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EarthWays Center Summer Interns Bring the Heat!

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EarthWays Center Summer Interns Bring the Heat!

Each summer, EarthWays Center welcomes interns that are dedicated to gaining experience in the field of sustainability. We are excited to welcome four interns to the EarthWays team this summer. Read on to learn more about our interns and their experiences so far.

Eileen Graessle - Sustainability Education Intern

My name is Eileen Graessle, and I am originally from the east coast, where I graduated from the University of Florida with a therapy degree and met my husband. After my daughter was born, we moved to Missouri where my husband’s family is and had our second child. Now that they are both in college, it proved a good time to work on a degree in Biodiversity, Wildlife, and Ecosystem Health through the University of Edinburgh which I just completed in June 2021! I researched the fantastic potential of how land used to generate and transport power can also support pollinators through how the plants on the land are managed.

My favorite hobby is transforming my bush honey-suckle-invaded yard into a large Missouri native garden and watching new creatures of all types arrive to expand into a habitat food web. I love photographing the bees visiting my flowers and post the bee pictures to iNaturalist as part of a citizen science group, Shutterbee. The collective work contributes to knowledge on plant-pollinator interactions and adds info on population dynamics and diversity for tracking changes over time as landscapes change in the ability to support them. I like to dig into the resources at on insect conservation, exploring the unique roles and value of insects, including fireflies and native bees.

Collecting trash in waterways is another type of volunteer work I enjoy through The Missouri Stream Team, reflecting my love of nature uncluttered. When I was young, I grew up swimming in New York waters which had so much trash at the bottom that I was afraid to let my feet touch down, showing me the need to care for nature for people and animals by reducing trash through reducing, reusing or recycling. I still put together a sample community of waterways with my children when we are visiting nature, trying to collect as many creatures as possible in a bucket to study before releasing them.

One of my favorite places in Missouri has always been the Missouri Botanical Garden, not only for the collection’s beauty, but for the conservation, education, and research priorities in action. As intern at the EarthWays Center, I am learning a great deal from the staff on the wide range of ways to explore sustainable possibilities and actions at different levels. A project I am working on is mapping out locations of schools which have participated in programs on how our changes to landscapes and plants effect erosion. Another is an activity showing how composting food leftovers and organic materials can create super soil for feeding plants. By the end of the summer, I will have expanded my knowledge on how to make a difference with sustainable choices heading into the future and am grateful for the opportunity!

Cheyenne Griffin – Sustainability Education Intern


Cheyenne is a graduate student in the Horticultural Sciences Department at Texas A&M University(TAMU) pursuing a Master's of Agriculture. She is graduating in December of 2021. Before she graduates, she is completing an internship through the Missouri Botanical Garden and completing her research project. Her project focuses on surveying the student population at TAMU on their perception of the Botanic Garden that was opened on campus in 2018. She hopes to evaluate the value of creating green spaces, as well as assess how students' well-being has been affected by the creation of the campus gardens. Cheyenne is interested in working in education programs through green spaces such as botanic gardens, national and local parks, forests, and preserves, and hopes to start her career as an educator in the agriculture or environmental sector this year. Having a positive impact on her community through agriculture, environmental science, and sustainability education is a passion for Cheyenne.

While interning with the youth programs at Missouri Botanical Garden, Cheyenne has worked with the EarthWays Education team, the Outdoor Youth Corps program, and the EcoAct Program. Cheyenne has worked on developing educational eBooks from sustainability-focused children's books. Her completed, "Compost Stew" was offered during the 2021 virtual Green Living Festival for families to enjoy. She has also helped the Sustainability team prepare a professional development for teachers on the topic of sustainability education, and has been working on the development of an interpretive guide for rainwater management that emphasizes rainscaping as a beautiful way to accomplish rainwater management at home. While working with the EcoAct program, Cheyenne has led one of the "Outdoor Appreciation Week" days, she hosted an educational Kahoot about the National Park System, she helped the students familiarize themselves with field identification books, and she facilitated a bio blitz with the use of iNaturalist where the students identified a multitude of species in Forest Park. Additionally, she has helped facilitate the work and professional development of amazing young and developing professionals in St. Louis with the Outdoor Youth Corps. One of Cheyenne's favorite things about her internship has been interacting with and educating youth in St. Louis. She is enjoying her time at the Garden and is excited for the projects and personal connections to come.

