* This article was featured on the Building a Better Iowa Stories Blog on Oct. 4, 2023
Five students have left their mark at UNI’s Iowa Waste Reduction Center (IWRC) this summer, working across various internal and community-based projects. Paige German, Kendall Lienmann, Makayla Gasper, Eliana Hornbuckle, and Haley Christoffer may be from different universities, but they now have something in common: they all built a better Iowa through their work for the IWRC.
The IWRC provides students with real-life experience no matter the major being pursued. From STEM majors to business majors, the IWRC has opportunities to fulfill a student's interests and has a network of professionals in various fields and within the community that can jumpstart any career.
Two of the five summer interns have been working for the IWRC since the beginning of the year and will continue their internships throughout the 2023-24 school year.
Table of Contents
- Paige: Spreading the word about sustainability
- Kendall: Discovering career opportunities
- Haley: Revamping military painting facilities
- Makayla: Reducing food waste in the community
- Eliana: Educating underserved communities
Paige German, [Interactive Digital Studies, ‘25] of Clarion, found her Marketing and Communications internship on Handshake, an application for UNI students to find jobs across campus and in the community. She applied when she noticed the high pay and her combined interests of marketing and recycling. In the office, German runs the IWRC’s Instagram (@iwrc_uni), Facebook (Iowa Waste Reduction Center), Twitter (@IowaEnviro), and LinkedIn (Iowa Waste Reduction Center). She also helps with graphic design projects and the IWRC’s monthly newsletter.
Graphic design sample by Paige German.
German loves working for a center that shares the same values of waste reduction as her. From this internship, she has been provided with creative freedom, allowing her to try new things and work with a live audience through social media.
“I get to push out that message in creative and visually pleasing perspectives of how we can make the earth a better place in our businesses and in our homes and personal lives,” says German.
Kendall Lienemann, [Biology and Business, ‘25] of Dows, wanted to learn more about careers in the sustainability field when she discovered the IWRC’s open position for an environmental intern. She has spent her time working across the center. She created a deconstruction calculator and a self-audit guide for breweries, and has prepped and participated in two brewery audits. Lienemann loves the relaxed and growth-mindset environment that the IWRC provides for her.
“I’m learning more than work,” which Lienemann values in an internship. “The IWRC provides me with a stepping stone into my career.”
Three other summer interns were attracted to the IWRC for internships that fit their interests and their lifestyles despite coming from separate universities.
From Iowa State University, Haley Christoffer [Landscape Architecture, ‘25] of Waterloo, found a summer position that fits her skills as a graphic design intern. Christoffer spent her time developing a new brand for IWRC’s STAR4D military painter training program and designing murals (pictured at the top of this page) to be installed in the lobby of the PACE building where the training program is housed.
”This internship was great for my college experience because of the flexibility and relaxed environment. I appreciated how helpful my peers and the full-time staff have been,” said Christoffer.
From Wentworth Institute of Technology, Makayla Gasper [Biological Engineering, ‘26] of Manchester, worked as an environmental intern.
“In high school, I contacted Jenny Trent to assist in implementing a compost system at my school,” said Gasper. “When I went to college, Jenny helped me with a class project. I got the chance to keep learning from the IWRC team when Jenny offered me a job to work with composting for the summer.”
During her time at the IWRC, Gasper worked with the Regional Partnership for Food Waste Solutions project. She conducted research on viable Iowa communities for potential trainings and workshops regarding the implementation of compost systems. In addition, she created a collaborative map demonstrating all the compost sites in Iowa.
From Brown University, Eliana Hornbuckle [Engineering and Urban Studies, ‘25] of Nevada, also met Trent in high school while influencing her school to be more sustainable by completing a food waste audit. When she was in college, Trent held a composting training that Hornbuckle attended. They connected for a second time and Trent offered her a job at the IWRC as an environmental intern for the following summer.
At the IWRC, Hornbuckle spent her time working with the Community Gardens and Farmers Market Compost and Donation Project. She completed research on communities that have a population of less than 5,500 people who might be interested in food collection and composting. Following her research, Hornbuckle contacted and visited communities, collecting food at farmers markets to be donated to the local food pantry. On a later date, they held a composting workshop to teach those involved with the community gardens to turn their waste into compost.
“This has been a really good opportunity to learn a lot about a lot of different things,” said Hornbuckle. “I was able to make a difference in real communities.”
The IWRC is devoted to environmental consulting, assistance, training and education for entities with environmental impact or need. No matter the major, school, or background, the IWRC can take any student and transform them into a professional who contributes to BCS’s mission of building a better Iowa.
Learn more at iwrc.uni.edu.
UNI Business & Community Services