The Clean Water Blog

Meet our Summer 2020 Maryland Interns!

This year, as our Baltimore office is closed and we're all working from home, our internship program looks a little different! We're working with 11 interns, including high school, college, and graduate students, to expand our research base and work on septic and sewer systems, drinking water protections, Superfund sites, trash incineration, and more. Get to know them here, and keep an eye out for more important work from them over the summer!

Mariana Silva, Environmental Engineering / Theology, University of Notre Dame

My name is Mariana Silva, a junior environmental engineering major and theology minor at the University of Notre Dame. I’ve spent a lot of time in college conducting environmental research: last summer I conducted, presented, and published in a student newspaper exploratory work on wetland ecosystems at the University of Notre Dame Environmental Research Center (UNDERC) in northern Wisconsin; I’ve also done mapping work on the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect on neighborhoods in Chicago using a novel sensing network called the Array of Things. With Clean Water Action, I will be working on organizing data around septic system and private well testing in Maryland, in an effort to encourage an increase in such testing to trace contaminants in groundwater. I have developed a unique focus within my major that I hope to take with me to graduate school in 2021. I aim to research peatland ecosystems present in Ireland, while tying in global environmental advocacy for sustainable agriculture and carbon sequestration.

Kelly Vanuga, Environmental Studies, University of Delaware

Hi Everyone! My name is Kelly. I recently just graduated from the University of Delaware. I majored in Environmental Studies with a concentration in advocacy and double minors in Energy & Environmental Policy and Environmental Humanities. I’ve always had a deep rooted passion for the environment and environmental issues. As I just graduated into what feels like an unknown world I am so grateful to be given the opportunity to work alongside the Clean Water Action organization as this is an organization that shares the same mission and values as me that all lead to building a future of clean water and clean energy and overall a better world. I hope to gain experiences and knowledge that will help me to further my career! This summer I will be focusing on supporting the upcoming legislation in Howard County around the low-impact landscaping bill in Howard, seeing the legislative process through and using it to build toward state legislation on the same subject in 2021. The focus of the bill is around implementation of low-impact landscaping and the installation of projects like rain barrels and rain gardens. I am so excited to be interning here and to be working alongside some amazing people and the campaigns they have going on this summer!

Zane Poffenberger, Political Science and History, UMBC

Hello, my name is Zane Poffenberger and I am a Senior Political Science and History double major at UMBC. I am also enrolled in an accelerated Master’s program through UMBC’s school of Public Policy. My interest in the environment and issues related to it has mostly stemmed from my internship with Delegate Dana Stein last spring. Through this experience, I was able to learn about the environmental legislation such as the banning of Chlorpyrifos and the implementation of more oyster sanctuaries to address these issues within Maryland. I have also been involved with other types of activism at UMBC through serving as an elected officer of the Student Government Association and College Democrats. I am excited to intern with Clean Water Action as I would like to further my knowledge of environmental issues within Maryland and aid in advocating for good policy to address them.

Indrayani Thakare, Environmental Science, New Jersey Institute of Technology

I grew up in a family where a sustainable lifestyle is inculcated in you from the very start. My grandparents are farmers and I was made to pick up fallen grains in their fields to teach me, how much every grain counts. I loved to wander around in the forests as a kid and love to trek even now. I grew up realizing how much we all owe to the environment, and that we must just give up our unsustainable lifestyle habits for its protection. I am Indrayani Thakare and I am pursuing my master’s in environmental science at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark. I left my corporate job to pursue my education in Environmental Science after realizing the grave need for awareness of Environmental Protection amongst the people around and rational changes in Environmental Policies. I am very excited to be a Summer Intern at the Clean Water Action, their energy and dedication towards the Environmental Protection is contagious. I will be working on reviewing the technical documents related to the Superfund Sites in Maryland and creating publicly accessible educational materials to help raise awareness of these concerns. The most amazing part of this internship is to be able to see and witness the change that we will be able to bring in so many lives through our actions.

Elizabeth Liebel, Public and International Affairs, Virginia Tech

I am currently working towards a MA in Public and International Affairs at Virginia Tech’s School of Public and International Affairs. I also completed my undergraduate degree in Political Science at Virginia Tech. During this summer with Clean Water Action I will be focusing on zero waste work and both the challenges and efforts of state and local governments in implementing these projects. I have been passionate about zero waste efforts in my personal life so I am excited to work with Clean Water Action in their zero waste efforts!

