William & Mary

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 August 31st, 2015. 

1. VIMS Discovery Lab Assistant (2 positions) (year-long, with focus in Spring semester)

The student(s) 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 a “Climate Corner” at each of the January, February, and March labs, focusing on how climate change will impact the highlighted habitat or species.  In April, the EcoAmbassador will be the main contributor, planning and implementing a Discovery Lab on a topic of their choice related to the Bay, including a “Climate Corner”.  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 topic for April 2016 Discovery Lab.
  • Develop a “Climate Corner” for the Discovery Labs taking place in January-April.
  • Volunteer at the Discovery Labs in January-March.
  • Develop hands-on activities, demonstrations, and display information for Discovery Lab in April.
  • Assist with evaluation of the program.
2. W&M and VIMS Research Blog (1 Position) (year-long)

This EcoAmbassador project will focus on highlighting sustainability-related research and broader initiatives taking place at both the College of William and Mary (W&M) and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS).  The EcoAmbassador will work closely with a faculty member conducting monthly interviews with a range of faculty, graduate students, and staff to learn about their cutting edge research and how it relates to 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.  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 research.  Experience with web design / blogging, and ability to travel to VIMS preferred, but not required.

Project Goals:

  • Interview faculty, graduate students and staff to learn more about their research.
  • Develop and publish blog post once a month that will be featured on the W&M 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.
3. Cigarette Litter Study and Outreach (1 Position) (year-long)

Cigarette butts are the most littered item in America! Cigarette butts on the ground instantly turn a beautiful place like the William & Mary campus into a much less attractive area. Not only are cigarette butts unsightly, but they are very bad for water quality if they get washed down the storm drain and into our local wetlands and waterways.  And they stick around because cigarette butts are NOT biodegradable. Cigarette filters are made of a plastic material that lasts a long time. Cigarette butts can also be especially harmful when eaten by animals, birds or fish.

William & Mary has a Smoking Policy that requires building occupants to go outside to smoke.  This policy also requires that building occupants be 25 feet from the building when smoking.  Smoking outposts have been placed in specific locations around campus that meet the 25 foot from the building requirement.   These outposts are intended to serve as designated smoking areas and provide a receptacle for depositing cigarette butts.  Unfortunately, cigarette butts do not always make it into the smoking outpost receptacle but are instead dropped on the ground.

The purpose of the EcoAmbassador project is to define the extent of the cigarette butt litter issue on campus, make recommendations to reduce the litter and design a program/materials to inform faculty, staff, students and the general public about the environmental impact of cigarette butt litter.  The first semester objective would be to conduct a study to determine if the smoking outposts provided on campus are being used and maintained.  The student would also assess the amount of cigarette butt litter that ends up on the ground around campus and the locations where the greatest concentrations of litter are noted.  From these observations, the student will make recommendations for optimal placement of outposts.  During the second semester, the student would design an educational program/materials for our faculty, staff and students to inform them about the environmental impact of cigarette butt litter and the importance of individual responsibility for a clean and safe working environment.

Project Goals:

  • Conduct a study of smoking outposts on campus
  • Assess amount and location of ground cigarette butt litter 
  • Construct recommendations for optimal outpost placement
  • Design an educational program/materials for our faculty, staff and students about impacts of cigarette butt litter and the importance of individual responsibility 
4. 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
5. Native Plant Nursery (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 2014-2015 EcoAmbassador internship. The applicant should have an interest in plants, and preference for students with experience in the campus greenhouse, Botany Club, botany courses, a science background or other applicable experience.

Project goals:

  • Collect/maintain native plant seed and cuttings from campus for at least 10 woody or perennial plant species
  • Propagate plant material for eventual transplanting on campus per appropriate horticultural methods
  • Maintain plant material collections in the greenhouse and other campus locations as needed
  • 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  stem cuttings and seeds)
  • Update the Native Plant Nursery plant guide based on research and experience with this year’s efforts.
6. Outdoor Space Usage and Potentials for New Spaces around Swem Library (1 position) (Fall Semester)

This EcoAmbassador project will focus on observations of the William and Mary community’s usage of outdoor spaces surrounding the Earl Gregg Swem Library.  The EcoAmbassador will implement controlled space interventions by placing seating and tables at predetermined locations strategically placed throughout the outdoor areas surrounding Swem.  The EcoAmbassador will passively observe how the community reacts to and uses the space intervention. The observations will be used to make recommendations for permanent installations of outdoor study/social spaces.  The ecoambassador will also develop a survey which could be distributed to the campus community to gather information about outdoor space usage, desires for outdoor space and recommendations for campus wide implementations.

Project Goals:

  • Systematically observe and evaluate  community usage of existing outdoor spaces and space interventions
  • Develop recommendations for the installation of outdoor study & social spaces around Swem Library
  • Construct a survey to assess the perception of and need for outdoor spaces on the W&M Campus