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2020-2021 Interns

Our 2020-21 student interns, arranged by the branch of sustainability their team will be focusing on at Virginia Tech:

Energy Team

Natalie Koppier
Energy Team (Lead)
Natalie Koppier
My name is Natalie Koppier and I am a junior in Applied Economic Management with an environmental policy concentration. I plan to graduate next spring. I developed a passion for sustainability when I came to Virginia Tech and joined the club, Students for Sustainable Practice, and since then my love has grown. I’m a member of VT Student Government Association where I passed climate change legislation and I currently serve on the University Governance Energy and Sustainability Committee. I also worked with the Climate Action Commitment (CAC) working group to create a new and progressive CAC for Virginia Tech. I’m still figuring out what I’d like to do in the future, but hopefully it looks something like this internship. I’m excited to work with everyone this coming year and empower the Blacksburg campus to be a model of sustainability.
Rhea Davenport
Energy Team (Communications Representative)
Erica Schermerhorn
Hi everyone! My name is Rhea (RAY-uh) Davenport. I’m an environmental horticulture major minoring in pathways to sustainability, graduating in spring 2021. I am always searching for efforts to reduce my carbon footprint and create meaningful change to my life and the community. I love to volunteer, create, and learn! Between school work you can find me outside hiking, playing frisbee golf, or enjoying the company of my pride and joy, Koa--my mini aussie. My future goals include development in vertical farming and hydroponics with a start-up I am fortunate to co-own, and finding solutions to combat food insecurity.
Robin Benedict
Energy Team
Robin Benedict
Hello! My name is Robin Benedict and I am an Environmental Science major with a minor in Green Engineering, graduating in Spring 2021. I started becoming interested in sustainability when I did undergraduate research with the Sustainability Scholars program in 2018-2019, and that passion made me want to do more. My minor has also allowed me to have a better grasp of the impact we have on the planet, and I am excited to work with everyone to try and make campus and Blacksburg a better place for the community. I would hope to have a career in the future as an environmental analyst, although I am also interested in Environmental Law. In my free time I love taking my dog on hikes, reading, and spending time with my siblings and nieces
Edward Gaines II
Energy Team
Edward Gaines II
Hi my name is Edward Gaines II and I am a sophomore majoring in Applied Economic Management and plan to graduate in spring 2022. My hobbies are: cooking, playing basketball, listening to music. My future career goals are related to agricultural, environmental efforts. I’m excited to get involved on campus and create a change on campus.
Shi Qi Wong
Energy Team
Shi Qi Wong
Hi! My name is Shi Qi Wong (pronounced “City”), and I am currently majoring in Chemical Engineering with a minor in Chemistry in the Class of 2021. I enjoy traveling, trying new foods, and cooking/baking. Though I currently live in the US, I am originally from Singapore! I moved around a lot as a child from Singapore to Switzerland to England to North Carolina and finally to Blacksburg! I developed a passion for the environment during my time in Switzerland and hope to work within the alternative energy field in the future. I am super excited to meet and work with all of you to make our campus more sustainable!

Waste Team

Taylor Bush
Waste Team (Lead)
Taylor Bush
My name is Taylor Nicole Bush. I am from Smithfield, Virginia located in the Tidewater Region. I am a senior studying Fashion Merchandising and Design, with a minor in Pathways to Sustainability. During my college education, I have discovered that sustainability is an all encompassing issue that directly and indirectly influences a list of subjects. My studies have allowed me to merge my passions by advocating for sustainable techniques and practices in the apparel and textile industries, shed light on global environmental injustices, understand policy planning and so much more. I hope to inspire others from diverse backgrounds to create new ways in which to make positive changes that benefit our world and society while reducing our impact. Following graduation, I aspire to continue studying sustainability topics in graduate school with an emphasis on developing and managing sustainable supply chains in the fashion industry.
Hallie Tucker
Waste Team (Communications Representative)
Hallie Tucker
Hello! My name is Hallie Tucker and I’m a junior studying Environmental Science with a minor in Materials in Society. I am very passionate about environmental conservation and sustainability and I am excited to be an intern with the Office of Sustainability this year! I love to bake, hike, camp, take naps with my dogs, and have lively discussions about sustainability and trash. I hope to one day be in a position where I'm able to influence people into adopting more environmentally friendly habits and/or lifestyles.
Ben Butler
Waste Team
Ben Butler
Hey! My name’s Ben and I’m a sophomore studying Economics. I’m primarily interested in material resource waste, especially textiles. In my free time, I love spending time outside and taking advantage of the mountains and clean air we’re so lucky to have here in Blacksburg. I also spend a lot of time thrifting, working out, and spending time with my fraternity. Following graduation, I want to focus on the technical and behavioral advancements of sustainable business operations. I’m really excited to be a part of the team!
Sammie Maisey
Waste Team
Sammie Maisey
Hey! My name is Sammie Maisey. I transferred to Virginia Tech from Thomas Nelson Community College where I got my associate’s degree. I’m a rising senior in environmental science with a minor in wetland sciences and I’ll be graduating in spring 2021. After graduation, I hope to either go to graduate school for environmental engineering or to find a job related to improving sustainability and spreading environmental awareness. Outside of school, I enjoy hiking new trails, spending time in coffee shops, reading in my hammock, and being the president of Transfer Student Organization. Go Hokies!
Kaleigh Steigman
Waste Team
Kaleigh Steigman
Hi I'm Kaleigh Steigman, a sophomore majoring in Environmental Policy and Planning and I plan to graduate in 2023. I am interested in consumerism and the problems that have arisen from the way society has learned to dispose of objects before they have been fully utilized. I believe that individual action is crucial to creating a more sustainable tomorrow. In the future, I hope to have the opportunity to tackle issues related to climate change and waste management through environmental law or consultancy. In my free time, I enjoy writing, baking, reading, and spending time in the company of cute animals.

