Five Rutgers students participated in the Green Teams summer internship program of the PSEG Institute of Sustainability Studies at Montclair State University. Among the five Rutgers students were two SEBS undergraduates, Denia Cai Shi, Department of Plant Biology, and Dustin Wang, Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics.
The ten-week interdisciplinary paid internship program hired 45 students drawn from 10 universities. Building on the success of last year’s inaugural Green Team initiative, teams of five students were placed with a sponsoring corporate or municipal partner to help these leading regional and global businesses and organizations to develop sustainable solutions to challenges ranging from achieving zero waste to improving energy efficiency.
Denia Cai Shi worked with Earth Friendly Products to improve safety and reduce costs of waste disposal while Dustin Wang worked with Princeton University and the Municipality of Princeton to develop waste management solutions.
“Green Teams is the most remarkably successful summer internship program I have witnessed in my entire professional career at Rutgers. We are very fortunate to be partnering in this program,” said Henry John-Alder, professor and chair of the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources.
In addition to training in sustainability science, systems thinking, use-inspired research, and social responsibility, the summer program—funded by the PSEG Foundation with contributions from Rutgers New Brunswick and the other participating higher education institutions—includes the ‘value-added’ components of team building, leadership training, professionalism, and community engagement, explained John-Alder.
Field trips included the ePrix where lucky Green Teams participants were endorsed by Richard Branson, and a trip to the United Nations for a conference on the Higher Education Sustainability Initiative, where delegates expressed awe at the success of the Green Teams program, said John-Alder.
The final presentations were attended by Catherine Starghill, deputy commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, and Michele Siekerka, formerly of NJ DEP and currently president of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association.
“All of the students were impressive, poised, professional, and on point,” said John-Alder. He also noted that this year’s students may be eligible to return as Green Team peer teaching assistants next summer.
In addition to the funding Rutgers provided, Jill Lipoti, assistant teaching professor at the Department of Human Ecology, served on the selection committee to screen applicants and recommend students for acceptance.