2020 PFIG Recipient Kathy Wei

Jessica Meyers

Journal Entry #1

Hello! My name is Kathy Wei and I am a rising second year. This summer, I am interning at the Clean Air Council in Philadelphia. The Clean Air Council is the city’s oldest environmental non-profit and fights for issues such as clean energy, sustainable transportation, and public health. I am interning in the legal department under a staff attorney and alongside one other intern, a rising senior at Franklin and Marshall.  I am responsible mostly for researching issues currently covered by the Council and writing up what I find for various projects. This has included writing an op ed on the dangers of tear gas as riot control, writing letters to celebrities urging the elimination of single use plastics in Hollywood, and researching the history of the Clean Air Council for publicity use.

This internship was moved online because of the novel coronavirus, so I am not able to work as I would in the Philadelphia office. Under normal circumstances, I would be able to work in the office with the rest of the staff and attend meetings and hearings with others, many in City Hall. However, I am still able to be part of the team by attending virtual staff meetings weekly where each department shares important updates for that week. Everyone is very friendly and helpful and I really enjoy the office culture here.

Some of my goals for this summer are to gain a better understanding of environmental issues in my community, learn about the work an environmental lawyer does, and hone my skills in effective environmental advocacy. I have already learned a lot in how the legal side of the environmental fight works and how much thought is put into every action. All of the staff is very helpful in answering questions and helping me have an informative experience that prepares me for my future. I am very pleased with my work and its impact and I look forward to the rest of my time here.

Journal Entry #2

Hello again! I have about a month left in my internship with the Clean Air Council and am busy with many different projects. Recently my co-intern and I have mostly been writing a history of air quality issues and improvements since the founding of the Clean Air Council. We have researched from a variety of sources to compile an encyclopedia-like entry on the Clean Air Council’s history and works. Our supervisor is going to have us be the focus of next week’s staff meeting so we can show the entire staff what we have written and have them edit it until it’s ready for publication.

Another project I am starting to work on is figuring out outreach for getting more youth involved in climate action and voting. Since my co-intern and I are in college, the staff has asked for our insight in getting people our age involved in politics. We also as an organization have been discussing how to reach out to more minority groups and get them involved in the organization. The last staff meeting discussed how hiring processes tend to go through employees’ networks and interns, which can result in a very homogenous office composition. We have been trying to brainstorm ways to break out of this structure, including actively recruiting minorities to be part of the climate conversation.

I really enjoy the office culture and am feeling very welcomed by the staff at the Clean Air Council. Everyone is very passionate about what they do and I have even found out that some of the staff volunteer with the same groups that I do. I am building on my research and writing skills as well as getting a good look into the daily work of an environmental lawyer, as my supervisor invites us to listen in on many of his meetings and hearings. I believe I am also gaining a better understanding of the political side of the environmental movement and how to be a better activist by using certain advocacy techniques and pushing certain legislations that will make the most impact.

My summer with the Clean Air Council has been extremely fulfilling so far and I will be sad to only have a month left here!

Journal Entry #3

My time with the Clean Air Council is coming to an end and I am so sorry to go! I’ve really been enjoying my work here and I have been learning so much about environmental and political issues in my area. The staff have been very welcoming and willing to help me learn about their jobs. My co-intern and I have recently finished up two projects that involve working alongside the rest of the staff at the Clean Air Council and I have really appreciated their feedback and support along the way.

We recently took our write-up on the history of the Clean Air Council that we did last month and turned it into a draft for a full Wikipedia entry. The skeleton of the draft was written and formatted by me and the other intern, but we have shared the draft with the entire office to work on. Last week, my co-intern and I got the chance to present our draft at the full-office staff Zoom meeting. We talked about the work we had already done on the entry draft, shared the research we gathered on the process of creating a Wikipedia article, and asked for everyone’s help in making sure the draft was as comprehensive and accurate as possible.

We also have been working to take the research we had done on encouraging youth voters and create an actual Instagram campaign for voter education and encouraging Pennsylvania youth to vote. This was done by researching voting rules and deadlines in the state and creating graphics to post on the official Clean Air Council Instagram account. The first graphic we made went over how to register to vote and request a mail-in/absentee ballot as well as the deadlines for applying for them. We are also thinking about creating graphics that educate on local issues affected by elections and which officials are elected. Since my last day is coming up, I won’t be able to help in the actual execution of this project but I am happy that my research and graphic drafts were instrumental in its creation.

I have learned so much during this summer and it has convinced me that I want to pursue environmental law. I even formally declared my major because of how much I loved it here! I am already thinking about returning her nest summer or volunteering during the school year, since I will be staying in the city. I am so happy to have had this experience!