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 2023. 


The application period for the 2023-2024 Sustainability Internship Program will open in early spring 2023

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

2022-2023 Positions 

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

2. Campus Recreation and Wellness: Nature Rx Program

3. Dining: Food and Dining Sustainability Initiatives

4. Healthcare: Sustainability Initiatives 

5. Purchasing: Sustainable Purchasing Policies

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

7. KY Climate Consortium Working Group

8. Recycling: Programmatic Support (2 positions)

9. Transportation: Wildcat Wheels

10. Urban Forest Initiative Working Group

11. Built Environment Working Group

12. Energy: Efficiency, Renewables, and Conservation 

13. Arboriculture: Campus Tree Management



2022-2023 Position Descriptions 


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

Major responsibilities

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


2. Campus Recreation and Wellness: Student Wellness is looking for an intern to develop their Nature Rx initiative at UK. Ideal candidates will have a passion for nature, mindfulness, meditation, and marketing background. 

Major responsibilities

  • Coordinate and plan Nature Rx campus wide initiatives, including but not limited to Walk with a Doc
  • Research and explore other Nature Rx campus initiatives 
  • Gather UK related programs that could be used for consideration in the Nature Rx program
  • Participate in mindfulness related programs to further understand mindfulness and meditation
  • Create a marketing proposal for a branded UK Nature Rx program conducive to UK brand standards
  • Create promotional materials to encourage participation in UK's Nature Rx
  • Establish a team to ensure collaboration and support for Nature Rx  
  • Coordinate regular meetings for Nature Rx campus partners 
  • Attend trainings and programs related to the Nature Rx initiatives as deemed appropriate 


3. Dining: This intern will assist Aramark's Sustainability Director with food and dining sustainability initiatives.

Key skills/attributes a successful intern will have: 

  • Personable, mindful, and creative
  • Love of food, people, and planet 
  • Strong desire for positive change 
  • Strong proficiency in Excel
Major responsibilities
  • Provide feedback in a helpful and constructive manner with the overall goal of helping to promulgate UK Dining sustainability efforts throughout campus
  • Processing large amounts of data in Excel
  • Participate in sustainability initiative planning sessions
  • Assist in efforts related to local food procurement and food insecurity initiatives
  • Assist with ongoing efforts such as outreach, composting, and waste reduction


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


5. 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 


6. Center for Applied Energy Research - Communications and Story Telling:  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. 

Major responsibilities: 

  • Create social media content that is people and story-driven. Must be very familiar with Instagram and Facebook as approve posting will happen at least 2-3 times per week on each platform. 
  • Research Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, for potential partnership stories, trends, and conversations CAER could be part of
  • Write stories highlighting an aspect of CAER research.
  • Stretch tasks: record simple B-Roll (video clips) and stock photos, work with the Communications Officer to create graphics for Instagram Stories, potentially event planning.
  •  Required knowledge: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Linked In; Microsoft Word; MS Teams 
  • Bonus knowledge: Photoshop or simple graphics editor; Illustrator or simple vector program


7. KY Climate Consortium Working Group: This intern will assist the Kentucky Climate Consortium (KYCC) Working Group 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

  • Research and explore other statewide climate research initiatives
  • Read and watch materials on climate science and climate change to further understand underlying scientific, social, and economic issues
  • 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 


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

Major responsibilities

  • Work to continue previous intern programs and initiatives such as the Waste Reduction Week and the Eco-Reps program
  • Assist with department outreach and educational efforts such as tabling, National Recycling 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 on other waste stream opportunities 


9. Transportation: This intern will assist the Alternative Transportation Manager with multi-modal transportation efforts. 

Major responsibilities:

  • Provide programmatic support for alternative transportation programs (including but not limited to biking, walking, e-scooters, ride sharing, bus, etc.)
  • Assist with developing partnerships, outreach materials, and educational tools around multi-modal transportation initiatives


10. 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 
  • Work in partnership with the UFI core team and working group members from around the state to elevate the visibility of and health of the urban forest in our communities 


11. 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


12. Energy: This intern will assist the University Utilities and Energy Management group in their mission to provide safe, reliable, and resilient utilities and energy services to the campus with a commitment to sustainability and customer service. This position welcomes students from any major. 

Major responsibilities:

  • Contribute to supporting the UK Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Plan, energy efficiency practices, renewable energy opportunities, and conservation strategies
  • More specific responsibilities will be determined in partnership with UEM's Engineering Manager and will be developed to complement the skills and interest of the selected student


13. Arboriculture: This position is perfect for students who are interested in trees and urban forest management. Get direct experience learning about the care and management of UK's tree canopy.

Major responsibilities:

  • Work with the campus Arborist Team on maintaining UK's tree canopy
  • Learn skills such as pruning, tree climbing, wood chipping, chainsaw maintenance and safety, and stump grinding
  • Assist with tree plantings and removals
  • Work in the campus tree nursery 
  • Assist with the development of campus tree policies and programs 


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