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EcoAmbassador Internship Program

EcoAmbassadors are students chosen by the Committee on Sustainability to communicate the message of sustainability to various departments and offices on campus.  EcoAmbassadors help to green office practices, educate the W&M community about sustainable practices, and create programs to carry out sustainability related projects at the College.

EcoAmbassadors may be eligible to receive one credit through the Environmental Science and Policy program for their participation. The internship will consist of approximately 5 hours spent per week creating and implementing a sustainability project in a department or office, in collaboration with a supervising staff or faculty member.  Class will be held monthly with the EcoAmbassador instructor Calandra Waters Lake, Director of Sustainability.  This is a great opportunity to work with different departments or offices on campus on environmental issues that are important to the College community.  If you have questions about the EcoAmbassador program or any of the projects, contact Calandra at waterslake@wm.edu. To apply for an EcoAmbassador project, please complete the application form.

The deadline for these applications is September 1st, 2014. 

For the Fall 2014 semester, the following EcoAmbassador projects are underway:

1. Planning Earth Week 2015 (2 Positions) (year-long)

The two EcoAmbassadors assigned to assist in the planning of the annual Earth Week celebration will have the opportunity to work closely with the Director of Sustainability, Calandra Waters Lake, and the COS Programs & Education Co-chair, Natalie Hurd, on one of the biggest sustainability-focused events taking place on campus this academic year.  The EcoAmbassadors for this project should be well organized, creative, and enthusiastic as their responsibilities will include campus outreach, working with college administrative offices and the Williamsburg community, and planning campus-wide events that include a broad variety of academic disciplines. 

 Project goals:

  • Organize planning meetings for Earth Week
  • Develop an academic theme related to sustainability to build the events around
  • Contact the Scheduling Office and confirming locations for events well in advance of the celebration
  • Assist with the logistical support for these events i.e. planning multimedia and electronics set-up, campus advertising
  • Contact other groups on campus and off about participating in the celebration
2. Facilities Management Recycling Data (1 Position) (year-long)

This student will work with Bob Avalle, Director of Operations and Maintenance in Facilities Management, to assimilate and organize existing waste diversion data and develop and emplace a simple waste diversion webpage on the Facilities Management Website.  Although computer skills would be a plus, this EcoAmbassador will receive assistance from IT on the project.

 Project goals:

  • Organize and manipulate diversion data into practical and functional format
  • Interpret data into a publicly accessible and understandable composition
  • Work with IT to create a user-friendly webpage featuring the waste diversion data
3. Electric Car Charging Station (1 Position) (Fall Semester)

The EcoAmbassador assigned to this project would work with Martha Case, associate professor in the Department of Biology, to research the feasibility of an electric car plug-in station on the College campus.  Some considerations would include the type of station, location, cost, and demand for such a feature.  Depending upon the findings this project may also result in a Green Fee proposal to take steps towards making this concept a reality. 

 Project goals:

  • Compare the W&M environment to other institutions with charging stations
  • Produce a comprehensive report on the factors of an electric car plug-in station
  • Work with Parking Services to help determine the logistics of such a station
  • If appropriate, submit a Green Fee proposal for the station
4. VIMS Sustainability Research Summary

This EcoAmbassador project will focus on highlighting sustainability-related research and broader initiatives taking place at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS).  The VIMS EcoAmbassador will work closely with Samuel Lake Ph.D., conducting bi-monthly interviews with a range of faculty, graduate students, and staff to learn about their cutting edge research and how it relates to marine sustainability.  Following each interview the student will develop a blog post featuring what they learned and how W&M students can find out more and get involved at VIMS.  The ideal EcoAmbassador for this project should be well organized, have strong writing and communication skills, a broad background in environmental science, and most importantly be enthusiastic about science and marine research.  Experience with web design / blogging, and ability to travel to VIMS preferred, but not required.

