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Interns gain hands-on experience in environmental, mining industries


Employers value relevant work experience when considering job candidates. This summer, 10 University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire geology students are getting that experience — and being paid for it. 

Several of the paid internships are part of UW-Eau Claire's Responsible Mining Initiative, housed in the university's geology department. The initiative was created when, in November 2013, the UW System awarded UW-Eau Claire a $451,000 Economic Development Incentive Grant to prepare highly qualified graduates for work in the mining industry, the environmental consulting industry and regulatory agencies such as the Department of Natural Resources. 

"These internships are providing UW-Eau Claire geology students with amazing opportunities to gain practical work experience, as well as graduate with fewer loans," said Dr. Kent Syverson, professor and chair of UW-Eau Claire's geology department. "At the same time, we're benefiting the environmental and mining industries by partnering with them to develop highly skilled professionals to fill their workforce needs and protect the environment." 

UW-Eau Claire geology majors are working at the following internships, earning stipends ranging from $7,000 to $13,000 that are paid by the students' employers. Several also have received scholarships through the Responsible Mining Initiative: 

  • Nicholas Matula, a senior from Kimberly, is an intern in non-metallic mining for a second consecutive year at Smart Sand Inc. in Oakdale. Matula also received a $700 Unimin Field Geology II Grant for field studies in Montana in May and June. 
  • Jacob Durand, a senior from Eagan, Minnesota, is an intern in non-metallic mining at Smart Sand Inc. in Oakdale. Durand also received a $700 Unimin Field Geology II Grant and a $700 Myers/Willis Field Camp Scholarship for field studies in Montana in May and June.
  • Justin Poirier, a senior from Altoona, is an intern in non-metallic mining for a second consecutive year at Unimin Corp. in Tunnel City. Poirier also received a $700 Unimin Field Geology II Grant for field studies in Montana in May and June. 
  • Daniel Brennan, a senior from Prairie du Sac, is an intern in non-metallic mining at Unimin Corp. in Mankato, Minnesota. 
  • Bryce Kujawa, a senior from Green Bay, is an intern in non-metallic mining at Unimin Corp. in Tunnel City. Kujawa also received a $700 Unimin Field Geology II Grant for field studies in Montana in May and June.
  • Rachel Fliflet, a senior from Sheldon, is an intern in non-metallic mining at Fairmount Santrol in Menomonie. Fliflet also received a $700 Unimin Field Geology II Grant for field studies in Montana in May and June. 
  • Alex Hutter, a senior from Altoona, is an intern in metallic mining at Teck Resources in the Brooks Range in northern Alaska. 
  • Anna Brickheimer, a junior from Chippewa Falls, is an environmental consulting intern at SEH Inc. in Chippewa Falls. Brickheimer also is the recipient of a $2,000 Fairmount Santrol Responsible Mining Scholarship. 
  • Sarah Kintner, a senior from Green Bay, is a hydrogeology intern at Barr Engineering in Minneapolis. Kintner also is the recipient of a $2,000 Fairmount Santrol Responsible Mining Scholarship.
  • Ben Degner, a senior from Appleton, is an environmental affairs intern with the North Dakota Department of Health-Ground Water Protection Program in Bismarck, North Dakota.

Photo caption: Geology major Rachel Fliflet, pictured with Dr. Kent Syverson of UW-Eau Claire's geology department at Fairmount Santrol in Menomonie, is a paid intern this summer at the non-metallic mining company.


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