Mary Masterson – Energy Efficiency and Sunflower+ Project Intern


They say that for millennials pets are becoming the new children, and plants are becoming the new pets- this description fits me. I care for a thriving courtyard garden of “plant pets”, and the number of “plant pets” inside my home rivals that of the outside. I’ve inherited my green thumb from my mother.

I love living in Soulard with my husband Sam and our dog-child, Rocky. When we’re not at the Frenchtown dog park, we’re probably at ITap or the Farmer’s Market. My husband and I try to live our best zero-waste life; composting, recycling, TerraCycling, and buying eco-friendly products and food that doesn’t come packaged in plastic.

Recently my professional career and environmental values did not co-exist. In fact, they were opposite. I found myself in an unfulfilling career and I was collecting the office recyclables because they would not recycle despite my best efforts. So I’m starting my career over and putting my energy towards my passion for sustainability.

The EarthWays Center has wonderful connections to like-minded, eco-friendly folks. The staff at EWC care deeply about the health of our planet and the climate crisis. Their well of environmental information runs deep and is diverse. They provide different avenues for working a green collar job that can fit different passions.

During my internship I have been working with Richard Reilly at the Sunflower+ site and EWC Energy Efficiency Programs. The Sunflower+ site is inspiring to anyone who lives in St. Louis. I have learned so much history about St. Louis and the Old North neighborhood, and about pocket parks and the impact sites like the Sunflower+ site have on the Earth and the community.

I have learned about energy efficiency outreach partnerships with Liberty and Ameren. I’ve attended virtual meetings with EWC partners including the St. Louis Healthy Homes and Energy Efficiency Coalition, OneSTL, and the U.S. Green Building Council. I have researched potential grants and financial partners. I promoted the Green Living Festival and joined in the virtual events. I am sincerely grateful for all the resources and opportunities this internship has provided so far.

Jenna Murdock - Energy Efficiency and Sunflower+ Project Intern


My name is Jenna Murdock, and I am an EarthWays intern for summer 2021! I am originally from Cincinnati, Ohio but I am currently attending school at Washington University in St. Louis. In Cincinnati I live on a farm which really spurred my love for the environment. At Washington University I took my interest in the environment and chose to study Environmental Engineering with a minor in Energy. I just completed my sophomore year, and I am incredibly excited for what the next two years hold. Outside of taking classes, I am a member of the cross-country team and track team, I participate in Engineers Without Borders, and I volunteer at a local food pantry. Running, volunteering, and sustainable practices have always been my biggest passions. Engineers Without Borders only runs during the academic year so I was looking for some way to fill my sustainability void over the summer. The EarthWays Center was the perfect opportunity to dive deeper into my understanding of green living!

At the EarthWays Center I am working with Richard Reilly on the Sunflower+ Project and seeking funding opportunities for OneTouch St. Louis. I have greatly enjoyed my time on the Sunflower+ Project thus far. This project is a great opportunity to see the real impact of sustainable work in the community. From the couple hours a week we spend cutting grass and weeding I have come to love the community in Old North. Recently I also accompanied Richard to Preston Community Garden opening in East St. Louis. It was such a neat experience to see people from all over the area come together to build a garden for future generations. The EarthWays Center and Richard have helped me solidify that this line of work aligns with the impact I hope to have in my community.


Thanks to our 2021 summer interns for sharing their experiences thus far. To learn more about the Garden's internship opportunities click here

| Categories: Volunteer Updates | Tags: EarthWays Center interns, Sunflower+ Project interns, internship, sustainability education | View Count: (413) | Return
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