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TropEco Interns testimonials

Our past Interns share some of their experiences from their Interns placements.

'My name is Alison Celigoi and I am a study abroad student from Pennsylvania, USA. I am a Global Health Studies major and Theatre and Economics minors, heading into the last year of my undergraduate career. I have always been passionate about the environment, so when I first heard of the organization known as TropEco, I knew that I wanted to get more involved. I was immediately drawn to the position titles, “Sustainable Development Goals Intern”. The Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, is a United Nation based program that almost every country in the world has committed to complete by 2030. There are 17 goals ranging from reducing inequalities, providing clean water, and creating sustainable economic growth. Ever since I learned about these goals back in my first year at university, I knew that I wanted to spend my life spreading awareness for the goals and helping them be completed.

Unbeknownst to me, James Cook University was actually the first university in the world to sign on to uphold the SDGs back in 2016! The university’s commitment to the goals is wonderful, but not many people on JCU’s campus know about the goals at all. For my internship, I wanted to be a face for TropEco and the SDGs, so I held weekly stalls outside various locations on campus in order to educate the campus community on the importance of the SDGs. Alongside my boss, Adam Connell, we asked people to put a silver dot on the goal that meant the most to them. It was so interesting to see the distribution of the dots whenever we were finished, as I was able to compile all of the numbers into a spreadsheet and analyse the patterns among the data. Among the 222 people surveyed on the Townsville campus over 5 weeks, 14% of people said that Quality Education was the most important goal. From this information, JCU will be able to assure the faculty and students that Quality Education is being performed at this university and that we are creating the next generation of students who will go on to change the world.

Because of my internship with TropEco, I have fallen in love with JCU and everything that it has to offer. Working with Adam Connell has been such a rewarding experience as his expertise and light-hearted humour has helped me to grow as a person as well as a researcher. I know now that I am going into the right line of work and because of TropEco, I have gained confidence in my future.'

portrait of Katie Allison

'My name is Katie Allison and I am a TropEco intern from the US. When I heard of JCU’s dedication to the Sustainable Development Goals, I knew I wanted to work with TropEco. My project consisted of a comparison between the SDGs and the courses taught at JCU. After a keyword search of all the SDGs against the undergraduate and graduate courses, we were able to see which SDGs correlated most to JCUs current teaching methods and available degrees.

My experience with TropEco has been amazing. I have truly felt like I made a difference on campus and that my data collected will impact not only now, but the future. I plan on taking this project back home with me to North Carolina since my home university does not participate in the SDGs. I’m very thankful for Kerryn and Adam as they have both assisted me through the processes of the project and the application back home. I look forward to spreading the idea of a worldwide language of sustainability to my little town of Cullowhee.'

'I’m Alyx, a Master’s in Marine Biology student from the US. Growing up I was always environmentally conscious, and would often go around my town cleaning up trash. I remember when family asked why, I would explain that I didn’t want the plastic straw to end up in a whale’s blowhole. So when I moved to Australia and realised the amount of improper disposal of plastic, I decided to approach TropEco about what we could do to help with this problem on campus. I was reminded of the town I was living in and how all of the beach restaurants had banned plastic straws and refused or switched to reusable options and thought it would be a simple switch JCU could do that would make a great impact. I’m so proud to have started this movement through the Interns program, leading to JCU being the first university to be straw free and hope we can inspire other schools and businesses to do the same.'

'Studying a bachelor of Environmental and Indigenous studies along with my background in tour guiding, I felt the need to be a part of spreading the word of sustainability right away. There are many simple changes we can make in order to live more sustainably and I found TropEco were leading the way on campus.

I began my internship working alongside Adam Connell to promote and encourage staff members to recycle and compost correctly in their staff areas. It is hard to believe even those working at a university need the motivation of a challenge to ensure they put their waste in the correct bin. However, this showed me creative engagement starts the conversation and leads to positive outcomes.

With an interest in Indigenous practices I wanted to use the University's resources to spread the local knowledge to the upcoming generation. From here a partnership with TropEco JCU, local Indigenous Elders and PCYC was created.

By being actively involved and showing initiative,TropEco has been the perfect way for me to connect with staff, students and outside organisations in order to help spread the word of sustainability.'

'I learned about many difference maintenance and conservation methods for Australian flora and fauna. I was able to be a part of a lot of hands-on work that taught me practical field work skills, and identification methods of native life.'

'During my Internship I learnt how to fix the most basic things on a bike, as well as dealing with some more advanced bike issues. I also helped with TropEco events and worked in the campus greenhouse. I met like-minded people and made a few really good friends. I have had a great time in the bike workshop, and I have had the most amazing boss. Everyone I have met have been positive and very knowledgeable about what they are doing. I really liked the many different opportunities available for interns.'