Meet our Summer Content Intern, Katie Wilson!

May 10, 2023
Hi! My name is Katie and I’m super excited to work with CEEM this summer. For the past year I’ve been working in political organizing. Before that, I obtained a degree in Global Studies with a concentration in political economy and environmental change from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

Why clean energy

Me at Thingvellir National Park, east of Reykjavik.

My interest in clean energy originated on a summer study abroad program to Iceland, where I visited a geothermal power plant and learned extensively about Iceland’s clean energy industry. Iceland is the world’s leader in clean energy produced per capita, so it was an exciting place to learn about renewable energy. I also got to visit The Alþingi, the Icelandic Parliament, where I learned about how policy is made in Iceland. Seeing the way Iceland is harnessing its natural resources made me want to learn more about what Minnesota’s renewable energy landscape looks like.

In the semester following my Iceland trip I participated in the Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs’ (HECUA) environmental justice program. Through HECUA I visited many environmental organizations around the Twin Cities and learned about the work they were doing. After learning about environmental policy abroad, I enjoyed learning about what organizations in my own community were doing to advance clean energy and other sustainability issues. One of the most memorable field visits we did was to the Shiloh Temple Community Solar Garden (this was developed by CEEM member New Energy Equity!) in North Minneapolis. This was the first time I learned about community solar and it caught my interest because of its ability to make solar more accessible.

What other work have I been a part of?

My study abroad cohort and I at Nakuru National Park

After my HECUA semester, I worked with a few different environmental organizations in the Twin Cities: Environmental Initiative, Climate Generation and Institute on the Environment. Some of the highlights of these experiences included planning roundtable events for stakeholders in a redevelopment project, coordinating a high school summer internship program, and editing a middle school climate change curriculum. I learned a lot about how to communicate about sustainability, the importance of building consensus, and the importance of inviting many perspectives when problem-solving.

In 2020, I spent the spring semester in Nairobi, Kenya, learning about sustainable development. Despite having to return early due to COVID, I had the time of my life, and I also learned a ton. Both inside and out of the classroom I learned about steps Kenya is taking to make its economy as sustainable as possible. When I visited Kwetu Center for Sustainable Development in Mombasa, a training and education center for beekeeping, aquaculture, agriculture and more, I saw firsthand how green initiatives can drive economic development. When I returned, I started working remotely with an organization working to scale up cleaner burning cookstoves in Uganda. Through this experience I learned more about partnership building, applying for grants, and data mapping.

Since graduating last spring I’ve been working on the campaign to implement Ranked Choice Voting (RCV). I spent most of my time last summer and fall chatting with fellow Minnesotans about politics and encouraging them to get out and vote for pro-RCV candidates. This legislative session, I’ve been focused on building and maintaining relationships with our organization’s volunteers and supporting our Ranked Choice Voting bill on its journey through the state legislature. Organizing for RCV is a bit different than other work I’ve done in the past, but it has given me valuable insight to the political landscape of Minnesota and has vastly improved my understanding of the policy making process.

Graduation from the U of MN last may

What else should you know about me?

I was born in Ohio but spent most of my childhood in the southwest Chicago suburbs, with the exception of two years when I lived in Singapore. After high school I spent a year in Portland before transferring to the University of Minnesota. My favorite thing about Minnesota is all of the natural beauty. Before living here I never knew how stunning Minnesota was, but each summer I camp and hike my way through new parts of the state. Aside from that, I spend my free time catching up with friends, cooking, biking and playing pool. I also love to travel whenever and wherever I can.

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