The August before my senior year of college, I started looking for organizations to complete my Environmental Studies capstone at; an internship where I would be immersed in hands-on environmental work in the Twin Cities. This is how I found the Great Plains Institute, specifically the Metro Clean Energy Resource Team because of their essential focus on expanding clean energy resources in the Twin Cities. Solving climate change issues with technology is one of the most efficient ways to transition to a greener community so I saw this organization as a great place to learn about implementing clean energy projects.
My first day working with the Metro CERT I was introduced to the staff and given an overview of the internship, where I would assist the 2022 seed grant process. At first, I was not sure what seed grant applications entailed so I did some research on the previous applications that were funded and I was so impressed with the breadth of projects and the impact they have had on the communities which included solar gardens, EV charging stations, energy efficiency upgrades, and more.
I started the process of seed grant outreach to county administrators in the counties surrounding the cities. Since I am not from Minnesota I had to quickly become familiar with the layout of the counties and neighborhoods to determine where to target my outreach. Before I knew it, 4 p.m. on October 8 rolled around; the deadline for the seed grant applications. We had 32 Metro applications! That afternoon, I was met with many emails outlining innovative and exciting ideas from community organizations. I helped organize these ideas for the review committee where they were ranked according to predetermined criteria. I had also ranked them myself, on a form that did not count for the overall rating, but to see how my own choices would match up against the committee’s decision. I found it difficult to deduct points since they all seemed like great projects by people that wanted to create a more sustainable future for their community. As I was going through the review committee’s rankings, I realized I had been way too lenient and quickly changed a few of my own scores to knock some points off where the criteria had not been completely met.