 Project Goals:

  • Interview VIMS faculty, graduate students and staff to learn more about their research.
  • Develop and publish blog posts twice a month that will be featured on the VIMS website and shared on social media.
  • Act as an ambassador between W&M and VIMS to increase student awareness of sustainability initiatives happening on both campuses.
  • Create a summary website where W&M students can find a list of current sustainability research being conducted at VIMS, and find out how to get involved.
5. Defining the Landscape of Green Careers (1 position) (year-long)

This student will be working with the Cohen Career Center’s Wendy Webb-Robers, Director of Programs and Services, and Don Snyder, Associate Director. The EcoAmbassador will explore and define the multiple facets of the green career industry through organization and occupational research via websites, LinkedIn, and interviews with professionals in the field. Information gathered will include occupational profiles (daily activities, skills, education); industry trends; and a list of industry contacts including William and Mary alumni and parents.  This student should be comfortable and confident with interviewing industry professionals via phone, Skype, and email/LinkedIn.  Strong verbal and written communication skills preferred with the ability to translate and synthesize information into reports and occupational profiles.  Initiative and resourcefulness are a must to act on leads for interviews with professionals and develop and manage the project.

 Project goals:

  • A comprehensive report detailing career paths in the green industry, which can be utilized by the career center staff in advising students.

  • A list of contacts in the green industry, which will be utilized for student informational interviews, career panel participants, individual speakers, and potential recruiting activities. 
  • The ability for the EcoAmbassador to be a resource on the topic of green careers for outreach purposes
6. Native Plant Nursery – Pilot Year  (1 position) (year-long)

The student selected for this project will work with Patricia White-Jackson, Biology Greenhouse Manager, and Beth Chambers, Herbarium Curator to continue work established in the 2013-2014 EcoAmbassador internship. The applicant should have an interest in plants, and preference for students with experience in the campus greenhouse, Botany Club, botany courses, or other applicable experience.


 Project goals:


  • Review the role and methods of native plant propagation in light of efforts for sustainable landscape conservation, and identify anticipated benefits (e.g., cost, ecosystem function, land use impacts, biodiversity enhancement; preservation of campus plant genetic stock)

  • Continue building good communication and working relationships among relevant campus offices and groups (staff, facilities, institutional organization; students, and faculty)

  • Using the 2014 EcoAmbassador final Native Plant Nursery plan, prepare a detailed schedule for collection of plant material (such as plant tissue grafts and seeds) 

  • Collect native plant seed and tissue from campus for at least 10 woody or perennial plant species

  • Maintain plant material collections in the greenhouse and other campus locations as needed

  • Propagate plant material for eventual transplanting on campus per appropriate horticultural methods

  • Update the Native Plant Nursery plant guide based on research and experience with this pilot year’s efforts. 
7. VIMS Discovery Lab Assistant (1 position) (year-long, with focus in Spring semester)

The student selected for this project will work with Sarah Nuss, Education Coordinator, and education staff for the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve at VIMS, to create informal education activities and demonstrations for the Discovery Lab program.  The Discovery Lab program is a monthly, family-friendly outreach event on the VIMS campus designed to allow families to learn about marine science together, with each month focusing on a specific marine science theme.  The EcoAmbassador will assist with the planning and creation of the January, February, and March labs, while also introducing a “climate corner” at each lab, focusing on how climate change will impact that particular habitat or species.  In April, the EcoAmbassador will be the main contributor, planning and implementing a Discovery Lab on the topic of climate change and the Bay.  The EcoAmbassador for this project should be well organized, creative, and enthusiastic about working with the public and environmental education.  This is a full year project, with planning taking place in the Fall semester, and more hands-on work in the Spring semester.  Ability to travel to VIMS preferred.

 Project Goals:

  • Work with Education staff to develop topics for 2015 Discovery Lab series.
  • Develop a “Climate Corner” for the Discovery Labs taking place in January-March. 
  • Volunteer at the Discovery Labs in January-March.
  • Develop hands-on activities, demonstrations, and display information on climate change for the April Lab.
  • Assist with evaluation of the program.