Making the Grade

Clean Wisconsin's summer interns 2019
, By Jon Drewsen

Summer interns contribute in big ways

Summer for many staff at the Clean Wisconsin office in Madison means lunch outdoors on our patio, biking to work, and a fair amount of sandal wearing. It also is the time of year when we welcome a number of undergraduate and graduate students who join the ranks as interns. This summer, we have had the pleasure of hosting seven interns to assist our legal, science, policy, development and communications staff.

These internships benefit both the students and the staff. In our legal department, for instance, law students Matthew Hansen and Brandon Hunzicker have been assisting our legal team members with case law research and drafting legal documents for court filings. In return, the interns get a front row seat into workings of the legal system and gain experience applying the skills they learn in the classroom.

“This internship has afforded me the opportunity to witness what environmental litigation looks like firsthand and has broadened my understanding of how environmental groups use legal avenues to tackle meaningful issues,” said Hansen.

Other interns are assisting our science and policy staff with projects to help shed light on water and air issues. This summer, interns Hannah Zwiefel and Tyler Byrnes are working on projects that look at the risks and economic impacts of water pollution around the state. These projects are often time intensive and require hours combing through data or plotting coordinates in a mapping program. But the end results can have important and enlightening findings.

“Our summer interns complete some extraordinary work that really augments the work of our staff,” said Mark Redsten, Clean Wisconsin’s President & CEO. “These interns are critical for helping our staff tackle large projects and delve into topics that shape how we approach an issue. Our interns are an important part of our team, and we enjoy having them contribute in big ways during the summer months,” said Redsten.

Many of our summer interns are students in fields related to environmental science or policy, and an internship at Clean Wisconsin helps to give students a chance to see what working in the field is like. “I hope to work in climate change planning and policy, and my research this summer has deepened my interest in this field,” said Naomi Albert, our Science Policy and Research Fellow, who has spent the summer looking into energy storage technology. “I am excited to apply the experience I have gained through this fellowship to future work in urban planning.”

Many times, summer interns are the leaders of the next generation of environmental scientists, lawyers, policy makers, and communicators who will have a lasting impact on how we manage our resources in the future. Spending the summer as a Clean Wisconsin intern gives these students a firsthand view of the water, air and energy issues facing Wisconsin residents and ways that environmental leaders are working to address them. This eye opening experience is invaluable in cultivating students to pursue careers in environmental protection. “My internship has narrowed down the environmental issues I want to focus on for a career,” said Cheyanne Foster, who is interning with our Development team this summer. Gabe Garlough-Shah, our Communications Intern, has said that his internship has allowed him “to understand how we can better mass-communicate serious information to those who need it most.”

Interns help to make Clean Wisconsin an effective leader in environmental work in the Capitol and courts, and they provide an invaluable learning experience. Their importance, however, is often overlooked. Many times, these positions are funded with limited resources, and many of our internships are unpaid. Recruiting future interns and cultivating the next environmental leaders depends on funding, and a large share of it comes from individual donors.

If you are interested in helping to financially support Clean Wisconsin’s summer internship program, please contact Ryan Kelly at (608) 251-7020 x19 or