Name: Lauren Newman
Project: Environmental Compliance
School: Sewanee: The University of the South
Major: Environment and Sustainability
Over the course of my 11-week summer internship with OFMR, I was given the opportunity to work on several different projects whose main goal was to improve environmental compliance among Smithsonian facilities. These projects entailed updating facility profiles and the environmental SharePoint site, coordinating with SI facilities staff for data calls of regulated assets, building compliance guides, standard operating procedures, and photo-enhanced inventories of assets, conducting internal inspections, and—my personal favorite—aiding with the composting project soon to be started at the Paul E. Garber Facility in Suitland, MD.
Seeing as though I could write a book about all the different projects I worked on and the lessons I’ve learned, I will go in depth about just one of my assignments: The Garber Composting Project. I started working on this effort soon after arriving at the Smithsonian for the summer. At first, the project seemed simple enough: find out how to implement an in-house composter that will process elephant poop from the zoo and food scraps from SI cafeterias. However, soon enough, it proved to be an increasingly difficult task as I began to research and learn more about permit requirements, safety considerations, and the actual logistics about making your own compost. Although the project wasn’t as straightforward as it seemed, I was excited for the potential to make a lasting contribution that would be visible at the Smithsonian for years to come.
Reflecting back on the composting project and all of the other tasks I was assigned, I can definitely say that my summer at the Smithsonian was one well spent. I’ve strengthened and gained several valuable skills such as project planning, writing technical documents, using Microsoft Excel and SharePoint, and communicating with different levels of facilities staff. I will take these skills with me wherever I go and I have the Office of Facilities Management and my supervisor, Alana Olson, to thank!