Six students to receive Oak Foundation Environmental Internship awards

A foundation that addresses social and environmental needs around the world has awarded Bates College a $15,000 grant to support environmental internships.

Following an internal academic competition, six Bates students were chosen to receive Environmental Internship awards from the Oak Foundation of Geneva, Switzerland.

The recipients are sophomores Shlesma Chhetri of Kathmandu, Nepal; Leigh Michael of Andover, N.J.; and Patricia Noto of Barrington, R.I.; and juniors Anne Cravero of Hanover, N.H.; Ellen Gawarkiewicz of North Falmouth, Mass.; and Ursula Sandstrom of Seattle. Each will receive $2,500 and will undertake their internships this summer.

The internships “represent exceptional opportunities for Bates students to experience practical aspects of environmental issues,” said Tom Wenzel, Dana Professor of Chemistry at Bates. Chair of the college’s environmental studies program, he led the Oak selection committee.

“None of the students could have pursued these opportunities without the support of an Oak Internship Award. We are very grateful to the Oak Foundation for making this possible.”

Chhetri will return to Nepal to work with the Women’s Environmental Preservation Committee. The organization was founded in 1992 in response to growing concerns about environmental sustainability in Kathmandu Valley. The committee works to promote recycling and reuse of household waste, finding ways to use the growing volume of waste to generate gas that can be used as fuel.

Michael will assist the Sierra Club chapter in Oakland, Calif., with its Oakland Clean Parks program. She will meet with local leaders and create a public relations program to help launch the initiative in economically depressed neighborhoods.

Noto will join her home state’s Southside Community Land Trust, which has worked since 1981 to secure widespread access to land for the purpose of growing healthy food. She will assist the organization in providing an economically depressed inner-city community with land, education and other resources needed to grow food.

Cravero plans to travel to Sitka, Alaska, this summer to work with the Alaska Longline Fisherman’s Association to promote the sustainable harvest of seafood, specifically halibut, sablefish and rockfish. She will assist with marketing and research projects, and will take part in interpretative work at the Sitka Sound Science Center.

Gawarkiewicz will intern at the Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, a living laboratory at one of the Northeast’s most studied estuaries. She will create educational materials, assist with school field trips and other educational programs, and aid in the collection of wildlife monitoring data.

Sandstrom will work at the Cascade Chapter of the Sierra Club as an intern for the organization’s political committee, which interviews candidates for public office and endorses those it believes will be environmental leaders.

The Oak Foundation is an international philanthropy with satellite offices all over the world. It addresses issues of global social and environmental concern, particularly those that impact disadvantaged people in major ways.

Among the guiding principles that apply to all funded partnerships, projects must target root causes, demonstrate solutions that can be adopted by permanent providers or the government, mobilize financial commitment from a range of sources, promote collaboration among organizations and funders, and involve the target population in the planning and implementation of the project.

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