SPRINGFIELD—The Illinois EPA and Director Lisa Bonnett received recognition for the Agency’s continued participation in the Graduate Public Service Internship (GPSI) Program with the University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS) – formerly Sangamon State University (SSU). As part of the Illinois EPA’s Earth Day celebration, the Agency is highlighting three internship programs the Agency participates in each year, the GPSI, the Governor’s Environmental Corp, and the Pollution Prevention & Energy Efficiency Internship Programs.
“Illinois EPA is a proud partner of educational programs that provide students with a ‘hands-on’ learning opportunity though Agency mentoring and real-world business experience,” said Director Bonnett. “Continuation of these programs goes hand-in-hand with Governor Quinn’s commitment to education, as evident in his five-year plan proposed last month, which will double the investment of college scholarships for students in need. Students often go on to environmental careers where they can use the knowledge and experience they have gained through these internships.”
At the Annual Intern Recognition Breakfast held on April 16 at UIS, Rance Carpenter, Director of the UIS Graduate Public Service Internship (GPSI) program presented the Illinois EPA with a plaque and stated, “I am thrilled to present this plaque to honor and commemorate the 40 year partnership between SSU/UIS and the Illinois EPA. The GPSI staff members extend out thanks and gratitude to the Illinois EPA for providing the opportunity for hundreds of SSU and UIS graduate students to experience Leadership lived.”
The GPSI Program is a partnership between the University of Illinois at Springfield and state and local government agencies, where highly qualified graduate level students work within the agencies while earning a graduate degree from the University. Illinois EPA has had the longest partnership among agencies, participating since the program’s inception.
Over the 40 years of the program, the Illinois EPA has provided the opportunity for hundreds of graduate students to work side-by-side with Agency employees to experience public service first hand. Currently, 32 GPSI students are working at the Illinois EPA. In addition to the GPSI program, the Agency will welcome approximately 36 college and university students as part of the Governor’s Environmental Corp and Pollution Prevention & Energy Efficiency Internship Programs this summer.
The Governor’s Environmental Corp (GEC), first established in 1991, will begin its 23rd year in June. This program offers a unique public-private partnership between state government and Illinois corporations, whose sponsorship contributions pay the salaries and expenses of the participating students. The nine-week GEC program will run from June 2 – August 1, 2014 and will include approximately 20 student positions statewide. Students are paired with Agency mentors in their area of environmental interest and will work in Illinois EPA’s Springfield and regional offices.
Students in the GEC Program are full-time college undergraduate or graduate students pursuing degrees in fields such as engineering, geology, chemistry, biology, communications and law. GEC interns also participate in field trips and workshops at sponsoring company facilities, designed to provide first-hand knowledge of environmental challenges and solutions, as well as career opportunities in environmental fields.
The Illinois Pollution Prevention (P2) Internship Program, which began in 1989, has grown through the years and will include fourteen upper-level university students in its 25th year. Contrasting the GPSI and GEC Programs, P2 Interns are placed at manufacturing, local government and other facilities throughout the state. The goal of the program is to help facilities find cost-effective approaches for reducing environmental impacts, while providing students with a practical work experience. Facilities use college engineering interns specially trained by the Agency to address waste reduction, process improvement, recycling and energy efficiency. The 12-week program will begin on May 19 with a week-long training class at the Illinois EPA headquarters. Students will report to their host facilities on May 27 for the remaining 11 weeks.
One-half of the 2014 P2 Intern class will focus on assisting facilities with their goal of creating zero waste. Student salaries are paid in part by the Agency and through cost-sharing arrangements with participating facilities. Students for the 2014 program were recruited from several Illinois universities. Facilities participating in the 2014 program are: Eaton Cooper B-Line, Troy; Komatsu, Peoria; Mueller Company, Decatur; Aisin Manufacturing, Marion; Carlisle SynTec, Greenville; Ahlstrom Engine Filtration, Taylorville; Case New Holland, Goodfield; Pinnacle Foods, St. Elmo; Mexichem, Henry; University of Illinois, Champaign; Prairie State College, Chicago Heights; Moraine Valley Community College, Palos Hills; IL Green Economy Network/College of Lake County, Grayslake; and Illinois National Guard, Springfield.