When I accepted an internship at the Dane County Office of Energy and Climate Change, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Well, now that the semester has flown by and my internship comes to a close, I am thankful to say I was able to contribute to many different projects in the Office, learn more about the field of energy, and experience an exciting time for energy policy nationally and in Dane County!
One of the things I enjoyed the most about my time was getting to work on communications regarding the Inflation Reduction Act (hopefully you’ve heard lots about it by now!). My educational background is in public policy, so it was interesting to witness and partake in the local implementation of a large federal policy. After all, it’s not the president who comes to tell you how to take advantage of tax credits in Dane County, it’s the awesome people like Kathy and Mel! I’m excited to see how the OECC continues the momentum of encouraging local adoption and how Dane County residents step up to the plate.
Another thing I worked on during my time was writing success stories and blog posts; before this, I wasn’t aware of the awesome projects happening in Dane County focused on energy efficiency, sustainability, and mitigating climate change! I learned about some of them from the people who knew them best— I got to tour and learn about Bayview, the affordable housing community currently undergoing redevelopment with a focus on efficiency. This was of special interest to me because I hope to work in urban planning and I have a special interest in housing; getting to see a community that is leading the way for sustainable affordable housing was super cool! However, there are even more projects that filled my sense of curiosity about efficient development. CUNA Mutual’s new office building among them, Dane County is lucky to house organizations that are willing to lead the way on energy efficiency. I enjoyed learning some of the more technical building information too— (do you know what a Passive House is or how a heat pump works?). Getting a finger on the pulse of sustainable development in the county helped me to understand the types of projects that are protecting against climate change, and distilling that information to Dane County residents was a fun task. Another thing I enjoyed about this work is that the OECC focuses on highlighting the positive stories of climate action rather than the negative news; as an eternal optimist, I appreciate that the Office takes on this lens to encourage action in a positive way.
On that note, I got to help kick off the 2023 Climate Champions application cycle! Getting to celebrate the awesome work of organizations in Dane County provides an opportune moment to reflect on the ways that the county is leading the way for the state. I’m hoping this cycle of Climate Champions will help illustrate the variety of ways others in Dane County can work towards climate action in a more feasible way than ever with the IRA. It truly was an exciting time to do this work in Dane County!
As I celebrate my graduation from UW-Madison and move out of Madison and into the next chapter of my life, I will take the lessons I’ve learned from the OECC wherever I go. I’m thankful for the opportunity to work with such a great team, and I’m excited for future interns who will make the most of that opportunity as well!
Emma’s love of nature and interest in encouraging equitable protection against climate change has brought her to an internship at the OECC. A senior at UW-Madison studying education policy and public policy, she is excited to learn more about the implementation of the Climate Action Plan along with the communication and engagement strategies of the Office. Emma is eager to make the most of her last semester in Madison by taking lots of walks and bike rides through the Arboretum, trying out new restaurants, and spending time with friends.
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