By Paige Esterkin
Having grown up a Minnesota Twins fan, I have developed a habit of rooting for the underdog. When it comes to changing environmental policy, non-profit organizations like the Sierra Club are the underdog. The amazing people I have worked with this past semester at the Sierra Club to fight against big coal and oil companies, no matter how many times the government squashes legislation supporting renewable energy sources, always keep fighting to protect our environment.
Last spring, I spent a semester away from GW, and hiked, sailed, and sea kayaked throughout the backcountry of New Zealand with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). This amazing experience in the outdoors is what first sparked my interest in wanting to preserve our wild spaces. When I came home from New Zealand, I started following the Sierra Club on Twitter, and, one day, I saw they tweeted about an available media internship position for the fall semester. I applied, interviewed, and was elated when I found out I got the job.
As a media intern for the Sierra Club this semester, I have helped draft op-ed pieces, press releases, editorial board memos, and letters to the editor. I have also written my own blog posts for their website regarding the Healthy Kids Outdoors Act and the Sierra Club’s Mission Outdoors initiative. A highlight of the semester was when I was asked to attended the Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Hearing on “The Solyndra Failure: Views from DOE Secretary Chu,” and my job was to LIVE Tweet the event from the Sierra Club’s Twitter account. Another highlight was when I attended a press conference on a rally against the Keystone XL Pipeline, and was able to shake hands and speak with Bill McKibben, environmental writer and 350.org founder.
Before I worked at the Sierra Club, I had a basic understanding of current environmental issues. I knew coal production was bad for the environment, but not how it compared to dirty natural gas and nuclear energy production. I knew wind, solar, and geothermal energy were alternative energy sources, but couldn’t tell you how they reduce our dependence on foreign oil and boost our economy by creating more jobs at home. Today, I realize the struggle environmental non-profits face against large coal and oil companies, and how much work goes into passing legislation in favor of renewable energy sources and environmental protection. Perhaps one day soon environmental groups will no longer be the underdogs… and the Minnesota Twins will win the World Series.