Engagement in the Community

Students performing a waste audit
Engagement in the Community

Real work on real problems with real people

There are many opportunities around Lincoln for a student to get involved and pursue their passion. We work with community organizations towards a better future by advocating for the environment. Students in the Environmental Studies Program engage with the community in multiple courses.

ENVR 101: Orientation in Environmental Studies

In an effort to move students to action in our program, we have developed integrated learning opportunities that begin in year one!

This course has partnered with the Lincoln Public Schools Sustainability office since 2015 to actively engage new Environmental Studies students in making local change happen. Students have conducted waste audits for 31 elementary, middle and high schools, as well as the District office, providing data and analysis to the building administrators.

The result of this active research has been the implementation of new composting programs in K-12 schools. These same buildings are already participating in recycling programs and thus have a greatly reduced environmental impact with tons of waste now being diverted from the local landfill into the composting and recycling facilities in this area.

Similarly, our ENVR 101 students have worked in the Fall and Spring terms to develop Earth Day and Green Apple Day of Service projects in collaboration with LPS staff throughout the District. These projects have varied in scope, but have included the renovation of courtyards into outdoor learning spaces and gardens, the development of grade-appropriate sustainability-focused learning projects and curriculum, and hands on activities and special events.

Students in Recycle t-shirts completing a waste audit

Students in Recycle t-shirts completing a waste audit.

ENVR 495: Internship in Environmental Studies

Internships are part of the Environmental Studies curriculum, creating opportunities to learn more about the many employment options in the environment and sustainability field and allowing students to get involved in the community.

Kayla Vondracek (pictured):

“My first internship was with the Joslyn Institute for Sustainable Communities where I assisted with grant projects. My second internship was with the Lincoln and Lancaster County Health Department where I worked as an environmental health intern wand I worked with volunteers on litter pickups and household hazardous waste collection events. My current internship is with JEO Consulting Group where I work as a Hazard Mitigation and Emergency Planning intern assisting with data collection, GIS mapping, and writing for Hazard Mitigation Plans.

“I also did water quality research on the Niobrara River through UCARE and the Cabela’s Apprenticeship program, and was featured on Nebraska Today.”

Kayla Vondracek in the water

Kayla Vondracek