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Environmental Intern Program Celebrates 25 Years

July 15, 2015   By Kevin F. Langston in Education

Several years ago, Santee Cooper polled the people of South Carolina to gauge how much they knew about us.

One of the biggest takeaways was most South Carolinians didn't know a whole lot about Santee Cooper unless they were either an electric customer or a fan of lakes Marion and Moultrie — commonly called the "Santee Cooper Lakes" or, simply, "Santee Cooper" among boaters and anglers.

Santee Cooper is much more than an electric and water utility. Our mission is to be the state's leading resource for improving the quality of life for the people of South Carolina through:

  • Producing and distributing low-cost, reliable energy, water, and other essential services
  • Providing excellent customer service
  • Operating according to the highest ethical standards
  • Maintaining a quality workforce
  • Being a leader in economic development
  • Being a steward of the environment

So, we set out 25 years ago to educate the people of the Palmetto State about the work we do to improve their quality of life — particularly in the area of environmental stewardship. The Environmental Intern Program was one of the initiatives born from that goal. Twenty-five years and 261 interns later, it's one of the more unique and engaging internship opportunities for South Carolina's undergraduates.

In designing the internship we wanted a good representation of students from throughout South Carolina. Twelve undergraduates are chosen from South Carolina colleges and universities: One student is appointed from each of the state's seven congressional districts, and five are selected at large by members of South Carolina's federal delegation, the President Pro Tempore of the South Carolina Senate, the Speaker of the South Carolina House of Representatives, and the Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina.

The intent is to give the interns an in-depth and hands-on understanding of the importance of balancing environmental issues with meeting electric demands, and to show how that electricity is produced and delivered to homes, businesses and industries throughout the state. After a two-week orientation and team-building period, the interns rotate through nine key work areas that show the scope of our environmental-stewardship efforts including air and water quality, renewable energy, mosquito abatement, lakes management, corporate recycling, and right-of-way management.

When the interns' 10 weeks with us are over, our hope is we've got a group of new ambassadors who can help us tell our story and who can excel in the next phase of their lives. We've seen many interns realize their great potential and go on to careers with the U.S. Department of State, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, the Chevron Corporation (and even Santee Cooper), to name a few.

For more information about the Environmental Intern Program, or if you're an undergraduate who's interested in applying for next summer, visit us online.