Today we're kicking off a two-part series of short interviews with IMT's great summer interns. In this installment we're talking to Colton Ellison, IMT's Communications and Development Intern for Summer 2015. Colton is from Harwich, Massachusetts, and came to IMT after graduating from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in May with a B.S. in Natural Resources Conservation, with a concentration in Environmental Conservation and a minor in Environmental Science. We're excited that he could join IMT this summer. A fun fact about Colton: Growing up on Cape Cod, without television, he spent his childhood kayaking through estuaries, swimming, and exploring conservation areas.
When and how did you first become interested in environmental and energy issues?
With a prior appreciation for nature, first hearing of global climate change in early high school steered me towards pursuing a career in the remediation of human impact on the environment. However, it was not until university that I was able to effectively direct my passion and motivation with the realization of: if the manner in which you act conflicts with those less environmentally inclined, you will undoubtedly become opposed and gridlocked. The key to overcoming this, and yield real progress, is to harmonize seemingly conflicting values and pursue opportunities that achieve mutually beneficial results.
Name a sustainable or environmentally focused project you have worked on and what you liked about it.
I was in an environmental decision-making and communication lab during my senior year, which was a conglomerate of environmental, sustainability, and psychology-specialized doctoral and masters candidates, with a few undergraduate students. We discussed our environmental and climate change communication projects, as well as overall guidelines. By exposing me to my colleagues’ expertise and methods, this lab helped to expand my knowledge of and appreciation for the use of communications to effectively promote politically and socially sensitive topics.
What direction, or directions, would you like to take your career in?
Throughout university I assumed that I would pursue a federal career, however being exposed to the character of a non-profit, and the enthusiastic, motivated professionals this type of work attracts, I have already developed an appreciation of their potential. That said, I am very much a fan of the mission, strategy, and demeanor here at IMT, and am honored to be a part of it.
You've worked on a variety of projects at IMT, can you describe a couple of them? Which has been your favorite so far and why?
Alongside my administrative duties, I have been working with the District of Columbia Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU) on engaging participants and conducting a survey to capture the personal barriers to energy efficiency measures faced by multifamily housing owners and operators. Second, I have begun helping the City Energy Project (CEP). While I am only just dipping my fingers into this honey pot, I foresee the huge impact that this initiative can have. I appreciate the strategic nature of CEP and being of service to the collaboration of motivated experts directly promoting energy efficiency across the U.S.