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Kim Bauer ’08 Interned This Summer with Urbanization NGO

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Kimberly Bauer exposed herself to severe culture shock this summer. The senior from Concord, Mass., spent her spring semester in Botswana and, three days after returning home, moved to New York City to take up her internship with New York-based NGO WildMetro.

Bauer was one of more than 20 Hamiltonians who received college funding to participate in a summer internship. Work experience is becoming more and more necessary for college students but many opportunities are unpaid and require students to fund their own housing and living expenses as well as working for free.

Thanks to alumni and parent donations, Hamilton students can apply for funding to support them while they work in a field of interest with an organization that cannot pay them. Though Bauer works in an unpaid internship, she received a stipend from Hamilton's Joseph F. Anderson Internship Fund, given in honor of a 1944 Hamilton graduate who served the college for 18 years as vice president for communications and development. The fund in his name provides individual stipends to support full-time internships for students wishing to expand their educational horizons in preparation for potential careers after graduation.

WildMetro is the creation of David Berg, a Bronx native who has made it his mission to, as Bauer put it, "save where people live." Berg has made it his mission to protect wild space in cities, and the organization was founded to help define appropriate goals for metropolitan nature protection and to use a variety of common sense methods to achieve those goals. "He really believes that cities are better for the environment than suburbs," Bauer explained.

Bauer was hired by WildMetro to act as an assistant to their research director, but she was also given the opportunity to shadow Berg for a large part of her summer as well as helping with the research project. The research provided her with a number of hands-on opportunities, such as the chance to set cage traps to collect specimens, or cutting invasive park species.

Attending meetings with Berg gave Bauer the chance to see how a small NGO works on a corporate scale. WildMetro is extremely active in New York, and Bauer was present at a number of different conversations, including a meeting with Nature Network, a collection of representatives of nature organizations hired by the New York City Mayor's office to aid in a New York sustainability plan; and a meeting with a group of lawyers planning to sue builders who disobeyed building codes on Staten Island.

Bauer spent her spring semester in Botswana on an ecology and conservation program sponsored by the School of International Training. "Botswana is the ultimate open space," she said of the African country, which has the population of Manhattan in a flat expanse the size of Texas. With 17% of the land protected as parkland and sparsely populated, "Botswana and Manhattan could not be more different." She looked forward to the juxtaposition as a chance to diversity her knowledge of environmental studies, and came out of the summer with a thorough knowledge of the challenges which concern both rural and urban environments.

Although it was difficult to concentrate on issues in such a small and frantically busy organization, Bauer enjoyed her first summer internship. She chose the position because "I hadn't really explored what job opportunities I had" in environmental studies, and found herself getting a rigorous hands-on experience of the opportunities both in research and in a more corporate setting.

Bauer is a member of the women's varsity soccer team and began this year as a leader for the Adirondack Adventure program. She will also be living in the Woollcott Coop this year, and looks forward to more traveling after her graduation in May. 

-- by Lisbeth Redfield

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