Candid Moments: Snapshots from the Office of Sustainability Intern Program

Applications are now open for the Office of Sustainability’s internship program. If you’re intrigued by the experiences highlighted in this photo essay, consider applying for the Student Intern Program by February 13, 2024. All UW–Madison undergraduate students with at least one academic year left are eligible, regardless of major or background.

As the Office of Sustainability Student Intern Program gears up to hire undergraduates for the upcoming year, interns from the 2023-2024 cohort take a look back at memorable moments from their summer onboarding experience. 

To kick off their internship, the cohort embarked on a series of immersive trips across Madison to learn about local sustainability efforts. These experiences helped provide context for the work they support on campus while fostering professional skills and community engagement. 

Interns participate in a walking tour.

During a landscape architecture tour of UW–Madison, interns learned about unique and sustainable architectural features on campus. The tour, led by Aaron Williams of Campus Planning & Landscape Architecture, highlighted notable features, such as the solar panels on the Gordon Dining and Event Center, the rain garden outside of the Nicholas Recreation Center, and the captivating sculpture, “Effigy: Bird Form” by Truman Lowe, situated on the eastern edge of Observatory Hill.  


Interns admired an oak tree in the Lakeshore Nature Preserve.

At the Lakeshore Nature Preserve, interns gaining insights about ongoing projects focused on restoration and conservation. On a less rainy day, the interns would have volunteered with the Preserve staff who tend to the heart of campus.


Students gather around a rebuilt chicken coop surrounded by pine trees.

Interns explored the historic Leopold Shack and Farm, a property owned by former UW–Madison professor Aldo Leopold and his family. The interns also visited the Aldo Leopold Foundation in Baraboo to learn about the restoration work conducted by Leopold, who was a pioneer in ecological restoration and conservation. 


Interns observed effigy mounds and the Tree of Peace on Observatory Hill during a First Nations Cultural landscape tour. 

Following an immersive First Nations Cultural Landscape Tour, interns gathered on Observatory Hill near effigy mounds and the Tree of Peace. The tour is a place-based guided walk to UW–Madison buildings, historical markers, and archaeological sites, reflecting on the historic and contemporary relationships with First Nations and Teejop.


Interns toured St. Vincent de Paul’s central processing facility. 

Interns were taken behind the scenes of St. Vincent de Paul’s operations site, gaining insights into the supply chain and the philosophy that encourages the reuse of discarded items. 


Interns gathered around the Trashlab, a mobile display detailing the work of the Dane County Landfill.

At the Dane County Landfill, interns learned about materials management programs, such as Clean Sweep, construction and demolition recycling, and a renewable natural gas project.


Interns took a comprehensive tour of the Charter Street Heating & Cooling Plant.

Interns took a look at the innovative equipment helping to manage emissions and minimize energy usage at the Charter Street Heating & Cooling Plant. This facility serves as the primary provider of steam and chilled water for heating and air-conditioning throughout the UW–Madison campus. 


Interns visited the SWAP facility to learn how surplus materials are repurposed at UW–Madison.

SWAP (Surplus With a Purpose) is a UW–Madison facility dedicated to the repurposing of surplus items from various university departments. Interns were provided with an in-depth tour of its warehouse. SWAP conducts an online public auction for the resale of items.


Interns toured the Farley Center for Peace, Justice & Sustainability.

At the Farley Center, interns took part in hands-on activities like harvesting culturally significant foods and removing non-native species from the walking paths of the Natural Path Sanctuary. Interns also heard from growers about sustainable agriculture practices and beekeeping.


Interns investigated the 20-megawatt O’Brien Solar Fields. 

The O’Brien Solar Fields, the largest solar array in Dane County, provides clean energy to local businesses, cities, and public institutions, including UW–Madison. The interns learned about solar tracking technology, which maximizes solar capture and energy production. 


Interns walked through the different landscapes at the UW–Madison Arboretum.

The UW–Madison Arboretum is a dynamic research facility that houses diverse ecological communities with an array of prairies and forests. Interns learned about the Arboretum staff’s commitment to sustainability efforts. The Arboretum Visitor Center is a Platinum certified Green Office.

By: Chandler Wells and Narayani Meghna Varanasi