Internship inspires student to be champion for the environment
by Megan Clancy

Jennifer Goldbetter, an international studies major from Chicago, Ill. gained knowledge in global environmental issues and experience in the world trade market through a 10-week internship with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this past spring.

Jennifer’s internship was in two divisions of the EPA: the Office of Environmental Information, with a specialization in information technology, and the Field and External Affairs Division, with a specialization in communications and outreach.

Initially, Jennifer’s role was to help process manufacturers’ applications for new chemicals used in a variety of settings— agriculture, for example—and to ensure that the applicants followed regulations for product safety. “Once a product receives approval, it will have EPA’s registration number on its container,” she explained. A product that does not bear the EPA stamp may be illegal for sale. Jennifer also learned about the global trade market for products that use chemicals, such as how other countries are required to follow U.S. chemical tolerance rules if they want to import their crops to this country.

Jennifer then transitioned to Field and External Affairs, whose mission is to educate companies and individuals on how to work safely with chemicals. For example, farmers who use pesticides and fertilizers containing chemicals on their fields are advised to follow safety procedures, such as changing clothes before returning home from work.

Using her Gallaudet connections, Jennifer also took on a project at Gallaudet focused on the instruction labels found on insect repellent containers. She led a “Social Environmental” class and a “Senior Seminar” class. Jennifer passed out bug sprays and asked the students to read the labels and tell her if they understood how long a dose of the spray would repel pests: The students had difficulty finding clear answers. “This is important because bug sprays help prevent diseases," said Jennifer.

The two classes worked together to create graphics for bug sprays that would clearly convey messages about the product. The graphics include symbols of disease-transmitting insects like ticks or mosquitoes with the number of hours of protection underneath. The bottles also must have clear visual instructions that customers can easily follow. The policies and regulations for the graphics are still under development with the EPA.

Now that her internship is complete, Jennifer, who graduated in May, is searching for a job where she can apply her skills and interest in saving the environment. “I would like to work for USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development) or EPA,” said Jennifer, “and focus on the deaf community, like educating deaf farmers about chemicals.”
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