Intern Spotlight

Dec 31, 2018

Coal River Mountain Watch hosts interns and volunteers who contribute to our work. Here's what one of our summer 2018 interns, Austin Stewart, had to say about his experience:

As graduation neared in my final semester at Indiana State University, I was uncertain of whether I wanted to go straight to law school, take a year off to travel, or work somewhere for a year. I was driving from Indiana to Washington, DC, through wild and wonderful West Virginia for a job interview, with no working radio and the windows down, when I started thinking about how beautiful the Appalachian Mountains were. When I reached my destination at my aunt and uncle's house, where I was staying for the weekend, I started googling things about the mountain range and what was being done to protect it. I had previously worked with a land grant agency, so I was looking at easements and groups who were trying to protect the natural landscape. I happened upon Coal River Mountain Watch's website, and I looked up their interships tab, the same tab where you are reading this right now, I assume.

I sent the email. I reached out to the organization and decided I wanted to try and make a difference in something I care about. I found a group of people who have dedicated their entire lives to making a difference in their community. People who stand up to corporations that treat our environment like a landfill. People who see the wrong that is being done in their community and are willing to fight until their last breath. I guarantee you will not be disappointed if you also take that leap of faith and volunteer with the organization. I was an English major in Undergrad and was not entirely sure what I would be doing while I was there, but when I arrived, I found something to do. I had previously worked doing land grants, and I noticed the organization needed more staff dedicating their time to writing funding grants. I offered up my idea, and they were thrilled that I was willing to take on that kind of project. They helped me gain a new skill for my professional development.

No matter what your experience is, you can make a difference. I got to see a whole new world I would have never known had I not sent that first email. I also worked with CRMW's Tadpole Project cleaning up the community and streams, and I lived in the solar-powered Judy Bonds Center for Appalachian Preservation with a hemp farm in the back yard. I am still helping write grants and any other work CRMW sends my way today, and I hope to be doing so in the future as well because I found a purpose, and you can too.  I will be attending law school this fall and hoping to do environmental law work in the future because of my experiences at Coal River Mountain Watch.