By Traci Thomas
FRANKFORT, Ky. — While many planned road trips and prepared to endure the heat of summer, a sophomore from the College of Agriculture, Food Science, and Sustainable Systems traveled to the nation’s capital to experience firsthand what it takes to improve the well-being of Americans.
At the close of the spring semester, D’Andre Garrison, who is majoring in Agriculture, Food and Environment, received a phone call from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), hiring him as an intern in the Office of Public Engagement.
The EPA is an agency of the United States federal government that partners with Congress to write and enforce regulations concerning human health and the environment.
With a passion to safeguard America’s natural resources, Garrison was thrilled to accept the internship.
“Considering myself to be an environmentalist, a chance to intern at the headquarters of the EPA was amazing,” he said.
His days included researching previous public health acts passed by Congress, interviewing environmental and religious faith leaders and mentoring high school scientists from across the country.
The truckload of responsibilities, however, did not prevent him from visiting some of Washington’s historical sites. The White House, the National Mall and the Library of Congress, just to name a few, were apart of Garrison’s adventures in the city.
“One of my favorite memories was when I met the EPA administrator, Gina McCarthy, at the national zoo,” said Garrison, who had seen McCarthy speak several times at hearings on Capitol Hill.
Although Garrison had to push his way through McCarthy’s large security guards, he was able to have a conversation with the EPA administrator about the importance of preserving the environment for future generations.
“It’s all one cycle,” Garrison said. “The air, the soil, the water . . . all are connected and it’s important to respect that cycle for the well-being of the planet.”
Garrison spent most of his time working with EPA officials and witnessed the release of the Clean Power Plan, one of the agencies biggest projects that will accelerate the transition to a clean energy future.
The Clean Power Plan was publicly announced on August 3 by President Obama.
Until EPA officials developed the plan, limits on carbon pollution were nonexistent in the United States.
According to the EPA, power plants are the nation’s largest contributors to climate change, accounting for nearly one-third of all carbon pollution emissions.
But McCarthy ensures by 2030, the Clean Power Plan will bring a healthier future and stronger economy by reducing carbon emissions 32 percent below levels calculated in 2005.
“The Clean Power Plan will reduce the threat of global warming and health risks associated with air pollution, such as asthma and lung cancer,” Garrison said.
Garrison is expecting to return to the EPA in January 2016 to work with the Science Advisory Board. Currently, Garrison works as an undergraduate research assistant with Dr. Buddhi Gyawali, assistant professor in the College of Agriculture, Food Science, and Sustainable Systems. He conducts experiential research about water pollution using geographic information system (GIS) techniques.