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Student Internships

The 2017-2018 internship positions have all been filled. We will post a call for applications for the 2018-2019 program in February. 

The Office of Sustainability partners with the Student Sustainability Council and the Tracy Farmer Institute for Sustainability and the Environment (TFISE) to provide exciting and meaningful undergraduate internship opportunities. 

Each internship is tied to an existing sustainability-related program at the University (host program), including operational units such Recycling and faculty working groups like the Urban Forest Initiative. All internships are paid and interns are expected to work 8-10 hours per week. Approximately half of the hours will be spent supporting the work of the host program and the other half will be focused on developing an independent student-led project.

2017-2018 Internship Position Descriptions

Energy - Efficiency and Conservation: This intern will assist the University Energy Engineer with the implementation of energy efficiency and conservation projects and will also have the opportunity to assist with data collection and analysis. Working in partnership with the University Energy Engineer, Sustainability Coordinator and other stakeholders, this intern will develop an independent project focused on improving efficiency and conservation relative to campus energy use.

Food and Dining - UK Food Connection: The Food Connection outreach intern will spearhead our First Friday Breakfast series, a monthly community event that features a local, sustainable breakfast and community oriented discussion of key topics for our local agro-food system. The intern will oversee the production of marketing and promotion materials, event registration, and volunteer coordination. The intern will also collaborate on the production of short educational videos for each month’s topic in coordination with the guest speakers and the Agricultural Communications department. Working with the staff and partners of The Food Connection the intern will develop an independent project related to community engagement or education related to the farm to campus food system at The University of Kentucky. 

Food and Dining - UK Dining Services: This intern will assist the Sustainability Manager for UK Dining Services with the implementation of various sustainability initiatives across all areas of dining services. Working in partnership with the Sustainability Manager, other UK Dining staff, and University stakeholders, this intern will develop an independent project focused on improving the sustainability of campus dining operations. 

Waste Reduction - Recycling and Composting: This intern will assist the University Recycling Coordinator with a wide variety of waste reduction initiatives including recycling, reuse and composting. This intern will also have the opportunity to develop outreach efforts including social media accounts, website updates, tabling and print media. Working in partnership with the University Recycling Coordinator, Sustainability Coordinator and other stakeholders, this intern will develop an independent project focused on improving waste reduction on campus.

Waste Reduction - Surplus and Reuse: This intern will assist the Surplus Property Department by performing day to day tasks through disposition of items, develop outreach programs through our website and social media, as well as develop initiatives in process improvement.  Working in partnership with the University Surplus Property Manager and other stakeholders, this intern will develop an independent project focused on improving increasing waste diversion through improved disposition tactics.

Promotions and Outreach, Office of Sustainability: This intern will work directly with the University Sustainability Coordinator on promotions and outreach. This will include related listservs, social media sites, website content and more. This intern will also develop an independent project focused on improving sustainability-related promotions and outreach on campus.

​Urban Forest Initiative: The Urban Forest Initiative (UFI) is committed to connecting people to the urban forests of UK campus, Lexington and the Bluegrass Region through social media, community outreach, research and education. The intern will assist with development and implementation of urban tree outreach and education projects through social media, website updates, and representing UFI at events such as Arbor Day and Reforest the Bluegrass. Working in partnership with UFI leaders and other working group members within the Lexington community, the intern will develop an independent project aimed at elevating the visibility and quality of the urban forest in our community. Visit the UFI Working Group website for more details.

Water Systems Working Group:  This multidisciplinary group of faculty is dedicated to advancing water-related research, education, and outreach on our campus and throughout the region. The intern will assist with development, advertising, and implementation of Water Week activities on campus in Fall 2017, as well as potentially contribute to the continued development of the CATchment, a water-oriented outdoor laboratory and classroom on campus, through an independent project. Visit the Water Systems Working Group website for more details. 

2016-2017 Interns and Projects

Sarah Cooley - Built Environment Working Group

 Class: Junior

 Hometown: Louisville, KY

 Major: Architecture

 I am working with Doug Appler, a professor in historic preservation working to emphasize the connection between historic preservation, archeology, affordable  housing, and economic development.  

 We will be doing research and creating tools to use for analysis of Rail Trails. The research will pertain to abandoned railways and the demographics surrounding  them. The analysis will look at the relation between rail trails, their effect on the community, and how new rail trails could benefit communities. 




