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My AmeriCorps internship served me well

My AmeriCorps internship served me well

One of our goals at Great Basin Institute is to introduce people to professional opportunities in resource and ecological management. Every once in a while, we hear back from one of our alumni. Here’s an update from one of our AmeriCorps interns, who served a few years back. 

By Patrick Freeze

PhD Graduate Research Assistant, Soil Science

Washington State University, Pullman WA

I worked at Great Basin Resource Watch in Reno ( for about one year as a student Americorps volunteer in 2009-10 through Great Basin Institute.  It was my very first environmental internship of any kind, and it really opened up a lot of doors for me.  A lot!

After my service, I worked in Ghana on a small project focusing on indigenous tribes impacted by mining. Afterwards Dr. Glenn Miller, board member of both GBRW and GBI, asked me to work in his lab for the rest of my undergraduate career.  On top of Dr. Miller’s biofuels research, we were awarded from the National Science Foundation and NASA’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, just to name a few.  It was incredible.

I’m now in my 3rd year of a funded PhD program studying soil chemistry at Washington State. Dr. Miller from UNR is on my committee (can’t let him go!).

Here, I’m continuing that same work looking at urban and rural communities impacted by heavy metals sourced from human activity such as industry, mining activity, and historic pesticide use.

I also just received a U.S. Fulbright scholarship to work in Thailand for 10 months starting this August.  I’ll be working at Kasetsart University in Bangkok focusing on cadmium contamination in rice paddies, which impacts rural farmers throughout western Thailand.  It’s a huge issue there, because the plants suck up this metal pretty readily, and rice is a staple food item.

I’m amazed how that one service project exploded into so much more, and in just six years. I want to say thank you to Great Basin Institute for setting me on this path!


In the photo above, Patrick is top left, with fellow delegates at the headquarters of the World Bank, during the Association of International Agriculture and Rural Development ( conference last summer in Washington D.C. At the conference, Patrick was selected as the AIARD “Future Leader Representative” for 2014/15. The future leaders visited every major government  group (USAID, USDA, WorldBank, etc).

Thank you, Patrick, for sharing your story, and showing what possibilities might await for other AmeriCorps interns and volunteers.


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