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Sustainability Ambassadors Blog 

Turning Concern Into Action – A Winter Internship with Sustainability Ambassadors

Originally Published on Integrate It! by Cascadia College

by ETSP student Clare Chapple 

During the pandemic, when time slowed down, I decided to continue my education to address my growing concern for the deteriorating health of our planet. I wanted to turn my concern into action. I enrolled in Cascadia College’s Environmental Technologies and Sustainable Practices program in the fall of 2020, and embraced my role as a “lifelong learner.” I took classes in Sustainability Practices, Energy Systems, Power Generation, Wetland Ecology, Wetland Conservation, Environmental Ethics, Project Management, and more. I was decades older than most of the students, but the integrated learning model at Cascadia ensured that I felt like part of a team working toward a common goal.

After the Fall Quarter of 2023, my coursework was completed for the Associate in Applied Science degree. I had learned so much and was ready to see how I could put that knowledge to work supporting another organization. With the help of my advisor, I was able to establish an internship opportunity at Sustainability Ambassadors – a local organization that supports middle and high school students by helping them develop personal climate impact projects and larger community campaigns that are aligned with their city’s climate action plans. Sustainability Ambassadors also creates lesson plans and learning opportunities for teachers to integrate current environmental issues (with a local perspective) into their existing curriculum.

This January, I was introduced to the team and was so impressed with their knowledge and enthusiasm! I was excited by how quickly they included me (and the other interns – one from WWU and one from UW Seattle) in the decision-making and daily actions that needed to happen to support the work.

On week one, I was sitting in a training with 20 teachers from around the Puget Sound Region. We were learning directly from a Water Demand Economic Analyst from Cascade Water Alliance about snowpack in the mountains and the effect that its dwindling presence would have on the region’s water supply. On this typically cold Saturday morning in January, the group of teachers spent three hours of their treasured free time learning how to weave these very timely issues into their curriculum.

The following week, I shadowed Jenna, the Communications Coordinator, while she conducted video interviews with two industry leaders, and I was later entrusted with the task of interviewing other professionals via Zoom about their pathways to their careers in order to build out our Green Jobs Youth Pathways video resources. Students and teachers access these videos via the Sustainability Ambassadors website to find inspiration about possible career paths. I interviewed architects and business analysts in organizations committed to sustainability. I learned how to edit these videos – adding title slides, transitions, and audio – thanks to Jenna for her guidance and clear direction while I learned this new skill! The biggest takeaway from these conversations with the green jobs professionals was to stay curious, follow your heart, and keep trying new things. The right path seems to unfold for all of us if we are clear about our goals and intentions.

In the weeks that followed, I attended meetings with student scholars who were developing inspiring impact projects – such as Kirkland’s Transit Group – these students are focused on increasing bus ridership through engagement and storytelling. Sustainability Ambassadors was able to connect this group of students with the Transportation Program Coordinator for the City of Kirkland, who is now a committed partner for their cause – offering them support and feedback and sharing their message with the broader community.

In the final weeks of the quarter, I’m helping to create a case study describing the success of UW Bothell/Cascadia College’s North Creek Wetland Restoration Project, which will be included in a larger lesson plan for middle and high school teachers in WRIA 8, which is an area that encompasses the Lake Washington/Cedar/Sammamish Watersheds. This area is a crucial migratory corridor for chinook, coho, sockeye, kokanee salmon, and steelhead trout. The wetland on our campus serves as a living laboratory for professors, students, and even government agencies who are looking for frameworks to emulate in other restoration projects. The Sustainability Ambassadors case study that we provide to teachers in the area will be a useful tool for them to share with their middle and high school students.

I feel honored to have been able to participate in the efforts of this small group of highly committed individuals turning their concern into action by supporting the youth in our region. The work they are doing is crucial to rapidly advancing a sustainable future!



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