Written by: Beau Brockett Jr.
Each season, WMEAC welcomes a team of interns, fellows and employees to help them meet their mission and everyday activities. Below are WMEAC’s Summer 2018 staff.
Sierra Warrner, Environmental Education Intern
Sierra is from Gaylord, Michigan, and is majoring in natural resources management with minors in biology and environmental studies at Grand Valley State University.
Sierra’s role as an environmental education intern was the perfect fit for her dream career. At WMEAC, she loved to teach children about the environment in hopes that they’ll make a difference in conservation. After college, she would love to start a nonprofit that educates families on environmental issues. To reach her career goal, Sierra plans on attending Goshen College for a masters degree in environmental education.
Mara Spears, Recycling & Environmental Education Intern
Mara already had a lot of experience in recycling when she came to WMEAC to work with the Kent County Recycling and Education Center. As an undergrad at Grand Valley State University, she interned with the Green Team, working to make her campus zero-waste. She graduated this year with dual degrees in communication studies and environmental studies, deciding to stay in Grand Rapids rather than returning home to Byfield, Massachusetts.
Mara would love to take her passion about consumer and food waste and use it manage or own a sustainability-based company grounded in community.
Maggie Scannell, Fund Development Intern
Maggie is from Grand Rapids, but has spent her last two summers working at camps in Utah and Washington State and studying abroad. This summer, she stayed closer to home and decided to intern at a local non-profit that would pair well with her major in business management and minor in nonprofit leadership. Her development internship seemed like a perfect fit, especially with WMEAC’s element of sustainability. Maggie enjoyed the community aspect of WMEAC and has been encouraged by all the relationships and support WMEAC has across West Michigan.
Maggie is excited to continue to expand her horizons and to develop her passions whether that be through pursuing higher education, working in a local nonprofit, or becoming the CEO of Girl Scouts of America.
Emma Miedema, Environmental Education Intern
This Grand Rapids native has kept her education close to home. After receiving an Associates of Science from Grand Rapids Community College, Emma transferred to GVSU to major in biology. After many professors recommended WMEAC’s internship program, Emma joined the team.
As an education intern, Emma loved teaching kids about their local water system right in the system itself. If wading through water isn’t possible, she loved teaching the basics of stormwater runoff to kids on an EnviroScape, a model of a neighborhood.
Emma is considering a Master of Science post-GVSU.
Briana Meeker, Environmental Education Intern
While studying at Aquinas College for degrees in community leadership and sustainable business, Briana frequently heard about her institution’s neighbor, WMEAC. This summer, with the other environmental education interns, she taught children about watersheds, water quality and recycling, and is creating a zero-waste handbook. She loved the ability to plan out education events and then see them through.
After Aquinas, Briana wants to take sustainability and zero waste to larger scales. She would love to see waste diversion bins in every park, business and school.
Derell Griffin, Environmental Fellow
Derell is a graduate student at the University of Michigan, where he is working towards a Master of Landscape Architecture. The Wege Foundation is sponsoring him as WMEAC’s environmental fellow.
Derell’s primary project this summer was determining best practices for community engagement regarding water quality and water conservation initiatives in the City of Grand Rapids. He also helped with WMEAC’s Inclusion and Development of Environmental Allies and Leaders Committee and worked to make stormwater management understandable to all.
After finishing his masters project developing a new site for Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s Food Innovation Center, this Detroit native hopes to work in landscape architecture and, later, receive his doctorate to teach it.
Olivia den Dulk, Inclusion & Outreach Intern
Academically, Olivia hasn’t travelled too far from her Grand Rapids home. She is a student at Calvin College, majoring in both environmental studies and international relations and minoring in both French and data science.
Outside of school, though, Olivia’s outreach goes far. Last year, she studied and interned in Accra, Ghana, where she saw how marginalized and impoverished people are disproportionately affected by environmental problems. She was inspired to learn how environmental justice issues were being addressed in her own community. This summer, Olivia helped find ways to make WMEAC more inclusive and accessible to all people. She loves meeting people who are passionate about the earth, its people and how the two interact.
After college, she hopes to take environmental policy and justice to an international level.
Julia Gho, Policy Intern
Julia saw WMEAC’s policy intern position as a way to combine her masters in public policy at Pepperdine University with a personal interest, the environment.
This summer, Julia researched local issues like PFAS and stormwater management and participated first-hand in workshops and events on them. She then updated WMEAC’s Policy Committee on what she learned.
From Tokyo, Julia received her undergraduate degree in international relations, Chinese and communications. She would like to continue
blending the environment and public policy by working at a think tank.
Erin Gleason, Environmental Education Intern
When Erin was young, her mother, who received a natural science degree, taught her all about wildlife. Erin’s mother influenced her to get a degree in something similar and to teach young children.
So, this natural resources major at Grand Valley State University spent a year working at the Brighton Recreation Area in Howell, Michigan, close to her hometown of Livonia. She created children’s wildlife programming, a similar venture to what she did this summer for WMEAC as an education intern.
After GVSU, Erin would like to get an Associates business degree to prepare for her dream career: owning an educational wildlife sanctuary.
Emily Fritz, Environmental Education Intern
This Grand Valley State University senior is from Troy, Michigan, but she stayed in Grand Rapids this summer to educate young students on the local watershed and the environment around it. As a natural resource management and biology double major, the program is a perfect fit.
Emily’s favorite part of her WMEAC internship is being able to connect with communities while enhancing their understanding of the state of their environment.
Beau Brockett Jr., Eco-journalism & Blogging Intern
When Albion College senior Beau first saw an opening for what’s now his current internship, he saw it as a meeting grounds between his educational interests: journalism, community development and the environment. He loves that he can write about positive programming that satisfies his dorky side, from equitable, green financing to sustainable placemaking.
After graduating and learning how to be a good editor, and passing the title of editor-in-chief of Albion’s student publication down, this Richmond, Michigan, native would love to eventually own a community paper or otherwise be a mover and shaker of a close-knit community. A Masters of English could be a possibility.
WMEAC offers a variety of internships each season. For more information on our internship program and positions available, click here.
Photos by Ericka Popovich