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Environmental Stewardship Interns in the USGS Library

By Richard L. Huffine

Photo of Laura Mays and team going through film. Laura Mays and part of the team go through film to see if it is stable.
Photo Credit: Jae Kwak

Laura Mays and Julie Danfora spent their summer as Environmental Stewardship Interns with the USGS Library in Reston, Va.

Laura says that her favorite experience was being able to work with a really great team that she enjoyed being with so much, which was a really positive experience. Four other students were working in the library as part of a separate project, but they all became friends because they worked in the same area.

Most of Laura’s work involved an effort at the USGS Library to reduce our space by one third. She found it enlightening to realize that so much space was being used to house third and fourth copies of series that no one was using. By properly managing the collection, the library can significantly reduce the amount of space needed to store its collection, conserving natural resources and reducing the library’s impact on the environment.

Julie spent a majority of her time creating and completing spreadsheets while inventorying different collections in the library, which strengthened her computer skills. She also learned quite a bit reading maps. Both skills will surely benefit her in the future.

Photo of Julie Danfora Julie, inspecting old reels of film to determine their quality. These reels held images of Greenland.
Photo Credit: Jae Kwak

Julie also was able to assist library staff with visiting schools and managing summer camp field trips, where the children were taught about the USGS and the environment. Some of the campers released frogs that had made their transformation from tadpoles and were ready to live in a natural habitat. The campers also tested the pond water for its pH levels, ammonia, and nitrates. The field trips were a great way for Julie to contribute to the education of young children, especially about science and the environment.

Working for a federal agency was a learning experience for the students as well. Laura did not know very much about the nature of federal employment and all the details associated with getting into the system. Their USGS manager, Lisa Adamo, provided the students with professional development courses that outlined the basics of job searching, interviewing, and networking.

Julie felt that the most beneficial training she received this summer was the professional development coaching. Through this experience, Laura realized she was capable of being an effective team player. Because she worked on a friendly, capable team, she learned how to collaborate on projects—and to enjoy herself while doing so! Julie has decided to stay on during the school year with a team of students who are working on the Historical Topographic Map Project, also in the USGS Library in Reston.

This was the second year for the USGS Library to use the Environmental Stewardship Intern program. It continues to be a great opportunity to link the work we do in the library to the impact that the USGS and the Department of the Interior have on the environment every day.