UW-Green Bay

Tag: environmental Humanities

How do the Humanities Connect to a Non-Profit Organization: My Internship with the Clean Water Action Council of Northeast Wisconsin

By Dana La Verne

The humanities explore the human experience, and one way to do this is interning with a non-profit organization. This semester I have been completing my humanities degree by interning with Clean Water Action Council of Northeast Wisconsin (CWAC). CWAC is a non-profit dedicated to promoting a safe, healthy, and sustainable environment for the region. Throughout this internship I have gained a positive experience in helping humans and the environment stay healthy.

Clean Water Action Council 2019 Farmers Market Booth

I have had many opportunities through this internship. I was able to talk to the local Green Bay community about CWAC at the Winter Farmers Market. The community is what allows us to be able to continue doing our work. I was also able to attend the Making the Connection Conference in Madison, WI which discussed environmental health in our society. I was able to listen to doctors and every day individuals discuss the work they do in society to help us live the healthiest lives possible.

Clean Water Action Council of Northeast Wisconsin Spring 2019 Newsletter

With this internship I also learned about managing a non-profit organization. I am the manager of the weekly update. This is an update we email to our members and email list with events, actions, new legal permits, and important environmental news that is happening in Northeast Wisconsin and around the world. I am also in charge of social media. I post everything from the weekly update, and anything that I find useful that the public should know about. CWAC also has a quarterly newsletter that we publish. For the Spring 2019 Newsletter I published an article called “Electric Vehicles Making a Positive Impact Toward Global Warming”, which discussed that electric vehicles will be a healthy form of transportation for humans and for the environment.

The Clean Water Action Council also hosts many events such as health forums to help keep the public informed. This includes keeping up with research, and what the public is interested in learning. The health forum I helped promote was “The Environment and Health: Why what we eat, touch, and breathe matters.” One major project we are working on with a sister non-profit, Clean Wisconsin, is discussing the dangers of Coal Tar Sealants. In the tar sealants are Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, or PAHs. They are found in parking lots and driveways which pose a threat to anyone, but especially the sick, elderly, and our children who play on these surfaces. We have hosted three presentations in Brown, Oconto and Marinette Counties, sent emails and letters to schools, hospitals, and public officials in the counties, cities, villages, and towns, and advertised throughout the communities. Legislation has been passed in neighboring areas to help raise awareness, which we now want to do in Northeast Wisconsin.

“Interning for a non-profit organization allows you the ability to experience humanities from a different perspective.”

Dana La Verne

Another important aspect with working with a non-profit organization is learning how to fundraise, either through the organization or through grants. For instance, we received a grant for the Coal Tar Sealants. We sell merchandise such as bags, t-shirts, and sweatshirts, but our biggest fundraiser is our annual banquet. I had to contact local businesses for donations to our silent auction, advertise the event, sell tickets, and help with the planning process. Our banquet included a social, silent auction, dinner, program, and dance. This year the meal was slow roasted free-range chicken which was gluten-free or mushroom Marinara, which was vegan and also gluten-free. You also got a mixed green salad, roasted sweet potatoes, vegetables, and a dessert bar. Our food was locally sourced. If you didn’t find something you liked to eat, there was no hope. The program included speaker Paul Matheson from Clean Wisconsin discussing protecting our families from toxic pavement sealants, and the band was Terry Murphy and the Cherry Pickers. It was a fun time promoting CWAC and the work that we do, but it was also a lot of work. The greatest thing I enjoyed was seeing everything come together.

Speaker Paul Matheson discussing Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, or PAHs, in tar pavement sealants, and the harm it causes to the public health.
Photo Credit: Intern Lauren Felder
My boyfriend Devin and I all dressed up at the Clean Water Action Council Banquet. My family are my greatest supporters.
Photo Credit: Kayla Carolyn Photography

Interning for Clean Water Action Council of Northeast Wisconsin gave me a well-rounded experience. I learned how to manage a non-profit through the wonderful guidance of President and Director Dean Hoegger, I organized events, managed the weekly newsletter and social media, wrote a published article, and I went out of my comfort zone with fundraising by calling businesses. I also gained important relationships with the other interns, Lauren Felder and Jace Hannemann, and interim manager Caitlin Cravillion. We helped each other when needed, supported each other on difficult days, and became wonderful friends. This internship helped me gain professional experience that I can use in my future careers and endeavors, and it helped me build long lasting relationships.

I hope this blog post makes you realize that humanities can be more than interning at museums or historical societies. It is also about learning about humanity today. I gained that experience by interning at CWAC. You can gain that experience by working at any non-profit you could imagine. It doesn’t even have to be a non-profit. You take out what you want from your participation in an internship.

“This internship and everything I learned along the way will stick with me for the rest of my life. “

Dana La Verne

I would like to end by saying thank you to the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay, the humanities department, and especially Clean Water Action Council of Northeast Wisconsin for giving me this opportunity and professional experience. I hope to take everything I learned and the portfolio I built throughout the semester to continue impacting humanity and society in a positive way.

What’s “Environmental Humanities” all about? by David Voelker

“Environmental Humanities” is a new minor emphasis in the Humanities. Starting last year, UWGB offers a minor in Humanities, with an emphasis on environmental topics. In addition to including interdisciplinary Humanities classes, the program also includes courses from English, First Nations Studies, History, and Philosophy.

We often think of environmental problems as scientific and technical problems, so when we think about sustainability, we usually turn to scientific and technical solutions. While science and technology are clearly critical to both understanding and solving our environmental problems, they are two pieces of a larger puzzle. After all, since the 1960s (at least), we’ve had a growing scientific understanding of several environmental crises that are underway, including problems with pollution, deforestation, declining biodiversity, and climate change. During the same period, technologies for renewable energy, energy efficiency, and other environmentally friendly measures have expanded tremendously. Yet, arguably, the overall global environment is more degraded than ever before in human history. What gives?

To understand what’s going on, we clearly need a perspective that includes history, culture, and ethics. That’s where the Environmental Humanities come in!

The study of History can give us insight into how and why current environmental problems developed over a long period of time and across vast distances on Earth–and can also help us understand and evaluate how effective various efforts of reform and regulation have been over the years.

First Nations Studies allows us to consider perspectives on the relationship between humans and (the rest of nature) that depend more on respect and reciprocity than on control and consumption. What would it mean, as Potawatomi botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer has asked, to “Reclaim the Honorable Harvest”?

Last but not least, Philosophy helps us think in a complex way about the ethical issues involved in our relationships with the natural environment. What’s the moral significance of a tree or of a disappearing species? Do we have obligations to the environment that go beyond human needs? What do we owe future generations?

Taken together, these humanistic disciplines empower us to ask crucial, big questions, including: When we talk about sustainability, what exactly is it that we are trying to sustain?

For the Spring 2019, we are offering three courses that will count toward the minor emphasis in Environmental Humanities:

  • FNS 224: First Nations and the Sacred
  • History 220: American Environmental History
  • FNS 360: Women and Gender in First Nations Communities

For Fall 2019, we are offering two courses that will count toward the minor emphasis in Environmental Humanities:

  • Hum Stud 100: Living the Humanities: Humans and Nature (with substitution)
  • Hum Stud 400: Humanities Practicum (with substitution)

Click here for more information about the Environmental Humanities program at UWGB, or feel free to contact me for questions. There are a couple of other courses that may be substituted for requirements, so please do check in with me or with the Humanities adviser, Professor Heidi Sherman.

Written by,

David Voelker

Associate Professor of Humanities and History


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