A grant from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation is allowing four Illinois College students to conduct environmental internships this summer.
According to Illinois College President Axel D. Steuer, “The Margaret A. Cargill Foundation grant is funding a five-year internship program that provides our students with experiential learning opportunities to complement classroom learning.” He continued, “This important grant helps to support Illinois College’s commitment to be an environmentally friendly institution.”
“This program provides wonderful internship opportunities for our environmental studies and biology majors,” said Susie Drake, director of career services. “There is great flexibility in the design of these internships. The students take the initiative to contact a potential employer, negotiate the terms of their internship and submit a proposal to the selection committee.” Drake added that each internship includes on-site supervision as well as guidance from a faculty advisor, and academic internship credits awarded by the college.
Robert Rush, a senior from Carlinville, is interning at the Potter Park Zoo in Lansing, Mich. Rush is interning under the direction of resident veterinarian Dr. Justin Schlanser, and assisting in research on freshwater turtles. In addition, Rush is learning about the organization of the zoo, movement of large animals into the zoo and preparation of exhibits. He also observes and assists with surgical procedures on exotic animals at the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine.
Ashley Hembrough, a junior from Jacksonville, is interning at the Helen A. Dean Community Garden in Jacksonville. Hembrough has solicited area businesses for support and made public presentations to encourage the use of the garden and recruit volunteers. Her work in the garden this summer includes caring for plants, removing weeds, applying mulch and water, collecting fruits and vegetables to share with visitors or transport to the Food Center, greeting visitors, leading garden tours and supervising volunteer workers.
In addition, Hembrough, along with junior Shanna David from Trivoli and sophomore Phuong Nguyen from Thai Binh, Vietnam, are interning at Starhill Forest Arboretum near Petersburg. These interns are working directly with the Arboretum’s primary scientific collection, a living reference collection of Quercus (oak trees) that has been recognized by the North American Plant Collections Consortium. Additionally, they assist in maintaining and monitoring herb and perennial landscapes, a native prairie garden, several provenance tests, containerized tree production, a rare tree nursery and a conifer plantation. They are completing a digital herbarium that was begun by previous students for the entire oak collection for use by other students and research scientists. The duo is also helping to complete the final stages of construction of a new field laboratory for use by future generations of students.
Margaret A. Cargill is the granddaughter of William Cargill, cofounder of Cargill Inc. The Margaret A. Cargill Foundation was created upon the philanthropist’s death in 2006, and assists programs that reflect her passions and priorities including the environment; the arts; services to families, children and the elderly; disaster-related relief, recovery and development; planned health; and animal welfare.