“Intern Spotlight” is a series about former CEC interns, detailing their experiences at the organization and finding out what they are up to now. Over the years, hundreds of interns have helped CEC with its environmental programs while gaining useful skills and connections pertinent to their future careers.
Lars Davenport was an intern for CEC following his graduation from the UCSB Bren School of Environmental Science and Management. He is currently working for the Santa Ynez Chumash Environmental Office as an environmental specialist, focusing on community energy programs.
Tell us about your internship at CEC?
I started right after I got my master’s degree from the Bren School in July of 2012. This was around the time when CEC began looking at problems surrounding the food and energy nexus, and through my internship I was able to research and help develop some initial content. A group of other interns and I conducted interviews with local businesses and organized a community outreach effort to start CEC’s Eat Local campaign, and worked with partnerships to host Eat Local month.
My favorite memory was planning a carrot mob at Telegraph Brewery. We asked customers to eat and drink at the brewery in support of their decision to build a cool roof, which is a roof specifically designed to reflect more sunlight and absorb less heat than a standard roof I dressed as a carrot for the event, where we were able to raise over $1,000 to help fund the cool roof project. I didn’t have much experience in this area when I entered CEC, but I got a chance to broaden my skills in event planning and community outreach, both of which I rely on heavily for my work at the Chumash Environmental Office.
What was the best aspect of your experience here?
During my internship I was able to explore more about myself and what I could do in the environmental world. I worked pretty closely with Sigrid Wright, and the internship was unlike any other I’d been in before. There was a lot of leeway for interns to develop their projects; we weren’t micro-managed, or forced to do any “grunt” work. I had regular check-ins with Sigrid, where she gave me advice and feedback about how to improve and further my work. Having this attention allowed me to take ownership over my project and think of innovative ways to address environmental issues.
What kind of work are you doing at the Chumash Environmental Office?
I am working to engage the Chumash community around environmental sustainability. Most of my work is energy focused, including work with a grant we received from the EPA to put solar panels on homes in the area. I spend a lot of time interacting with community members directly. I go to meetings with local businesspeople and spend time in residents’ homes helping them implement solar. I also work in sustainable landscaping and waste management, which involves educating the community on ways that they can become more sustainable, and developing programs that will help achieve our environmental goals. Helping people here to become more environmentally engaged is a truly rewarding experience.
Do you have any advice for anyone seeking an internship at CEC?
I would advise them to view this as a non-traditional internship, and to take full advantage of the ability to craft your own role. The staff is great and will always be there for any advice or help. Dive in and don’t be afraid to take initiative because it is greatly appreciated by the staff, and will be beneficial to developing your own skills.