Genevieve Block, Geography and Spanish, Bucknell University

Hello! I am a rising junior at Bucknell University from Baltimore, Maryland. I am studying geography with a track in public health. My interest in environmental issues sparked after a presenter at my high school spoke about environmental injustices in Baltimore City. I carried this with me into my college career, studying global justice issues such as the relationship between developing third world countries and their surrounding environments. I am excited to spend this summer researching land use problems associated with Baltimore City's drinking water reservoirs. I hope to highlight this subject to preserve and protect our city’s drinking water supply.

Annika Leiby, Master of Environmental Science and Management, University of California Santa Barbara

My name is Annika and I am a second year master’s student at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at UC Santa Barbara. At the Bren School, I am specializing in Water Resources Management and obtaining a focus in Environmental Data Science. Through my undergraduate studies in geology and my first year graduate coursework I developed a profound interest in groundwater and pollutant transport through groundwater. At Clean Water Action, I will be working on two separate projects; the first is examining contamination of domestic drinking water wells due to failing septic systems in Maryland and the second is understanding groundwater contamination and other environmental impacts surrounding Fort Detrick Army base in Frederick, Maryland. I am excited to work for Clean Water Action this summer and further expand my knowledge and professional expertise to improve groundwater quality in my home state of Maryland.

Gustavo Ballesteros, Engineering Magnet Program, Wheaton High School

Hello! My name is Gustavo Ballesteros and I’m a rising senior in the engineering magnet program at Wheaton High School. I’m excited to be interning at the Maryland office of Clean Water Action and helping support their campaign on sewage backups in Baltimore City! As an intern, I’ll be interpreting the city’s sewage reports to make them more accessible to the public while comparing their solutions to other local cities and counties. I have personally witnessed the effects of a sewage backup in my own house and was disheartened to hear that citywide, Baltimore residents have been and continue to face similar problems. I hope my work will help to inform Baltimore residents of the ongoing work towards fixing said problems and provide resources to turn to when sewage problems occur. After high school, I plan to major in civil and environmental Engineering and believe that my time as an intern will give me insight on the policy side of sustainable infrastructure which will be invaluable in my future work as a civil engineer.

Mirabella Meoni, Environmental Studies, UC Santa Barbara

Hello! My name is Mirabella Meoni and I am excited to be a Clean Water Action intern this summer. I am a rising sophomore at UC Santa Barbara as an Environmental Studies major. I have lived in Maryland my entire life, so I am eager to become more involved with the environmental efforts here. This summer, I will be tracking and supporting local legislative work in central Maryland, including the upcoming low-impact landscaping bill in Howard County and local City Council actions. I hope to learn more about the process behind environmental legislation and how members of the community can get involved. I am grateful for this opportunity to be a part of Clean Water Action and I can’t wait to get started! 

Nia Bowrin, Engineering Magnet Program, Wheaton High School

Hello! My name is Nia and I am a rising junior at Wheaton High School in Montgomery County. I am currently studying different types of engineering such as civil and digital electronics, as well as chemistry and biology. I’m also an avid swimmer and enjoy the sport both competitively and recreationally which makes clean, healthy waterways an important cause to me. This summer, as an intern with Clean Water Action, I will be focusing on zero waste initiatives and the fight to close the incinerator in Montgomery County. I am thrilled to have this opportunity and I look forward to learning more about the legislative process and promoting these environmental issues and solutions to my community!

Virginia Borda, Public Policy / Environmental Science and Policy, University of MD College Park

Hi! My name is Virginia Borda, I'm from Frederick County, MD, and my pronouns are she/her/hers. I am a rising sophomore at the University of Maryland, College Park (Go Terps!). I'm a double major in Public Policy and Environmental Science and Policy: Wildlife Ecology and Management. Protecting the environment and all the wonderful life within it has been my lifelong passion, and I am so grateful to be interning with CWA to implement that enthusiasm. This summer, I'll be remotely attending County Council meetings, learning how to navigate local government hearings/meetings, community organizing and conducting outreach programs with my fellow interns, and researching policies on superfunds, incineration, offshore-wind facilities, septic systems, and other related topics. I can't wait to get started!