Laurine was the fifth student in an exchange program between Ecology Ottawa and Sciences Po, a prestigious French university. The language challenge, the new city, the overwhelming workload and the looming winter did not stop Laurine from making the most of her internship.
“Before I applied, I hardly knew what type of work Ecology Ottawa does. I was expecting an organization working around environmental issues, but I learned very quickly that Ecology Ottawa is more than just an average environmental organization.”
After one day of training on organizing theory and Ottawa politics, Laurine was put to work translating an email to 25,000 supporters from English to French. “Fast-paced is the first word I would use to describe Ecology Ottawa. This place is always buzzing with activities, especially around events! EcoFest, Ecology Ottawa’s 10th anniversary celebration last October, was a perfect example. When I arrived, it was all hands on deck preparing for the event. Volunteers spread out across the office making signs, emailing vendors, putting up posters, calling to sell tickets. Working on five projects at once is quite challenging, but it is what I will miss the most about this place.”
Laurine then took on the EcoFest silent auction fundraiser, and managed a team that reached out to over 200 local businesses, solicited over 100 donated items and coordinated the biddings. Ultimately, Laurine and her team raised over $4,000 from the silent auction.
“The organization also has an incredible amount of trust in its volunteers and interns, which I find is the key to their success. Ecology Ottawa gives its volunteers the opportunity to take responsibilities when they are ready for it! It is a thrilling experience taking on the leadership role, but the rest of the team are always supportive and have so much faith in your ability.”
The Ecology Ottawa team is no stranger to throwing our interns into the deep end, but not many swim right back up and ask, “What else do you have?” Laurine came in one day with a hand drawing of the EcoFest floorplan and asked to take on more graphic design responsibilities. Before we knew it, she designed a beautiful program for the event, drew a ticket sale thermometer for the office, and mastered a graphic design program she had never used before.
“Challenges define my experience with Ecology Ottawa. Whether it was doing a last-minute translation, leading an area of EcoFest, creating a survey for Active City, or helping with graphic design, there hasn’t been any week without a new challenge for me and that’s what makes this such an intense and rewarding internship! Ecology Ottawa also gives me a venue to express my creativity and I’m very grateful for that.”
Laurine is one of over 1,500 volunteers we have worked with over the years to make Ottawa the green capital of Canada, who learned first-hand the role of grassroots organizing in making social change.