Kate Ritley

Internship Report

My work as the Northwest Renewable Energy Festival intern has been a mixture of excitement and frustration.  I began the semester working with three other interns, Linnea, Tyler, and Sarah, with the help of Kevin Scribner, on both the festival and on Earth Day 2002.  The internship had no real direction and no leader, so it took a while to actually get going. 

At the beginning of the semester, after my first meeting with Kevin Scribner and the first meeting for the Renewable Energy Festival, I determined that my goal was to work on planning all aspects of the kids events for Energy Festival, and possibly for Earth Day.  This was to entail figuring out the logistics of getting the kids to the fair, finding a way to get the kids really involved in the fair (both before it, making projects, and at the fair), and finding exhibitors, vendors, and teachers to be at the fair specifically to educate and engage kids. The kids I refer to range in age from kindergarten to high school. 

Originally, we thought Earth Day and Energy Festival might be in conjunction with each other, but now we have decided that Renewable Energy Festival will be next September, so the events will be separate.  This greatly altered my objectives for the internship.  After much confusion, we decided that Linnea and I would continue our work on the Energy Festival, and Sarah and Tyler would work independently on Earth Day.

I began the internship by discussing the possibilities of involving kids in the fair with Kevin Scribner.  I have attended every Energy Fair and internship meeting.  I began by contacting EEK (Environmental Education for Kids) about involving kids.  I also made contact with the Earth Day intern from 2000, who in turn contact last year’s Earth Day intern.  Both are very excited to help out with Earth Day and/or Energy Fair.  I invited them to come to all of our internship meetings with Kevin Scribner. 

I did internet research about how to involve kids in environmental fairs (See websites in log), and  I joined the Executive Committee and the Content/Agenda Committee for Renewable Energy Festival.  Before my internship became focuses on just Energy Festival, I talked to Bob Carson about doing a work day (similar to Make a Difference Day) for Earth Day instead of having a fair (and we would have kids help us work on community projects like planting trees), and then presented this idea to Kevin Scribner and the other interns, and I believe they are going to use the idea.  At the Executive Committee meeting on October 23, I presented all that I had done to date about involving kids in the festival.  We decided that we would also hold a poster contest in the spring, and the winning poster would be rewarded and would be the main poster used to advertise for the festival.  Kevin had the idea that the winner could also have a plaque his his or her name put on one of the windmills, making it “his/her windmill”.  Kevin emailed me about a program that certifies schools as “Earth Friendly”, and I then discussed the possibilities of this with EEK.  It would take a lot of work, but it is something I will look into, and EEK would be interested in helping. 

I met with a local business owner, Henry Savelesky, about working with kids.  He is enthusiastic about education, and would like to sponsor a science-fair-project kind of contest for kids.  He will reward the winner with $100!  We planned to schedule the contest for the spring, and all projects completed will be displayed at the festival, along with all poster entries that were not chosen.  We also discussed having older kids, maybe even high schoolers, work on designing electric cars.

General Outline of Children's Events:

February/March 2002 we will have a poster design contest for kids (the winning poster will be the poster used to advertise the festival); all entries will be displayed at the festival, and winner may have a plaque with their name put on a windmill, making it “their windmill”.

March/April 2002 we will have a renewable energy science project fair for the kids.  Winners will be monetarily rewarded, and all projects will be displayed at the festival.

Have a contest for designing/building an electric car.

Potential Festival displays designed for kids include:  a TV powered by pedaling a bicycle, an electric train powered by solar panels, plus games, shows, and other hands-on activities.


Through emails and meetings with many different people, I have compiled a list of contacts that will be crucial to my work.  

                        Kevin Scribner, Energy Fair
                        Anna Taft, EEK
                        Jennifer Wieczorek, Earth Day 2000 intern
                        Larry Frank, Walla Walla Ranger District (Ntl forest has an Earth Day)
                        Karen Yager, Energy Fair
                        Jennifer Eskil, Energy Fair
                        Tom Osborn, Bonneville Power
                        Sandra D. Cannon
                        Sharon Johnson
                        Bill Gaffney, Umatilla Forest Watch
                        Peggy Willcuts, school distric science coordinator
                        Chris Kemper, Berney 2nd grade
                        Beth Call, Assumption 4th grade
                        Joelle Rickard, Green Park bilingual 3rd grade
                        todd Crouter, Edison 4th grade
                        Mrs. Gilbert, Green Park
                        Judith Johnson, Kooskooskie Commons
                        Mike Mahahn, Walla Walla Community College science chair and ecology club
   John Herr, Walla Walla High School teacher and head of Ecology Club
                        Kay Fenimore-Smith, Whitman Education Professor

I had phone numbers, mailing addresses, and email addresses for all of these people.  Some I have not yet contacted but will next semester, some I have been in close contact with, and from some I am awaiting a response.  When I began this internship I was overwhelmed by the idea of having to try to track down people in the community to assist me, but it has been amazingly easy to find these contacts.  

This internship has been a mixture of good and bad experiences so far.  I have really enjoyed working with Kevin and Linnea; they are both enthusiastic and helpful.  I am very impressed by the Energy Festival meetings I have attended.  They have been efficient, informational, and interesting.  The people at these meetings have had good ideas and have done an excellent job remaining on task and being professional.  Karen Yager has done wonderful work leading the meetings and coming to them prepared with an agenda and a handout of all pertinent information.

It has also been amazing to see people’s responses to my asking for help.  Jennifer Weiczorek  has maintained excellent contact with me; she is eager to help in any way possible, and has provided me with much hope to keep working on this.  Anna Taft has sent me extensive lists of contacts and is excited about the possibilities of involving all local elementary schools. 

There has been a lot of frustration along the way, and I am still frustrated about many aspects of the internship.  To begin, I was very frustrated that there was nothing I could actually do.  Kevin Scribner wanted me to establish my own set of goals and decide what I wanted to contribute to the Energy Festival.  No one knew if Earth Day and Energy Fair would be in conjunction, so it was hard to start actively planning Earth Day.  There was nothing that I could actually do to help with Energy Festival, since the people at the meetings did not seem concerned about accomplishing anything right away.  Much of this problem has now disappeared since I have decided that I am going to organize all the kids activities.  I can contact people and plan activities independent of the other interns or the Energy Festival committees, since I am focused only on kids events.  Another source of frustration has been in maintaining contact with people.  It seems that there is always some confusion or mix-up in scheduling.

Despite these difficulties, I have learned a lot from this internship.  I have learned how to make contacts in a community where I do not really know anyone.  More importantly, I have learned how to begin the organization of a major event such as Renewable Energy Festival.  In the future I plan to organize many community events, such as fairs and fundraisers, perhaps as part of my career or outside of it.  Working with the Energy Festival has taught me the importance of professionalism, preparedness, organization, and efficiency.  I have also learned to take initiative and find ways to work independently when a group is not working, but without disturbing the other members of the group.