The Material Resource Sustainability Internship
The Material Resource Sustainability Internship (MRSI) began in the summer of 2009 as a means to develop volunteers capable of promoting proper recycling in DC schools. Enrollees in the District of Columbia Recycling Coaches Internship, as it was called, were exposed to resource management theory, experts, resources and facilities typically known only to industry "insiders." Learn about our partners.
The MRSI concept was brought to the District of Columbia Public Schools Office of the Chancellor by the DC Department of Public Works Office of Recycling with support from the Washington Convention and Sports Authority (now: EventsDC) and The Institute for Local Self-Reliance, as well as the generous participation of dozens of industry colleagues.
We want to see healthier communities. Not long into the future, we will hit a material and cultural wall once our basic resources become increasingly scarce (think clean water for example, which is subject to reductions from global climate change, manufacturing needs, energy extraction (frakking and mountaintop removal), river-borne litter, debris, etc.) … to curb our society’s appetite for consumption.
Simple carrots and sticks are not good enough. Some people just don’t care... But you do!
Enforcement doesn’t go far enough (think of the diminishing role of the EPA, these days). Incentives don’t come along often enough (paying people to conserve?). Education is what’s required. An educated community comes about via educated children who practice the right habits at school, educated businesses who learn to become more efficient, and educated politicians who understand that healthy communities require educated, visionary leaders. All of these stakeholders have a role to play in a system providing access, mastery and context to a better way of doing things.Graduates of the MRSI are the engines that move these opportunities forward.
In the three years previous sessions, the MRSI has been a critical preparatory step in the careers of many of our alumni. Successful trainees have sought and earned environmental internships with Keep America Beautiful as well as the White House, a Master’s Degree in Public Policy at UC Berkeley College, and paid consulting for the District of Columbia's City Council. One alumna joined a major, regional non-profit,The Alice Ferguson Foundation, quickly becoming a sought-after Program Coordinator, directly mentoring the 2010 MRSI class who themselves launched the new Office of Sustainability at Howard University. Alumni have presented to the Washington, DC Green Festival; testified before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; and delivered the story of their experiences before the attendees of Keep America Beautiful's National Conference.
Entering its fourth season, the program has gained regional and national visibility from Florida to California, having benefitted from direct partnerships with over a dozen organizations along the way and countless industry colleagues.