Three University students join environmental fight thru internship
Three Delaware State University natural resources/environmental science majors have been injected into a controversial environmental issue through their spring semester internship experiences with the Alaska Wilderness League (AWL).
Jelani Bryant, Kayla McKinley and Lauren Smith are gaining valuable experience in environmental advocacy as they are contributing their voices to the AWL’s opposition to the controversial Willow Project – a massive oil-drilling project in Alaska planned by ConocoPhillips, a Houston-based energy company. Environmentalists argue that the project will negatively impact Alaskan wildlife and contribute to climate change.
The trio of Delaware State University students – who have received environmental advocacy training as part of their AWL internship – have brought themselves up to speed on the issue and have written letters to the editor to DelawareOnline (the News Journal) and other media organizations to raise awareness on the issue.
The trio’s advocacy also involved a meeting with Delaware Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester to make a case against the Willow Project.
All three environmental science majors agree that they have benefited greatly from the AWL internship.
Mr. Bryant, a senior from Middletown, Del., who plans to go to law school and become an environmental attorney, said the experience has provided “gainful insight” into his future career.
“I am connecting how environmental policy and environmental activist groups work hand in hand to get things done for people and for our lands,” Mr. Bryant said. “I am getting a lot of insight in how the political process is very involved in getting things done.”
Kayla McKinley, a senior from Odenton, Md., aspires to work in water quality/natural resources management. “This experience for me has been good, as it has given me different insights in different fields,” she said. “That is the point of an internship, to get to dabble in all these different type of fields and learn which ones would be the best for me.”
Lauren Smith, a junior from Aurora, Colo., is looking forward to a career as a sustainability consultant. “This internship gave me the opportunity to see where politics plays into it, and how you can make sure that the politics is in line with what people want for their environment,” Ms. Smith said. “This was an opportunity to see how Alaska handles the politics and what the people want for their own land that they live on.”
Mr. Bryant said that while the Willow Project will impact Alaska wildlife and its people directly, such a controversial issue has ramifications for Delaware and the rest of the country.
“If it could happen there, then it could happen here,” Mr. Bryant said. “If we are not going to protect the rights of people and their lands, then what are we doing?”