Sustainability Internships

The Office of Sustainability partners with the Student Sustainability Council and sustainability-focused offices from across the campus to provide exciting and meaningful undergraduate internship opportunities for UK students.

Meet the 2022-2023 Sustainability Interns!

These undergraduate internships are paid $11/hour ($12/hour for returning interns) for 8-10 hours per week. The internships start in mid-August and follow the academic calendar through the end of the spring semester in early May. Interns will work with a mentor on supporting a specific sustainability unit on campus, develop an independent project, and participate in a professional development series with the full cohort of interns. You may apply for multiple positions but must submit a separate application for each. For questions, please email

Applicants must be University of Kentucky undergraduate students enrolled in at least one class for the fall semester and have a graduation date no sooner than May 2024. 


The application period for the 2023-2024 Sustainability Internship Program is now closed.

A list of the internship positions for this year is below. 

2023-2024 Positions 

1. Office of Sustainability: Communications and Programmatic Support (2 positions)

2. Healthcare: Sustainability Initiatives 

3. Center for Applied Energy Research: Communications and Story Telling

4. Purchasing: Sustainable Purchasing Policies

5. KY Climate Consortium

6. Recycling: Programmatic Support (2 positions)

7. Urban Forest Initiative Working Group

8. Built Environment Working Group

9. Energy (Lab Environments)



2023-2024 Position Descriptions 


1. Office of Sustainability: These two interns will work with the Office of Sustainability on communications and program development. Experience with graphic design and social media content creation is preferred. 

Major responsibilities:

  • Assist with the development and implementation of campus sustainability programs. Some examples include the fall Sustainability Showcase, WholeSum, and others. 
  • Assist the Office with communication efforts through graphic design, social media, website updates, and WholeSum blog posts.


2. Healthcare Sustainability Initiatives: This intern will work with UK Healthcare's operations Team on healthcare-related sustainability initiatives. This intern will assist with the development, implementation, and coordination of various projects.


3. Center for Applied Research - Communications and Storytelling: The Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER) does energy research that connects industry, academia, and business. This intern will assist the communications team to help tell the CAER story, particularly the story of their graduate students. There will be necessary travel to the CAER campus on a weekly basis, but most of the work can be done remotely. We want to work with you to give you practical, applied experience in science storytelling while assisting us in:

Major responsibilities:

  • Create social media content that is people and story-driven. Must be very familiar with Instagram as approved postings will happen daily. Content will be provided in most cases.
  • Research Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn for potential partnership stories, trends, and conversations CAER could be part of. Perform interviews with students about their research and time at CAER. Film and edit these as part of our Power Your Generation series:
  • Write one full-feature story per semester highlighting an aspect of CAER research
  • Stretch tasks: record simple B-roll (video clips) and stock photos, creating video interviews from filming to editing; work with the Communications Officer to create graphics for Instagram Stories, event planning and attendance.
  • Required knowledge: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Microsoft Word, MS Teams
  • Bonus knowledge: Photoshop or simple graphics editor; Illustrator or simple vector program


4. Purchasing - Sustainability Purchasing Protocols: This intern will assist the Purchasing team with the development of sustainable purchasing policies for the University. 

Major responsibilities:

  • Gain experience working with policies and processes for prioritizing sustainability metrics in an e-procurement system
  • Assist in expanding supply-chain diversity to increase BIPOC vendors and businesses
  • Research sustainable purchasing policies, protocols, and best practices
  • Develop guidelines and recommendations for UK's procurement policies 


5. KY Climate Consortium: This intern will assist the Kentucky Climate Consortium (KYCC) with their efforts on providing Kentuckians access to reliable, accessible, and relevant information about the climate. Ideal candidates will have experience with or interest in learning how to communicate about scientific topics, write website copy, use a website content management system, and manage event logistics.

Major responsibilities:

  • Support grant-funded research, including human-subjects research on climate policy and communication
  • Contribute to climate-related teaching materials for college classes 
  • Contribute to the monthly KYCC newsletter
  • Support planning and logistics for the Fall and Spring meetings of the full KYCC membership 


6. Recycling - Programmatic Support: These two interns will assist the University Recycling staff with a wide variety of waste diversion initiatives including recycling, reuse, and organic waste collection through programmatic support.

Major responsibilities:

  • Work to continue previous intern programs and initiatives such as the Residence Hall Food Waste Program and the EcoReps program.
  • Assist with department outreach and educational efforts such as tabling, America Recycles Day celebration, Campus Race to Zero Waste, and other outreach efforts.
  • Assist in ongoing project and programs such as auditing buildings for recycling needs and locations and research other waste stream opportunities.


7. Urban Forest Initiative Working Group: The Urban Forest Initiative (UFI) connects people to the urban forests of UK campus, Lexington, and the Commonwealth of Kentucky through community outreach, training, and tree mapping.

Major responsibilities:

  • Assist with outreach, education, and community engagement projects at in-person events and across a variety of media including (but not limited to): video and graphic creation, social media, tree facts sheet, etc.
  • Work in partnership with the UFI core team and working group members from around the state to elevate the visibility and health of the urban forest in our communities 


8. Built Environment Working Group: The Built Environment Working Group at the Tracy Farmer Institute for Sustainability & the Environment (TFISE) is multidisciplinary group with collaborators from various departments such as the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, the College of Design, and the College of Engineering. The mission of the working group is to enhance experiential leaning by utilizing campus as a place to test ideas and apply ideas focused on biological sustainability, healthy communities, and beautiful places to develop long-term partnerships. This intern must be comfortable with generating maps and graphic communication material. The goals of this internship are: applied learning; research driven community engagement projects; and model and evaluate built environments to inform future learning.

Major responsibilities:

  • Participate in the Built Environment's planning sessions
  • Assist with the development, organization, and documentation of new design projects and competitions 
  • Assist with research and data collection
  • Assist with survey data, transcribe interviews and written reflections


9. Energy (Lab Environments): This intern will work with Utilities and Energy Management on establishing the UK User-Led Environmental Lab Excellence (UKULELE) Program in support of the Sustainability Strategic Plan 2.0. This group is intended to provide resources and guidance specific to the laboratory environments with a focus on (1) minimizing the environmental impacts of lab operations, (2) ensuring safe, healthful, clean and accessible lab environments, and (3) enhancing effective conditions for excellence in teaching and research.

Major responsibilities:

  • Coordinate engagement with stakeholders such as researchers, lab personnel, students, administration, and support staff to establish working group as outlined in UKULELE charter.
  • Organize communication strategy in support of UKULELE, such as development of a website with training, best practices, and other resources to enable lab environments to pursue Environmental Excellence.



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