This past semester I had the privilege of interning in the URI Office of Sustainability with Marsha Garcia, the Campus Sustainability Officer. My main focus was the Green Team Program, a program developed a couple of years ago to help campus staff and faculty members “green” their offices. The Green Team Program is a stepping-stone for getting faculty and staff involved in sustainable behavior and possibly leading to their officers being certified as Green Offices. This simultaneously helps the campus move toward achieving goals drawn out in the URI Strategic Plan for Campus Sustainability and the URI Climate Action Plan.
During this semester, I presented the Green Team Program to prospective members and was also able to experience performing the sustainability audits on a few offices. Each interaction with Green Team members was insightful – their perspectives and suggestions helped improve the Green Team Program.
Some challenges of implementing the Green Team Program are unawareness of the program or even of the Sustainability Office, lack of interest, and time constraints. By acknowledging these challenges, we hope to find better strategies for getting people involved in the Green Team Program. I addressed one of our major challenges, unawareness, with a short email blast that consisted of only a few sentences to grab people’s attention and a picture of one of our posters with a link to our website. We also placed posters about the Green Team Program around different buildings throughout the campus. A short time later, an office registered to start a Green Team. Even if there is just one response, it gives us hope that this strategy is effective.
Another accomplishment is that URI has been honored once again in the Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Colleges. URI has been honored since 2010 and has the highest “green university score” of all Rhode Island universities!
Here is a list of my responsibilities as a Sustainability Coordinator Intern:
- Update the URI sustainability website
- Recruit Green Teams from different offices
- Check in with current Green Teams
- Write Green Thinker profiles on students, staff, faculty
- Post to Facebook and Twitter
- Create weekly office tips
- Develop monthly newsletters
- Write an article about a Green Team
- Conduct Green Office certification reviews
- Develop campaign strategies
- Research and analysis
Overall this was an amazing experience and I would recommend this to anyone who is passionate about the environment and sustainability. Although challenges may arise, seeing these projects through is very rewarding. I am very grateful for the opportunity and think this internship will help me tremendously in the path towards my environmental career goals.
by Annie Ratanasim ’16
Master of Public Administration, concentration in Green Markets and Sustainability
May 7th, 2014