Environmental Intern, Kealie Vogel, has spent her summer at Prairie State ensuring environmental compliance and working to reduce environmental degradation across campus.
Kealie has spent a significant portion of her time at Prairie State transitioning compliance records from physical files to online records, recording water levels, updating emissions spreadsheets, updating waste management invoices, and calculating CO2 offsets.
She has also been assisting with ground water and surface water sampling; this involves testing wells and ponds on campus to determine pH, temperature, water level, and turbidity of the water in each sampling location. These samples are then sent to an offsite lab to ensure compliance with federal and state EPA standards.
Her favorite task this summer has been learning to operate the environmental department’s drone, which is used to track the progress of environmental restoration projects. She has also enjoyed conducting single-stream and universal waste recycling, which includes transporting mercury vapor bulbs and industrial-grade batteries for recycling.
This summer, Kealie has learned about the process of maintaining environmental compliance. “Looking at it from the perspective of a regulated company like Prairie State is an interesting contrast to my experience at the Illinois EPA last summer. Now that I have seen which aspects of the regulatory process work well and which could be improved, I am hopeful that this experience will help me become a better policymaker in my future career.”
Over this summer, Kealie feels that she has gained skills which could successfully apply to sustainable and renewable energy policy. This field has grown in interest to Kealie, as that sector is quickly growing. In the fall, Kealie will return to the University of Illinois to complete her master’s degree.