Lauren Thomas - Promotions and Outreach

 Class: Junior

 Hometown: Nashville, TN

 Majors: Communications & Environmental & Sustainability Studies

 I work with Shane Tedder in the Office of Sustainability working to improve the Outreach capabilities for the Office. This includes crafting strategies for social media, Sustainability eNews, and different types of programing and campaign management. 

My pet project is developing an engagement program for first year students to get them plugged in with Sustainability initiatives during their first months on campus.


Henrique Menezes Correa -  Energy-Efficiency and Conservation

 Class: Junior

 Hometown: Londrina, Brazil

 Major: Mechanical Engineering

 As an intern for UK's energy engineer, Britney Thompson, I have been doing research on possible cost-effective energy efficiency and  conservation applications for our campus besides helping her with other ongoing projects. I have been specifically looking into the field of thermal control of  buildings, so that we may reduce the consumption of AC units throughout the year.


Rachel Cook - Urban Forest Initiative

 Class: Sophomore

 Hometown: Perryville, KY

 Majors: Environmental & Sustainability Studies and Natural Resources and Environmental Science

I work with Nic Williamson, a co-founder of the Urban Forest Initiative. I help with the UFI website, posting the Adopt-a-tree stories and working to write stories about UK's tree canopy. I'm working with Nic on expanding UFI's outreach here on campus through these stories and with events like Mulch Madness.






2015-2016 Interns and Projects

Michaela Rogers - Waste Reduction

I work with Mari Long in the UK Recycling department on campus projects  to encourage students to be mindful of their waste disposal decisions.

This includes creating educational pieces, encouraging proper recycling and looking to improve campus sustainability through waste diversion.

I recently attended the AASHE conference alongside my mentor, and  was able to network with other students to  gather more ideas to accomplish these goals.



Final Report

Project Poster


Amanda Williams - Urban Forests

I support the work of Nic Williamson, a Forestry graduate student and co-founder of UFI. During this internship, I have done a lot with social media. I’ve created a Twitter account for the Urban Forest Initiative and have been posting Adopt-A-Tree narratives and urban forest related stories on our Facebook page. A large part of UFI involves out reach. In addition, I also planned and organized “Mulch Madness,” a service project which took place around William T. Young Library, to help UK maintain Tree Campus USA status. I’ve tabled for UFI several events in the community and have been trying to implement our Adopt-A-Tree program in more classrooms and schools.

Final Report

Project Poster


Venecia Proctor - Alternative Transportation


My work under Shane Tedder consists of updating the bike-related inventory and maps on UK’s campus. The shared-pathways map has been updated and new locations were also added. An inventory of the style, capacity, and location of bike racks around campus has been started and is still in process. I am involved in research on different ways to make UK a more bike-friendly campus in hopes to raise bike usage around campus. 

Final Report

Project Poster




Garrett Pieratt - Storm WateDatabase


Doug Curl, Section Head of Geoscience Information Management, has worked with me to build a database containing all of the storm water date collected by various professors on UK’s campus. One specific area of interest is the recently builtrain garden on Farm Road. The data collected from these locations will be used for professors’ own personal research and used as educational tools for students. 



Project Poster


 Zach Tyler - Energy Efficiency and Conservation

My work with Britney Thompson, an energy engineer for UK, has been to evaluate the reduction of unnecessary energy expenditures on campus lighting through the installation of occupancy sensors. Many bathrooms and hallways remain lit even during nights and weekends, when nobody is present. I have been collecting and analyzing data to identify target areas that will result in the largest energy savings and quickest payback periods. This data, once compiled and presented, should justify and result in the installation of these energy-saving sensors. 


Final Report

Project Poster


  Elise McConnell - Food Systems

I work along side anthropology professor Sarah Lyon to prepare for the UK Food Summit, occurring in the spring of 2016. The summit will host food sustainability experts from other universities as well as a multidisciplinary group of UK faculty to develop a plan of action for promoting food sustainability at the University of Kentucky.  Additionally, I am compiling a list of current UK courses related to sustainable food, and I plan to help with social media to raise awareness about related activities occurring on campus. These steps will make food sustainability work more accessible to the UK community. Besides these activities, I will help Sarah Lyon with her research on fair trade coffee systems in Latin America.

Final Report

Project Poster

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