Jordan Lillybridge interned in Chicago with IISG Water Resource Economist Margaret Schneemann. He is a senior at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin majoring in geospacial science with a minor in geographic information systems.
One of the biggest stresses of a college student going into his/her last year of school is finding an internship or long-term job that will help them grow as a person. When I was offered the position of Green Infrastructure Workforce Intern with IISG, I felt as if everything was coming together.
I knew I had a great opportunity to explore the green industry. Coming into the internship, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my geospatial science and GIS degree, but I knew I needed some work experience to realize what my real desire was.
This internship gave me the opportunity to understand a significant problem that underdeveloped or low-income communities have – flooding. Before the internship, I had little knowledge about the process of installing and maintaining green stormwater infrastructure.
Over the past three months, I have had an opportunity to be a part of the Calumet Stormwater Collaborative (CSC). CSC is a group of stakeholders that has come together to tackle flooding issues within the Millennium Reserve (southern Cook County). As a part of the Training & Maintenance working group within the CSC, I focused on issues and gaps related to training skills and workforce development. One of my tasks was to assess what other cities have done before us to address these issues and create summaries of these reports. We had monthly collaborative meetings, which was my chance to update our working group on new information as well as get key feedback from local case studies.
Aside from reading and reporting to our working group about areas to focus on, I had opportunities to step out of the office and network with different organizations. The first was a Center of Neighborhood Technology (CNT) presentation about their RainReady Initiative at the South Suburban Mayors and Management Association. CNT was educating the community and potential at-risk citizens on their community and neighborhood green infrastructure programs.
The second was a GreenCorps action plan meeting. GreenCorps is an organization that trains workers with barriers on how to maintain the environment including green infrastructure installations. People who were a part of the meeting gave valuable feedback to GreenCorps on how to help them grow.
Many of us who attended were able to meet past and present trainees. For me, understanding their perspective was pivotal considering some of the trainees grew up in the same neighborhood as me. To see people wanting to make a difference in their community by focusing on sustainability makes me appreciate everything that organizations like GreenCorps and OAI Inc. do for the low-income and underdeveloped neighborhoods. Workforce development for the green infrastructure industry is key.
The past three months working in the CSC with Margaret Schneemann has given me an opportunity to not only impact neighborhoods close to mine, but to also gain valuable communication, analytical, and planning skills along the way. It has also narrowed my thoughts on what I want to do as a profession – renewable consulting.
Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is a part of University of Illinois Extension and Purdue University Extension.
IISG is excited to welcome four student interns this summer to help our specialists with everything from needs assessments, to outreach, to strategy facilitating, to economic valuations—and more. These four will spend 12 weeks working closely with a Sea Grant specialist on the issues affecting the Great Lakes.
Green Infrastructure Workforce Intern
Located at Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning
Jordan is a senior at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin majoring in geospacial science with a minor in geographic information systems.
He will be conducting a needs assessment and market analysis to ensure that training and workforce development efforts are in line with the Calumet region’s occupational and employment needs, leveraging the relationship gap between stakeholders and the community, and making sure all aspects (skill gaps, design standards, municipal regulations and the regional environment policies) are being looked at when achieving a Green Infrastructure program
Community Sustainability Intern
Located at Purdue University
Abigail graduated in May from the University of Illinois in natural resources and environmental sciences. She will be pursuing a Master’s degree in August 2016 in agriculture education at the University of Illinois.
During her summer internship, Abigail will collaboratively develop new extension education and training materials (case studies, fact sheets, excerpts of guide books) related to public spaces, rain gardens, and watershed management topics. She will also be help campus specialists deliver extension and training programs to communities across Indiana.
Abigail has hit the ground running in the two weeks since her internship began. She has attended the inaugural train the trainer program for the Enhancing the Value of Public Spaces program, supported the first meeting and launch of the advisory board and program development effort for the new Natural Resources Leadership Program, attended strategic planning meetings for IISG in Chicago, and helped to host a community meeting to start the Enhancing the Value of Public Spaces program in Columbus, Indiana.
Science Writer and Nutrient Strategy Facilitator Intern
Anjanette Riley, Eliana Brown, and Lisa Merrifield
Located at University of Illinois
Ashley comes to us from the agricultural communications program at Illinois State University, where she is about to start her senior year.
This summer, Ashley will wear two hats: a science writer and nutrient strategy facilitator. For her part in the communications team, Ashley oversees the Illinois Water blog, writing news and feature articles on IWRC research projects and important water issues facing the state.
She will also work closely with IWRC and IISG’s Eliana Brown to help facilitate Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy implementation and support Eliana’s other stormwater and water quality outreach efforts.
Water Pricing Intern
Located at Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning
Lauren is a recent graduate from Northern Michigan University with a major in environmental science, a concentration in natural resources and a minor in sustainability.
She will be working on the Ecosystem Services Project helping with organizing tables of articles and writing the literature reviews on their economic valuations.
Lauren will also be on the water rates database where she will be working with water rates and pricing ordinances.
Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is a part of University of Illinois Extension.