Most of my time at my SCA internship was spent working with and improving the projects I discussed with you guys in my last blog: food waste management, electrical use reduction. I spent some of my extra time looking for what low hanging fruit I could address regarding other aspects of sustainability on site. The longer I was at the site, the more comfortable with and more confident in my role as a sustainability intern I became. Funny how that happens, because here I am at the end of my internship, at my very most productive and knowledgeable, raring to get more and more done, but now I have to leave! It was nice that the weather stayed pretty temperate throughout the time I was here, not that I didn’t worry every day that I could thank global warming for this 65 degrees October weather! The leaves still changed and made it feel something like fall, but not like anything you get on the East coast.
Tahoe is frequently referred to as a “pristine environment,” but that pristine status is a hot topic when it comes to talking about the possible effects of global warming. From what I have learned, global warming will cause a drop in area snowfall, plus an increase in rain. This will negatively affect both the economy and the ecology of the area. I’ve seen play out firsthand; it’s November 20th right now, the last day of my internship, and while there were hopes that forecasts for snow would pan out this week (which excited a lot of people in the area as one of the popular mountains is supposed to open this Friday) we only ended up with damp soil from some minimal rain that fell last night. Less snow fall is going to affect what is called California’s “frozen reservoir”. The snow that this area gets is used for the state’s water supply; the way in which it stays frozen helps the area store water cheaply. Now that there will be more liquid water, more investments will have to be made in dams and reservoirs. And obviously, the ski resorts will have to rely more on making snow than getting the natural stuff. It’s also forecast that the lake is going to recede, affecting the Tahoe’s unique depth range and changing the habitats of fish and other organisms that rely on particular depths and mixes of water from different parts of the lake to survive.*
As I mentioned in a previous post, protecting Tahoe’s environment is a major focus of our site. We work with ARAMARK’s Safety and Risk Control Team on many environmental compliance activities to make certain and do all that we can. I got to do a nice amount of work with this team, and it was pretty cool to see the compliance/regulatory side of things when I was really only familiar with sustainability beforehand. My work with the compliance team started with learning all about an array of topics such as air quality management, hazardous waste management, oil management, storm water management, and universal waste management. I participated in trainings and learned why these issues are important and how to properly manage them under ARAMARK protocols. I worked the most with hazardous waste management, universal waste management, and refrigerant management. Throughout all of my work, I learned a lot about our facilities and how appliances like HVAC systems and water heaters work. These tasks had me spending a lot of time in places like our maintenance shop: another area that was previously very foreign to a Jersey girl like me. But it was fun! I got to engage in an audit with the Safety and Risk Control Team when they came out here and spend two whole days as a compliance auditor as well. Check out my auditing skills in the photo up top!
An accomplishment I wanted to mention about my work was helping the site to win an award at the Tahoe Chamber of Commerce’s Blue Ribbon Awards. The Chamber recognizes different people and businesses in the area for things like geotourism, being green, entrepreneurship, customer service, etc. I
helped us to apply for the “Large Green Business” award, and we received an Honorable. I was kinda bummed we didn’t win first place, but the team who won was a ski resort that offered carbon offsets to all guests who visit the resort.. how do you compete with that? Anyway, the award ceremony was held last week and it was a nice thing to receive at the end of my internship and a nice way to acknowledge our site’s green accomplishments.
So as I said, I have now completed my internship! At no surprise to most of you who are either about to graduate college or are searching for something permanent to do, it feels like everyone and their mother is asking me: “So now what???” And to be honest, no plans yet. I’m so thankful for all the sustainability and conservation experience I’ve gotten so far. I mean if I could tell my freshman in college self about all the awesome stuff I’ve gotten to do I don’t think she’d believe me. Getting out into the world and connecting with the land in different ways, from working on a farm or a garden, to doing this internship has really changed me and taught me about what I think is important. So what is next? Hopefully I can find a great career doing this kind of stuff. I think the best part about jobs like this is that you don’t really have to have a hobby that you’re interested in outside of work to keep things interesting. Work is fulfilling enough. I can only hope for a position that will be enriching, connect me to my environment, and contribute to my and others’ happiness in this beautiful world we live in. Thanks for reading!
*Information referenced from KQED.org Article: Tahoe Forecast: Shrinking Snow, Longer Walk to the Water.