a solution to the Wurtsmith Air Force Base’s groundwater contamination problem, to a more accountability-focused approach. Over the Fall, I’ll be delving into contamination on US Air Force bases more generally, and uncovering when and how often the Air Force has paid for cleanup following its own groundwater-sullying practices, and when/how often that responsibility has fallen on the EPA or state-level environmental regulatory agencies. I couldn’t have narrowed down this otherwise insurmountable study, or learned as much as I did about regional contamination, without the help of my supervisors.

As a whole, the internship has taught me a lot about what I’m looking for in a job. Most aspects of the job have been excellent- representing the senator at MDoT, environmental, USCG, and economic meetings has been an unforgettable experience. The more rote aspects of the job- entire days spent responding to constituents and seeking out local notable people who should be recognized by the senator, not to mention data entry, have been frustratingly dull at times. But hey, that’s why you hire on an intern in the first place, right? It’s all necessary work that allows the senator’s state offices to function smoothly.

All in all, my summer with Senator Peters’ Northern Michigan regional office has been eye-opening and a great networking opportunity, as well as a foot in the door of an organization headed up by a senator who’s constantly fighting the good fight in congress. It’s also given me a chance to work on a project that I’m really passionate about, that has the potential to inform and shape policy regarding Air Force accountability. I’m super grateful to have been able to take on this position.

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