Environmental policy internship takes senior to DC and back home again

Citizens’ Climate Lobby and Citizens’ Climate Education work in partnership to educate about climate change to lobby for policy changes.

Oglethorpe Trustee Ted Heintz, who volunteers with the California-based group, shared with Oglethorpe’s A_LAB the ways that students can get involved. As a result, senior Skyler Stlrling, an international studies major, pursued and landed an internship focused on educational agricultural science policy and advocacy. The experience culminated with a trip to DC to participate in the process first-hand.

Skyler Stirling ’19

“While in D.C. I got to talk to concerned citizens from all walks of life: climate scientists, environmental advocates, military veterans and average citizens concerned for their children’s future,” he said. “As an intern, I went through various communications trainings, leading to what CCL calls Congressional Ed Day, where we came together in groups and lobbied individual members of congress to support the introduction and passing of legislation implementing a nationwide Carbon Fee and Dividend plan.”

Stirling credits his Oglethorpe classes for preparing him for the internship.

“Getting to see the material used in so many politics courses…enacted in real life was an invaluable experience and really helped me appreciate the significance of liberal arts education in giving students a unique toolkit for comprehending not just the processes at work in the world, but the historical context of those processes,” he said.

“My experience with the Climate Lobby was educational, and it not only gave me the opportunity to travel all the way to DC to see the actual mechanics of our legislative process at work, but also allowed me to connect with very genuine, civic-minded people from across the United States that were willing to take time out of their lives to advocate for something they believed in,” he added.

His hard work paid off. “On top of everything it actually had an impact: legislation for the carbon fee and dividend is set for the house floor sometime next year.”

The experience proved worthwhile, providing Stirling with the tools he will need when he enters the workforce.

“This internship was an extremely valuable experience in terms of getting to see first-hand the work that goes into what I would like to do in the long-term, that is, helping to research and develop the kinds of international environmental policies that can help our communities survive the challenges facing us over the next century,” he said.

However, his biggest takeaway was that change starts locally and with the individual, he says.

“There are multiple levels on which we as individuals can engage with our political communities and affect meaningful change….The Atlanta City Council recently unanimously passed a measure to transition the entire metro area to 100% renewable energy by 2035, and another internship I’m doing is with the local Sierra Club chapter trying to advocate for this plan on the hyper-local level, including with the City of Brookhaven.”

“My point is, if you want to be involved in helping shape the future, it starts at home, too.”

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