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Plant Chicago Summer Interns

Help us welcome our new Plant Chicago summer interns! We are excited to have such a diverse group of college and high school students conducting circular economy research projects and working with businesses inside The Plant.

Alina is a native Chicagoan from the southwest side. She is a rising third year at the University of Chicago where she plans to double major in public policy and comparative race and ethnic studies. Her interests lie in bringing education and the necessary resources to underserved and majority minority communities. On campus Alina helps run Mural Magazine, a bilingual piece, and over the summer is a member of a Mexican folklore dance ensemble. She is excited for the opportunity to be working with Plant Chicago and being a part of its involvement with the community. This summer, Alina will be working closely with the Plant Chicago team to research grant funding, widen our individual donor base and support the organization’s development.

Annie is a rising senior at Dayton University studying Graphic Design, while simultaneously earning her graduate certificate in Nonprofit and Community Leadership. She is interested in the ways in which design interacts with public and urban spaces. Did you know people are more likely to support organizations with appealing designs? For her honors thesis, she is analyzing how environmental, historical, social and cultural landscapes affect one’s perception of place. Through this she hopes to show how design can be a means to promote a better understanding of such spaces. After graduation she hopes to continue her research on applying design in the context of social innovation, sustainability, and international development, especially within refugee reintegration. She is excited to work with Plant Chicago, since she wants to learn how to combine sustainability and circular economies with design in a way that doesn’t just communicate, but also inspires. This summer, Annie will be helping us update, refresh and expand our printed promotional materials, allowing Plant Chicago to better communicate our mission, values and programming.

Charlie is originally from Oak Park, but moved to Pennsylvania to attend Swarthmore College. He is studying civil/environmental engineering with a potential minor in gender and sexuality studies. He has a specific interest in sustainability especially how it relates to food production systems and hopes one day to work finding engineering solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change. Outside of academics Charlie plays for the Swarthmore Ultimate Frisbee team and hosts a radio show on campus. This summer, Charlie will be working to replace the fish food input of the aquaponics farm. Using our food scraps, he will be raising a colony of mealworms to serve as a steady food source for the fish. To provide a nutrient rich diet, he will also be growing duckweed in the farm. He hopes to produce enough food to greatly supplement or even eliminate our current need for commercial fish food.

Clarisel was born and raised in Chicago’s Logan Square area. She is currently studying Mechanical Engineering at Northern Illinois University. She is interested in engineering, of course, but also botany and 3-D visual arts. After graduation, he hopes to pursue a career in sustainable food systems.  She  hopes to find improvements in our aquaponic system design to inspire future Plant Chicago projects. For this summer, she will be investigating the possibility of creating a biologically derived pigment from the Malabar Spinach plants (from the aquaponic farm!) . This pigment will then be used to create a new art piece for the Plant Chicago classroom.

Sam grew up in Milford, Pennsylvania and is attending Lehigh University.  He is pursuing an integrated degree combining Environmental Engineering and Sustainable Development.  His passion for the circular economy revolves around creating a resilient food system that conserves ecosystem services, empowers people with job opportunities and skills training, and ensures food sovereignty. In his spare time, he enjoys singing in his university’s choir, musical theater, interfaith work, and knitting. This summer, Sam will be expanding on our previous work with Biomass Briquettes, this time exploring the usefulness of both the materials as well as the pressing equipment in creating compostable plates out of coffee chaff for events.

In addition to their individual projects, Clarisel, Charlie, and, Sam will be working on designing an outdoor, off-grid education space for K-12 summer education. They will research existing examples of outdoor/off-grid classrooms and growing spaces, conduct interviews with workshop facilitators and students, and observe our existing education programming. This information will help them determine our specific needs, and solutions to those needs, that can be served by such a space. Through an iterative design process, they will hone these concepts into potential solutions that can be used to support our vision and drive funding and donations to help make the project a reality.

To meet our interns and ask questions about their summer projects, visit us any Saturday for Open Farm Hour from 11:30-12:30pm. They will be downstairs in the aquaponic farm available to explain the science of aquaponics and comment on the progress of their research.


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