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Students Gain Professional Experience While Helping to Safeguard the Environment
June 19, 2012
Jose Morales is building his resume while helping San Joaquin Valley communities improve their sustainability efforts.

Morales is one of six CSU Stanislaus students serving as paid interns for the Green Communities program, which provides greenhouse gas emission inventories at no cost for participating local governments.

Following intense training, the interns — comprising undergraduate and graduate students along with recent graduates from Valley colleges and universities — collect and analyze data for each of the cities and counties involved in the program, all while gaining valuable work experience to help them navigate a challenging job market.

“I feel proud to represent the program for many reasons, and one of them is the change in how the local governments operate their resources,” Morales said. “I’m very happy to work with a unique and very professional staff who has taught me how to interact with local government employees. As result, I have become a professional myself.”

According to the Associated Press, 53.6 percent of bachelor’s degree-holders under the age of 25 last year were jobless or underemployed — the highest share in at least 11 years. With those kinds of odds facing today’s college students and recent graduates, an internship can provide students with the advantages of on-the-ground experience and related skills that employers are seeking.

In the Green Communities program, the interns gather a city or county’s emissions data and prepare a report outlining its baseline “carbon footprint” using technical support and software provided by ICLEI, an international association of local governments that have made a commitment to sustainable development.

Program momentum is growing, with nearly all data collected in the various regions. The interns are now qualifying and analyzing the data they have gathered in preparation for writing the reports. Upon completion of their final report, the interns earn a $4,000 stipend.

In addition to Morales, a graduate student, CSU Stanislaus undergraduates Gil Perez, Kathrina Schillaci and Veronica Benavides, graduate student Natasha Hanley and recent graduate Melissa Moebius are participating in the Green Communities program. Several other CSU Stanislaus students were involved in various early stages of the project, including Emily Cimino, Alexander Jongenelen and Jason Nascimento.

And Bryce Dias — a CSU Stanislaus graduate who recently completed his Master of Public Administration degree — now works for the Great Valley Center, overseeing the Green Communities program after serving as an intern himself from the initial grant round in spring 2011.

The program, administered by Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) in collaboration with the Great Valley Center in Modesto and funded by the California Public Utilities Commission, currently serves 14 governments in San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced and Kern counties. This year marks the second time the Green Communities program has been offered in the northern San Joaquin Valley — 10 projects were completed last year.

James Leonard
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