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utulsa.edu

Student Interns at the Metropolitan Environmental Trust

Student blog by Maureen Haynes, sociology major. 

Haynes teaching Tulsa Public Schools students.

Haynes teaching Tulsa Public Schools students.

In the spring of last year, I happened to venture by one of TU’s job fairs which was being held in one of the rooms at the student union. As freshman, I wasn’t expecting too much, but I wanted to get the lay-of-the-job-fair-land before it would become an infinitely more important experience as an upperclassman. Looking back, I’m glad that I did!

While at the job fair, I was approached by Graham Brannin, the Executive Director of the Metropolitan Environmental Trust. The Metropolitan Environmental Trust, or “the M.e.t.” as it’s known, is a public trust authority serving the Tulsa metro’s needs with vital recycling, sustainability, and “Green STEM” education programs.

He and I conversed about my high school (for which the M.e.t. helped to spearhead a student-led recycling effort) and the M.e.t.’s mission. After reviewing my resume, he gave me his contact information and advised me to keep in touch. Fast forward to the end of the spring semester when he emailed me asking me to come in and interview for a summer internship position working on the M.e.t.’s education and recycling programs. Needless to say, I got the job and spent my summer working in the M.e.t.’s downtown office as well as in countless different Tulsa-area schools.

While interning at the M.e.t., I learned the little things, like how long it takes styrofoam to decompose (it actually never decomposes—that Chinese take-out box in your fridge will be in our landfills for millions of years to come!), but I also learned the big things, like how tirelessly our city’s public servants work to improve the community’s quality of life. My day-to-day job included managing the M.e.t.’s social and digital media and performing office tasks, but also teaching “Green STEM” and recycling lesson plans to both students and teachers alike. Some of my students at Tulsa Public Schools dubbed me “Green Maureen,” as I was teaching them how they can be sustainable citizens in their every day lives.

Furthermore, I worked on one of the M.e.t.’s fledgling programs, the IDL Recycling Program, which aims to

Haynes presenting to the Brady Arts Council.

Haynes presenting to the Brady Arts Council.

bring accessible recycling services to bars and businesses throughout the downtown Tulsa area. I presented to the Brady Arts Council in addition to working beside local business owners, all to help the downtown Tulsa area become more sustainable.

In my time at the M.e.t., I learned invaluable nonprofit management skills, as I was working in the office alongside individuals who had been in the industry for decades. These practical skills will undoubtedly serve me for many years to come. But even more importantly, I also learned what it means to serve my community—interning at the M.e.t. has brought me closer to Tulsa’s core values and people, making my internship a truly influential endeavor.