If you were to design a city that vividly illustrates some of the worst threats to the environment — from the drought to rapid development to air quality concerns — you might well end up with Las Vegas. The American Lung Association recently ranked the city ninth for high ozone days. Lake Mead, 25 miles south, is at less than half of its capacity.
Those are the kinds of crises Naomi Lewis, a 20-year-old senior, grew up with. A high school environmental studies class “totally opened my eyes to how we’re destroying the planet,” she said. She chose environmental studies as her major when she entered UNLV, and this spring interned at Clean Energy Project, a Las Vegas environmental nonprofit.
She learned about the opportunity from an email jobs listing. During the internship, which ran from February to June, Lewis mainly worked in outreach; she collected signatures for various initiatives the organization backs, such as support for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. “I’ve learned a lot about environmental policy and laws at UNLV,” she said, “so that’s definitely helped with this internship.”
With her newly minted bachelor's degree, Lewis said she wants to work for environmental nonprofits as a career “mostly because I am totally into environmental initiatives and the nonprofits that call for them,” she said.
Whatever her future holds, she’ll hold tight to the passion for environmental issues and was gratified to confirm that she could work in organizations where her co-workers’ passion matched her own. “My supervisors really care about the work they do,” she said, which made her care more about the work she’s doing, and is yet to do. But her coworkers also taught her about the business functions that make nonprofits successful, which is why she is targeting her career on sustainable development projects. "They taught me a lot about how an organization is run."
Learn more about internships through UNLV Career Services.