Hi there, my name is Lindsey Schneider and I’m spending my summer as a Cleveland Foundation intern hosted by Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District. To give a bit of background information on the Cleveland Foundation Summer Internship Program, it began back in 1999 as an opportunity to expose undergraduate students to the non-profit and public sector scene in Cleveland, OH, with hopes of inspiring students to stay in (or move back to) Cleveland after graduation. Cleveland non-profits and public sector agencies are invited to apply to be a host organization for the Summer Internship Program, and students from the Cleveland area apply to partake in the internship program. At the end, 20 different host sites and 20 unique students are selected for the program and matched to each other based on the organization’s needs and the student’s interests and skillsets.
Cuyahoga SWCD was looking for an intern to complete a GIS (Geographic Information Systems) project to support recent efforts of expanding the reach of their programming into underserved communities in Cuyahoga County. As it happens, I’m a GIS minor with both a passion and experience in helping non-profit organizations broaden their programming to better connect with diverse audiences, especially those that are so often devoid of resources. So, here I am at Cuyahoga SWCD! And it turns out we’re a pretty good match for each other.
I’m a Cleveland native, but have studied Geography and Spanish in DC for the past three years at George Washington University. Still, I always find my way back to Cleveland in the summers. Last summer, I interned with Western Reserve Land Conservancy as their GIS intern, where I created a large habitat layer to help the organization better understand what kinds of land (forest, wetland, shrubland, farmland, etc) they are protecting. Now, I am creating a “Greenprint for Public Involvement” for Cuyahoga SWCD, which involves locating areas across the 52 communities they serve that would be ideal for community outreach and education events- such as tree plantings, rain garden and pollinator garden workshops, and storm drain stenciling events. When my project is complete, the organization will have a guide for community involvement events, allowing them to reach wider, more diverse audiences by bringing their programming to new locations around Cuyahoga county.
In the past four weeks, I have truly enjoyed the opportunities I’ve had to shadow staff members at tree plantings for Heskett Middle School, rain barrel workshops in Middleburg Heights, stream cleanups in Brooklyn, and pollinator and rain garden installations across Cuyahoga County. I have also assisted in leading a stream monitoring fieldtrip with Rhodes Environmental School at Big Creek, where I helped groups of students test for dissolved oxygen levels and coliform bacteria in the waterway to measure stream health.
Additionally, twice a month the Cleveland Foundation intern cohort meets for a daylong “Civic Immersion and Professional Development” event which involves shadowing a handful of the host organizations that other interns are placed at. Here, we hear from the director and various staff members of each organization as they address how their organization works to solve, or soften, community issues that affect residents of the Cleveland area. These experiences, coupled with the community involvement events of CSWCD, have been incredibly rewarding and an invaluable part of my internship.
When my internship concludes in early August, I will be headed out to Lima, Peru to continue my studies for the fall semester at Pontifica Universidad Católica del Perú. So, if any of you readers have any travel tips for Peru, please share!
Blog author, Lindsey Schneider, Cleveland Foundation Intern