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ASU, EPA partner to engage students in green careers

April 18, 2012

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Arizona State University signed a Memorandum of Understanding designed to increase their outreach to diverse and underserved communities by offering internships, joint projects, and scientific research opportunities to ASU students and faculty. 

“EPA will benefit from the tremendous pool of talent, energy and commitment offered by Arizona State students,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “This collaboration will enhance participation in environmental studies by students from every corner of the state.”

Arizona State University offers leading-edge research and education in fields that impact health, energy and environmental quality. ASU, home to the Global Institute of Sustainability and the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, has earned national recognition for the number of degrees awarded to Native American and Hispanic students. ASU has been able to attract a diverse student body through recruitment statewide and at community colleges.

“ASU is pleased to engage with U.S. EPA, Region 9 programs to bring together great minds to problem-solve some of the grand challenges facing society, such as finding the best methods to bring clean, potable water to our local communities,” said Diane Humetewa, special adviser to the President on American Indian Affairs. “In the process, we hope to build opportunities for students to learn from experienced EPA professionals and to consider careers related to the environment and natural resources.”

Community colleges throughout Arizona feed students into ASU, including Diné College and Tohono O’odham Community College. In the Fall 2011 semester alone, more than 6,700 Arizona students transferred from community colleges to ASU. EPA will work with ASU to enhance outreach efforts in Indian Country, an area the Agency has identified as a priority in its strategic plan.

Arizona is home to more than 250,000 Native Americans, with 20,000,000 acres of tribal land comprising more than 25 percent of the state. Arizona has more Indian Land than any other state.

The agreement between EPA and ASU provides numerous opportunities for both partners including:

• EPA coordination with ASU to enhance ASU’s outreach efforts to recruit diverse students seeking degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics;

• EPA student internships during summer and academic year, and EPA staff members serving as mentors or coaches for ASU students;

• Agency participation in career fairs to make students, faculty and alumni aware of employment opportunities at EPA;

• ASU faculty and student participation in public policy forums, presentations and other events at EPA;

• EPA staff participation in lectures, conferences and other events at ASU;

• EPA expertise for environmental curriculum development and teaching at ASU;

• ASU faculty serving as visiting scientists at EPA, working on joint research projects.

Data from the U.S. Department of Education has shown that the number of students, especially students of color and Native American students, pursuing science and other related technological careers is decreasing. ASU, with a current enrollment of more than 70,000, supports several programs geared towards minority students, and increased its numbers of Native American students from 902 in 1996 to 1372 in 2010.