Water Team

Marley Gilliam
Water Team (Lead)
Marley Gilliam
Hey guys! My name is Marley Gilliam and I’m a senior majoring in Environmental Informatics, minoring in Meteorology and I plan to graduate in Spring 2021. I’m from Alexandria, Va outside of D.C. and love getting on the Potomac River during the summer and can see myself returning to D.C. post grad. I’m really excited about this coming year and working on the Water Team with you all! I can’t wait to get to know everyone better!
Morgan Karns
Water Team (Communications Representative)
Morgan Karns
Hi! I’m Morgan Karns and I’m a sophomore from Warrenton, VA. I am a Wildlife Conservation major with Philosophy and Leadership & Social Change minors. I’m super excited to be getting more involved on campus and to hopefully create a real difference! I love working with people and being on the water! I hope to one day do field research and engage the public through education and outreach.
Diana Schmidt
Water Team
Diana Schmidt
Hi guys! My name is Diana Schmidt and I am from Damascus, VA. I am a current junior majoring in Biological Systems Engineering with a focus in Environmental Health Engineering. I plan to graduate in Spring 2022 and pursue a career in ecosystem engineering and management, specifically contaminant removal. In my free-time, I love to cave, rock climb, hike, kayak, take long walks with my dog, and enjoy the outdoors in general! I’m very passionate about sustainable water resource management and I’m excited to bring this passion to Virginia Tech. I can’t wait to learn from you all and help make Virginia Tech more sustainable!
Esther Thorne
Water Team
Esther Thorne
Hi all! My name is Esther Thorne and I’m from Wesley Hills, NY. I’m a junior majoring in Environmental Science and minoring in Geosciences and Pathways to Sustainability. I plan to graduate in Spring 2022. My goals are to help underprivileged communities in inner-cities and on reservations to receive better environmental treatment, education, and healthcare. I love traveling, cooking, taking pictures, and learning new things! With this internship, I hope I can learn more ways to give back to my Virginia Tech community, as well as how to help others conserve and protect water. Having access to clean water is a privilege right now, and I would love to contribute to and possibly invent more ways to use water sustainably!

Food Team

Claire Gallihugh
Food Team (Lead)
Claire Gallihugh
Hi I'm Claire and I'm a junior studying Applied Economic Management and Natural Resources Conservation. This is my second year as an intern for The Office of Sustainability, and this year I will serve as the leader of the food team. During my time at Virginia Tech I has been involved in various campus organizations, including Agricultural Economics club, Her Campus, and the conservation service fraternity Lambda Iota Mu. I am looking forward to improving composting and recycling efforts within dining halls and supporting local restaurants. I believe sustainability involves creating changes with the health and wellbeing of future generations in mind, and cannot wait to encourage these changes on campus!
Tessa Hawley
Food Team (Communications Representative)
Tessa Hawley
Hi! My name is Tessa Hawley and I’m a senior majoring in Applied Economic Management with a minor in Spanish. I’m passionate about preserving our natural environment and finding new ways to consume and produce food more ethically and sustainably. After graduation, I hope to join the Peace Corps and conduct sustainable agriculture development and research internationally! In my free time you can find me hiking, bike riding, or listening to music!
Ashna Vayalil
Food Team 
Ashna Vayalil
Hi! My name is Ashna Vayalil and I’m a sophomore majoring in Business Information Technology with a minor in Data and Decisions. I’m very passionate about sustainability within the corporate world, and I love a conversation about zero waste, fast fashion, and general environmental awareness!! I hope to one day work for a small sustainably-minded business or become an environmental consultant. You can find me watching anime or making food anytime!
Kate Albi
Food Team
Kate Albi
Hey I'm Kate Albi and I'm a sophomore majoring in Civil and Environmental Engineering. Growing up in Denver, Colorado, I became interested in preserving the beauty of my home state through environmentally conscious and sustainable practices. I am excited to be a member of the Food Team and hope to one day work to educate and inspire future generations about environmental sciences and engineering as a university professor.
Michael Poore
Food Team
Michael Poore
Hi! My name is Michael Poore and I am a Junior majoring in Environmental Policy and Planning with minors in Strategic Communication and GIS. My love for the environment came from growing up in Colorado and Montana and experiencing the nature it had to offer. I hope to use public policy and strategic planning to create a more sustainable future for our communities. Practicing sustainability in our everyday lives is important for a healthy and better future.