Kwolz's Adventures in Saving the World

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SLE³RF 2010

Summer Learning Experience in Energy, Environment, Restoration, and Food.

What is it?

This is a self-created program that involves spending my summer in southern Wisconsin to learn everything I can about, and get hands on experience with, my passions in sustainability. I will be collaborating with many awesome people for a variety of learning experiences.

How did I come up with this?

After only a year as a college engineering student, I have realized that the traditional and most accepted summer activity expected of us is to get internship with a traditional engineering firm in our field of study. Attempting to fulfill this stereotype, I went to all the company presentations, career fairs, and the like…leaving completely unsatisfied.

This conclusion really didn’t surprise me: I am NOT a traditional engineer looking to follow the traditional track to a traditional job with a traditional firm. Heck, I’m probably the complete opposite of that description! My academic pursuits certainly stray from any traditional track, so why shouldn’t my summer?! After this epiphany, I decided to wipe the slate clean, abandon the search for an unfitting internship, and really contemplate what I wanted to accomplish over the summer. The underlying passions that motivate my educational pursuits can be generalized by the word “sustainability,” but this alone is a bit vague. Currently, I think I can summarize my major interests with the following:

  • Sustainable Agriculture
  • Community Sustainability
  • Engineering & Ecology
  • Renewable Energy
  • Permaculture
  • Habitat Restoration

After living in SE Wisconsin at my family’s cottage every summer for the last nine years, I have realized that southern Wisconsin is a hotbed for the activities listed above. This past winter, I finally put two and two together: I want a explore these passions in real life, while getting hands on experience and making an actual difference as I’m doing it!

To make a long story short, I’ve spent the last two months reaching out to everyone that I could about this plan. My network has grown exponentially in this short time and I have found the most amazing opportunities waiting for me. None of these opportunities involved data entry at a traditional engineering firm. Instead, I came up with SLE3RF, Summer Learning Experience in Energy, Environment, Restoration, and Food:

Using my family’s cottage as my home base, I will engage in a variety of “learning experiences” at several different locations. My main activities will include collaboration with:

  • the many people involved at an amazing “farm” that incubates sustainable agriculture, food, and energy projects (aka “Utopia”)
  • a large and successful agroforestry-based farm (aka “The Agroforest”)
  • new permaculture-based homesteaders and their evolving projects
  • the local farmers market and its vendors
  • local sustainability and activist groups
  • mother nature while growing my own vegetable garden

Notice the word “collaboration”. Nothing here is for pay. The only things that will be exchanged are knowledge, experience, and some good old-fashioned work. These experiences will be innovative and enlightening, not orderly and confined. Traditional? No. The Perfect Summer? Yes.

Hear me speak about my philosophy, my story, and my summer here.

5 Responses to “SLE³RF 2010”

  1. Joan said

    I admire your choice of a non-traditional internship. I also like the SLE 3 RF (I don’t know how to do the uppercase 3.)When so you start?
    Grandma B.

  2. Can’t wait to hear about this! I’m glad you’re making your own path, this is awesome!

  3. amankapur said

    I’m really happy to hear about this Kevin. Go for it, and go hard.

    Can’t wait to hear more.

  4. Tracey Johnson said

    I’m always interested in the activities of the iFoundry students. Enjoy your summer!

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