Ohio Wesleyan University and the City of Delaware signed a memorandum of understanding on Thursday creating a permanent OWU student internship within the city’s Department of Public Utilities and formalizing additional opportunities for city-campus collaboration.
The agreement creates one public utilities internship each semester for which the selected Ohio Wesleyan student will receive course credit. The agreement also establishes formal opportunities for OWU faculty and students to work with the city on research and other projects of mutual interest.
“The city already hosts student-interns,” said Megan Ellis, executive director of the OWU Career Connection, “and this memorandum formalizes that partnership. It allows the city to expand opportunities for Ohio Wesleyan students in a structured way while also providing them with valuable hands-on learning experiences.”
Students selected for public utilities internships will work an average of eight hours a week for 15 weeks and gain practical knowledge in watershed planning, water-quality monitoring and improvement, stormwater management, geographic information system (GIS) equipment, grant research, and more. They also may become eligible to earn certification in environmental fields, expanding their ability to compete for jobs when they graduate.
“These internships are strongly situated in the liberal arts tradition,” said Ohio Wesleyan professor John Krygier, who will oversee the Geography 495 internship course. “Students build critical-thinking, research, and writing skills by assisting the city with meaningful, real-world projects created in collaboration with public utilities staff. Students are expected to generate final reports, participate in professional activities, and put into practice what they have learned in their courses at OWU.”
To create the new memorandum of understanding, Krygier, who also serves as co-director of Ohio Wesleyan’s Environment & Sustainability Program, collaborated with student Janelle Valdinger, a sophomore geography major and full-time City of Delaware Public Utilities employee, and with Caroline Cicerchi, the city’s watershed and sustainability coordinator.
“The city’s Public Utilities Department has relied heavily on its partnership with Ohio Wesleyan University students in recent years from volunteering at watershed programs to conducting water quality samplings,” Cicerchi said. “They are an invaluable partner to our department and the city overall. I am thrilled to formalize our partnership in a way that benefits students, faculty, and city departments alike.
“Thanks to a couple of grants that were awarded in 2018-2019,” she continued, “our summer student-interns will be assisting with some water-quality research projects that are a first of their kind for the city. This collaboration is going to have a positive impact on students and on our community for years to come, and I am excited to be a part of it.”
The memorandum was signed Thursday by Delaware City Manager Tom Homan and Ohio Wesleyan President Rock Jones with Ellis, Krygier, Cicerchi, and other city and university representatives witnessing the event. Ellis said she hopes more such agreements are forthcoming.
“As we continue to expand internship, externship, mentored research, and other opportunities for Ohio Wesleyan students through our OWU Career Connection Office,” Ellis said, “we hope this memorandum will serve as a template for future agreements.
“New data show that 96 percent of our 2018 graduates were employed and/or enrolled in graduate school six months after earning their OWU diplomas,” she said. “These types of structured, hands-on internships help to support this level of success. We are grateful to the city for their partnership.”
Learn more about the City of Delaware’s Department of Public Utilities at www.delawareohio.net, more about Ohio Wesleyan’s Environment & Sustainability Program at www.owu.edu/environment, and more about the OWU Career Connection at www.owu.edu/careers.
Follow The Delaware Gazette on Twitter @delgazette. Like The Gazette on Facebook.