Internships Allow Sustainability Studies Major to Effect Change Locally

Through the Office of Community Engagement, Lacey Pasco ’23 is working with the Allentown Environmental Advisory Council and Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley.

By: Meghan Kita  Thursday, July 28, 2022 04:37 PM

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Education Manager of Allentown's Bureau of Recycling & Solid Waste Jess Armbruster and Lacey Pasco '23 teach children about recycling at the Summer in the Parks program.

Lacey Pasco ’23 has two interconnected internships via the Office of Community Engagement’s summer Community Internship Program. One is with the Allentown Environmental Advisory Council, and one major project for that group involves working to develop a sustainability metrics dashboard for the city. 

“You cannot make an impactful difference in sustainability if you are unaware of where the organization currently stands,” says Pasco, a sustainability studies major and innovation & entrepreneurship minor. “By tracking data via metrics you can easily track your progress and re-design the pathway if necessary to achieve (and even exceed) your goals.”

The dashboard may include metrics like water use, recycling poundage and number of electric vehicle charging stations; she’s looking to the neighboring cities of Bethlehem and Easton for inspiration on this project and others. Pasco is researching the connection between residents in Allentown with high energy burdens and energy efficient solutions, producing educational materials on nature and sustainability in English and Spanish and teaching children about recycling in collaboration with the parks and waste departments, among other responsibilities.

Pasco’s second internship is with Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley (PNLV), “a Black-led, anti-racist, liberation-based grassroots community organization that is led and staffed by neighborhood residents in Allentown, Pennsylvania,” per its website. PNLV would like to launch PromiseCorps, an AmeriCorps-like model to connect young adults in the community with paid opportunities to explore careers in sustainability, and Pasco has been involved in those discussions.

“It’s very interesting seeing the progress of developing an organization [like PromiseCorps] from the ground up,” Pasco says. “I've created a lot of marketing materials, and I’m going to get a mini-training on writing grants, which is a really important part of this work.”

Pasco is finding that on some of her projects, she’s the expert, and on others, she’s the student: “I’m learning every day, and one of the biggest things I’m learning about is the ability to work with others who may know more,” she says. “I have book knowledge [on sustainability], but practical knowledge can be on a whole different level … You have to be unafraid to reach out and to learn and to listen.”

The Harry C. Trexler Trust provided a grant that allowed for stipends for Community Internship Program participants.