Sustainability Interns

Amanda Williams
Urban Forest Initiative Intern 2015-2016 

Amanda Williams
Major: Biosystems and Ag Engineering
Graduation Date: May 2017
Junior at the time of her internship
Mentors: Mary Arthur and Nic Williamson, Forestry


Independent Project Title: Tree Walk: A Green Way To Get Through Campus
I have selected 50 trees throughout campus that will be labeled with their common name, scientific name, native range, and a QR code linking to a fun-fact relating to each tree’s species. The goal of this project is to educate students, faculty, and staff about the trees they see every day. Be on the lookout for these signs next fall when walking through campus – trees are full of knowledge! 


  • Tree Walk Signs
  • Gained knowledge of “behind the scenes” sustainability efforts at UK
  • Gained knowledge of the politics of planting trees (native vs. nonnative debate, etc.)
  • Built friendships and connections with the other sustainability interns
  • Expanded my network – Mary Arthur knows everyone and everything! I’m sure she’ll be a great resource for the rest of my academic career and beyond.

How has the internship influenced you?
Interning for the Urban Forest Initiative has enabled me to see the world differently. Through my year here, I have increased my knowledge of what it means to be sustainable and how to be so. I put more thought into my urban surroundings now, mostly the trees.

If you reflect over what you knew when you started and what you hoped to gain from the experience did it affirm your plans/interest in your major area of study or redirect you?
I chose biosystems engineering because it was a cross between the environment and engineering. I was really excited to receive this internship because it had an environmental aspect that I am really passionate about. Before my time as an undergrad is up, I want to expand upon my knowledge base as much as possible so that I’m prepared for a “real job” when the time comes. This position only reaffirmed my love of nature and the environment and I can’t wait to see what I’ll do with what I’ve picked up from my time as a sustainability intern.

Do you feel you gained valuable skills?  If so, what were they?
This internship has improved my professional social media and communication skills and also increased my knowledge of urban forests. I have also learned how to collaborate with others effectively.

What's next?
I will be starting a summer class and working for Steve Higgins in the Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering department over the summer. Next semester is back to a full load of engineering courses. I will be working for the Urban Forest Initiative again in the fall and spring.


© 2013 Tracy Farmer Institute for Sustainability and the Environment