By Tyler Thayer
UC Santa Barbara Sustainability; you’ve probably know of it, but do you know who works there? You’re in luck, because we’re here to introduce three of the current interns in the program. If your interested in getting more involved with Sustainability, check out the job openings that are currently available!
First on our list is Natalie, the Sustainability Columnist and sole Living Lab intern. She is a 5th year Political Science and Sociology double major, and has worked in this position for almost two years. The Sustainability Columnist has two main responsibilities: write articles on environmental research conducted at UC Santa Barbara, and plan Eco Nerd night, a quarterly event. She’s known since she was seven years old that she wanted to include environmentalism into her career, so this position perfectly combines that goal with her strong writing skills.
Natalie loves the interpersonal connection that comes with interviewing faculty about what they are most passionate about — their research. “It’s almost touching how appreciative they are when I tell them I want to work with them on an article. They’re used to doing the interview and not getting a say in how their work is presented,” she says. Sustainability promotes a level of collaboration between journalist and researcher that most other media organizations lack, with article drafts being sent for approval to guarantee information is accurately and appropriately presented.
Besides learning journalistic, administrative, and interpersonal skills that will aid Natalie in her future career, this position has opened opportunities she wouldn’t have had otherwise. After searching through campus research for an article, she came across a woman’s research focused on environmental politics, a topic Natalie was intrigued by. After reaching out, Natalie ended up receiving a research internship — a position she never would have known about if she hadn’t worked for Sustainability.
Elizabeth is a project based Carbon Neutrality Initiative Fellow. Elizabeth focuses on carbon offsets, investigating the potential role of local carbon offset procurement as a strategy to help our campus reach our climate goals. She has received plenty of practical experience, including writing a guidebook on how to develop a local carbon offset program, speaking at the California Higher Education Sustainability Conference, and identifying potential local projects and stakeholders that may provide opportunities for the generation of carbon credits.
This position has given Elizabeth insight into how complex and nuanced climate solutions are. She has been exposed to so many different opinions regarding carbon offsets, a controversial strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and has concluded that “no one solution will solve climate change.” Being in this position has given her hope for addressing climate change because it has shown her the multitude of possible strategies and the array of researchers focused on finding out what works.
Working for Sustainability isn’t all work and no play, though. In Elizabeth’s two years working as a Carbon Neutrality Fellow, she’s met plenty of students who hold similar interests. “I got close with the CNI Student Engagement Fellows on our yearly field trip to Davis and Sacramento,” she said. She credits Katie Maynard, UC Santa Barbara Sustainability, and the UC Office of the President for “making opportunities for connection and collaboration possible.”
As a Program Coordinator for the Edible Campus program, Alex ensures that all of the program’s projects run smoothly. That means writing grants and reports, representing the organization at events, arranging meetings, and creating educational programs. Prior to getting his position, Alex had no experience in environmental work, but was so impressed by Sustainability’s impact that he had to apply!
This position has expanded Alex’s horizon both personally and professionally. Three months into the job, he was asked to speak at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Edible Campus Program Student Farm. And just in case speaking in front of over 100 people wasn’t daunting enough, the Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, Jack Johnson, and Kim Johnson were attending as well, the latter two as sponsors of the farm. “I am not going to lie, I was pretty nervous,” he remembers, “but after the speech I got such positive feedback from the media, administration, and community members. It was such an impactful, memorable experience for me.
While speaking at events is valuable experience for Alex, his favorite part of the job is its flexibility — he can do the majority of his work anywhere, anytime. Many other Sustainability positions operate similarly, allowing students to work independently and according to their schedules, permitting that their work gets done on time. But if students do want to work in a group environment, there is a student office located in Ellison Hall.
Matt has been an intern for PACES (the Program for the Assessment and Certification for the Environment and Sustainability) for two years. He assists event planners and office managers in making small behavioral changes that reduce their department or events environmental impact. He has also helped four UC Santa Barbara departments become Green Certified.
This position appealed to Matt because of Sustainability’s reputation for working collaboratively with so many other campus organizations, all in the name of furthering environmental consciousness and student wellbeing. He has always been enamoured with the environment, but since starting this job, he explains that “ his eyes have been opened to the immense scope and applicability that ‘sustainability’ applies to.” He is struck by the way every action presents opportunities to live more sustainably, and is grateful that he gets to help disseminate that concept across campus.