Using Lessons from an Internship to Preserve My Second Home

I have been going up to the Boundary Waters every summer since I was nine or ten years old. It started out as a week-long family vacation every year over the 4th of July, and later became a two-week long canoe trip every summer with YMCA Camp Menogyn. My family also has a cabin about two portages away from the BWCA, and during the summer we spend hours swimming, canoeing, and kayaking on the lake. Up north, it is peaceful. There are no noises of a city, and the night sky is so free from smog that you can stare up at it and see what must be millions of stars. There are no distractions of cell phones or computers, and books and card games are our forms of entertainment rather than movies and video games. Basically, it is a complete escape from the bustling and stress of our daily lives. The BWCA and its surrounding wilderness are a very active, important part of my life, and I feel the need to preserve them as much as possible so that future generations can enjoy these places as well.

So I decided to get involved. I took an environmental science class the fall of my senior year, and talked to my parents about little things we can do around the house to help the environment. I also decided to take on an internship at Climate Generation during the month of May, which is when all of the seniors at my high school go intern somewhere to get real-life work experience before college. Going into it, I didn’t really know what to expect. I had never worked with an environmental organization or a non-profit before, so it was all new to me. I spent much of my time making phone calls or sending emails to ask for donations for the upcoming Summer Institute for Climate Change Education (June 26-28), and contacting businesses to invite them to the Climate Communications for Business Leaders event. I also helped with youth outreach for a couple of YEA! MN events. To be honest, it was more of a desk job than I had expected. Nevertheless, I appreciated the opportunity to learn in-depth about the organization itself, to see how a non-profit runs, and how it partners with businesses and other organizations. I also had the chance to attend the National Adaptation Forum, table for Climate Generation, and talk to people from all over the U.S. about climate change solutions. It was really cool to be able to talk to so many different people about the ways that they’re getting involved.

Despite only having been here for a month, I feel like I’ve gained a lot. Everyone at Climate Generation has been so welcoming and friendly, and I’ve been able to get a little peek into what everyone here does in their positions. I’m very grateful that I was able to have this internship experience, and I feel better leaving this position knowing that I am more educated now and can intelligently help find solutions to climate change.

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