Earth Optimism Internships for High School Students

The Smithsonian Institution is committed to addressing global climate change and its accompanying issues of sustainability, conservation and environmental justice. Through the Earth Optimism Initiative, we gather, amplify and share stories of successes at every scale, to inspire and be copied by others.

Young people are a cornerstone of this effort. The Smithsonian engages with young people to encourage and support their ideas for sustainable solutions in their own homes, schools and communities.

Through two educational projects in 2020-2021, Smithsonian Affiliations has worked with 18 Affiliate partner organizations in different cities across the United States to hear from young people about their ideas and action plans for addressing climate change wherever they live. These internships are designed for students to tell and share their peers’ successes, and help the Smithsonian to understand the best ways to support teen changemakers.

The goal of this internship is to create a teen-produced composite video, not more than 3 minutes, that documents the environmental work students have done in the 18 cities that partnered with the Smithsonian in 2020-2021. The short film should tell the story of these student projects, highlighting how the solutions are being executed in different communities.

Up to 4 interns will be chosen from Smithsonian Affiliate cities to work as a group to create the video. It will contain video footage from student presentations and student-made videos, and still images and pdfs of social media posts, promotional flyers, and community projects. The filmmaking team can decide also to interview students and their mentors. Depending on the group’s skill sets, animation, music and other items might be included.

Details:

  • Each intern will work as part of the group for up to 10 hours per month from March to June 2021 and receive a $600 stipend.
  • Interns are required to attend two meetings per month with Affiliations staff mentors to provide feedback and discuss progress.
  • Although the intern group will be conceptualizing and creating the finished piece together, Smithsonian staff mentors will be available for questions and to provide guidance throughout the internship.
  • The following skills (one or more) are most desirable:
    • video editing
    • script writing
    • animation
    • sound editing
    • visual storytelling

All student interns will receive certificates from the Smithsonian Institution, and letters of recommendation if desired. Their work will be shared on Smithsonian websites, and they may be asked to present their work to Smithsonian staff. A letter of recommendation from their mentor at an Affiliate organization is required.

In January 2021, 9 teams of teens in different cities across the United States presented action plans for addressing environmental issues of concern in their communities. Each team was given a small cash award to execute their plan, and asked to share their results. The goal of this internship will be to document those projects.

Details:

  • Intern will act as a liaison to each of the 9 teen teams, and to work with the Smithsonian to design stories that share their successes on websites, blogs, social media, reports and videos. (This internship is limited to applicants from the 9 Affiliated-partners that presented action plans to the Smithsonian.)
  • Based on this experience, this intern will advise the Smithsonian on how to strengthen its support of student-led environmental action in the future.
  • This internship will be 14-weeks long, with a $1200 stipend, and a small allotment for any necessary software licenses (such as InDesign, etc.) The internship will run from approximately March to July.
  • The following skills (one or more) are most desirable:
    • Logical Organization of data (i.e., images, statistics, media)
    • Clear Communication (in emails, on Zoom, with peers and adults)
    • Passion for supporting teen environmental action.

Student interns receive certificates from the Smithsonian Institution, and a letter of recommendation if desired. The work will be shared on Smithsonian websites, and intern may be asked to present their work to Smithsonian staff if available. A letter of recommendation from their mentor at an Affiliate organization is required.

DEADLINE IS MARCH 1, 2021

What you need:

  1. A recommendation letter from a Smithsonian Affiliate mentor
  2. A few examples of your relevant work (from school, volunteer, service projects, etc.)
  3. Answers to a few essay questions

If you have any additional questions, email Jennifer, BrundageJ@si.edu.