A Postcard From: Emma Hoffman ’20

Name: Emma Hoffman
Class Year: 2020
Major: Environmental Studies
Hometown: Saratoga, Calif.

Placement: The School District of Philadelphia (SDP)
Job Title: GreenFutures Intern
Location: 440 North Broad St, PhiladelphiaSchool District of Philadelphia

I spent this summer working at the SDP’s Office of Environmental Management & Services as a GreenFutures intern. GreenFutures is the District’s first comprehensive five-year sustainability management plan and has five key focus areas:

  • Education for Sustainability (EfS)
  • Consumption and Waste
  • Energy and Efficiencies
  • School Greenscapes
  • Healthy Schools, Healthy Living

Whiteboard Planning

Most of my time was spent on Education for Sustainability, which focuses on implementing lasting and sustainable practices both inside and outside the classroom, and involves teachers, administrators, students, parents, and the greater community. It’s important to note that EfS is teaching for and not about sustainability. Unfortunately, EfS is commonly mistaken for earth science when in fact it is far more! It recognizes that teaching about climate change is important but setting up the framework for students to recognize patterns, take responsibility, and invision solutions is far more valuable. The core standards emphasize an understanding of and appreciation for systems, networks, social responsibility, and cross-discipline communication, and can be applied to any subject area (just like the work I did in my Climate Change 360 program!) Throughout the summer I put together a slide deck to explain EfS to non-science teachers. Some other projects I got to work on included:

  • Interviewing current teachers on how they’ve “sustainablized” their classrooms using EfS standards (one of whom is a BMC alum!)
  • Researching and writing various posts for the GreenFutures blog (how to pack a zero waste lunch, what is Integrated Pest Management, natural alternatives to chemical bug sprays, etc.)
  • Consolidating a Community Partners list of helpful organizations and contacts
  • Promotional posters (+a blog post) about the Philadelphia Rodent Academy
  • Playing phone tag with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (and eventually locating the correct paperwork for the School District to apply as a business partner for a project on safe routes to school)
  • Writing a Scope of Work document for Student Driven Energy program proposals
  • Assembling sustainability themed book and movie lists
  • Drafting promotional tweets and contributing to the grant proposal for Litterati, a community litter mapping initiative
  • Editing the 2018 GreenFutures Annual Progress Report (look for my name at the end in Acknowledgements!)

In addition to working at the 440 building (named for the District’s street address), I also got to see more of Philly. I met the Philadelphia Eagles at the annual Eagles Playground Build (probably the coolest first day of work an intern has ever had), got a private tour of environmental art included in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Modern Times exhibit, and explored the catacomb-like basement and future vermicomposting site underneath Reading Terminal Market.

Mural This summer was an incredible opportunity that I would never have experienced without Bryn Mawr’s connections to GreenFutures. As a student studying the environment and living with the short-sighted stance of our current federal government, it was relieving and inspiring to see forward-thinking programs and people committed to improving our future. I don’t yet know exactly what I want to be doing with the rest of my life, but I am glad to see that there will be plenty of ways to be involved for sustainability.