Marking its eighth year, Montclair State University’s PSEG Institute for Sustainability Studies (PSEG ISS) launched its 2023 Green Teams on June 1, pairing students with organizations for a transformative summer internship.
Organized by PSEG ISS, the initiative brings together aspiring environmental leaders and decision-makers to tackle pressing environmental challenges in the community.
This year, a group of 50 environmentally conscientious students are divided into 10 teams and aligned with host partner organizations to survey, research, analyze and report on sustainability projects. The organizations include PSEG; Hackensack Meridian Health; New Jersey Resources; NJ Transit; Stryker; Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; DSM-Firmenich; Newark Community Food System; and Montclair State University Facilities.
TerraCycle Chief Commercial Officer Katherine Pazakis, the event’s keynote speaker, told students that while climate problems are solvable, it requires change, work and inspiration.
“In order for us to see change at the pace and scale we need in order to combat climate change, it really comes down to innovation and belief in the ability to create change,” Pazakis said. “I’m really excited that the Green Teams initiative exists and I think this is what is going to actually transform business from today to what business needs to be in the future to be sustainable. Thank you all for your time and your effort this summer.”
Robyn Platz, a senior Public Relations major, is beginning her internship in the Green Teams program to learn more about the sector of communication of science and communication literacy.
“I feel like climate change and sustainability is everybody’s problem and I think communicating it in a way that helps other people find passion outside of the science sphere is super important,” Platz says. “I’m excited for the experience, it’s also just really great to network with people in the industry, and I really hope to get some questions answered about the deliverables that they’re asking us for.”
Allison Chacon, a sophomore majoring in Anthropology says that so far, being a part of the Green Teams is a positive experience. “Everybody’s been really nice,” she says. “And I really just want to learn and grow with these people, build connections with them and hopefully find better jobs and grow sustainability with these companies.”
In its eight years, PSEG ISS has been at the forefront of supporting research and community initiatives aimed at tackling climate change in New Jersey, as well as conducting extensive global studies on energy and water. The Green Teams Internship Program has welcomed a total of 370 undergraduate students from surrounding universities and degree programs over the course of the eight years.
Amy Tuininga, director of the PSEG Institute for Sustainability Studies, says the students will spend 10 weeks with their host organizations to develop and deliver high-level sustainability projects that will be presented on August 2 in University Hall’s 7th Floor Conference Center. The paid internships are supported by the National Science Foundation, PSEG Foundation, New Jersey Resources, Stryker, NJ TRANSIT and Hackensack Meridian Health.
“I hope students take excitement from all of the opportunities that they’re going to have this summer, how much they’ll be able to develop, lead and direct their projects, and how much urgency and need there is to address issues and sustainability particularly those that connect to climate change,” Tuininga says.
For more information on the Green Teams initiative, visit PSEG Institute for Sustainability Studies.
Story by Rosaria Lo Presti. Photos by John J. LaRosa.