Litigation Paralegal
Midwest Environmental Advocates
• Midwest Environmental Advocates offers a Law Clerk Program open to University of Wisconsin and Marquette University Students during in-school semesters and a Summer Law Clerk Program open to interns applying from across the country.
• Writing-intensive: Work at a law firm can be up to 90 percent writing-focused, and excellent writing skills are a must to be able to translate the science and other technical case-related data into the proper style and format.
• Know your passion: Volunteering with several organizations with different focuses is a great way to figure out what environmental issues you feel most passionately about. Environmental law requires an unwavering commitment that can test one's determination to push through any setbacks.
Wisconsin has a strong legacy of environmental stewardship, and for 12 years Midwest Environmental Advocates, a non-profit environmental law center, has provided legal services for the under-represented and advocated for the public's right to clean air, land, and water.

A number of the law center's recent and current cases involve protections for clean water. "Wisconsin is a water based state," said litigation paralegal Kendra Wochos, "there are a lot of attorneys focused on clean water here." Wisconsin's proximity to the Great Lakes and the Mississippi watershed, as well as its many smaller lakes, make water a natural area of focus for the environmental community. A recent case, Anderson et al v. Department of Natural Resources, has gone all the way to the state supreme court and will potentially have a significant impact on phosphorus and mercury water pollution limits in the state.

Qualified legal, environmental professionals, and law students who would like to offer their expertise in contributions to future cases are encouraged to join the Advocacy Network at Midwest Environmental Advocates. Visit their website for more information.
Senior Policy Director
Clean Wisconsin
• It pays to volunteer: approximately half the full-time staff at organizations like Clean Wisconsin start out as volunteers.
• What advocacy groups look for: a strong statistical sense, a natural political sense, and a resume that demonstrates a track record of producing results.
• Network channels: In addition to Clean Wisconsin volunteering opportunities, the Blue-Green Alliance, Wisconsin Apollo Alliance, the Midwestern climate action network RE-AMP, and the Midwest Renewable Energy Association are also well connected in the state.
Policy Director Keith Reopelle has worked with Clean Wisconsin in a number of capacities for 25 years. His work on Clean Wisconsin's energy-efficiency and renewable energy initiatives are helping create jobs around the state. "There is a lot going on right now. There was even more a year ago when the Clean Energy Jobs Act was passed. That would have brought as many as 16,000 jobs to Wisconsin. Unfortunately, the Governor's budget cuts are taking the state backwards. For now the job growth is a bit more piecemeal. Wisconsin has excess energy, so right now the drive is toward energy efficiency," Keith Says.

One of Wisconsin's promising green efforts, The Focus on Energy, is provided by a partnership between Wisconsin utilities, and is charged with allocating $90 million a year to numerous public and private energy-efficiency projects. Funding will continue to ramp up an additional several million dollars a year through 2015. Wisconsin has a significant renewable energy business sector. There are a number of wind farms, wind tower plants, and big solar industry manufacturers in the state. Keith says biomass is also getting a lot of attention in the state with large Wisconsin energy utility We Energy applying for the right to build a biomass plant in the state. Wisconsin's Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard requires 10 percent of utility energy sources to come from renewables by 2015, providing utilities like We Energy with the incentive to pursue opportunities like the biomass plant.

In addition to commercial ventures, Keith says several municipalities are working with the State Office of Energy Independence, which offers an Energy Independent Communities program that will provide planning grants to 40 municipalities that pledge to get 25 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2025. Even though Keith has been focused on recent environmental setbacks, he remains confident in the opportunities for green economic growth and environmental jobs: "There's definitely enough of an advocacy community that jobs do open up."
Executive Director
Gathering Waters Conservancy
• If you are looking to work with a land trust in Wisconsin, Gathering Waters is a one-stop-shop. If you contact them and describe your skill-set then they can point you to work and volunteer opportunities.
• Much of Wisconsin's local environmental workforce complete graduate study at the University of Wisconsin's Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. Check with them for events and opportunities to network.
• Social media savvy is an instant advantage for emerging professionals. For those of us who are currently executive directors, it's not in our DNA. We don't want to miss opportunities to connect with 20-30 year-old environmentalists.
While the commitment to environmental stewardship in Wisconsin remains strong as ever, Gathering Waters Executive Director, Mike Strigel, sees the need for new strategies to bring environmentalism into the next century. Currently, public funding for land trust and other environmental programs is under increased scrutiny in Wisconsin. "We've never experienced anything like this new dynamic in the legislature," Mike says, "Good conservation policy is not conservative or liberal. It's good for all of us." As one of Gathering Waters' main functions, the group advocates at the state level for local land trusts that don't have the training or capacity to do so themselves and can't afford to "wax and wane," as Mike puts it. They own their land outright.

Part of finding new opportunities to keep conservation moving forward involves connecting non-traditional partners with a solution-oriented focus, rather than relying on traditional channels of environmental protection. As an example, Mike points to a grant that Gathering Waters is working on in collaboration with the Joyce Foundation. In order to fulfill the grant requirements for water quality protection, Gathering Waters is bringing hunters and fishers into the fold with environmentalists to help strengthen advocacy efforts.

Mike credits Gathering Water's success to the strength of its environmental network, which consists of 50 land trusts comprising roughly 50,000 members. Other organizations in the state's environmental network include Clean Wisconsin, the River Alliance of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, and the Wisconsin chapter of The Nature conservancy, which is a member of the Gathering Waters land trust network. Contacting organizations like these is sure to create in-roads to employment for green professionals in Wisconsin.
Business Manager
Solar Energy International
• Take classes at Solar Energy International. Workshops are offered in solar, thermal, green building, and even hydro technologies. Classes are offered in twelve locations around the US.
• Roofers can improve their skills by taking classes in solar energy installation.
• Solar energy installation and commercial size energy efficiency projects are the hottest areas of green technology.
Solar Energy International has been providing education in solar and other renewable energy technologies for 20 years. They have become one of the premiere institutions for accredited renewable energy workshops and offer classes in a number of locations.

Business manager Sandy Pickard highlighted the important work this non-profit does through their educational mission. Solar Energy International has expanded to include workshops in solar electric, solar thermal, micro-hydro, and wind energy. Classes are also offered online.
Communications Director
Center For A Sustainable Future
• Organic farms offer volunteer positions, and can be good places to learn renewable agriculture.
• Iowa State University has a great educational resource: The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State is a great place to learn about the newest advances in sustainable agriculture.
• Another excellent resource, The Stone Barn Center, (north of Manhattan) is a non-profit education center and farm. They offer education for sustainable agriculture.
The Center for a Livable Future (CLF) at John's Hopkins university works in research, educational outreach, and community action targeted at "farming, eating, and living for our future." As Communication Manager for the CLF, Chris Stevens works daily in support of these goals.

Sustainable, or resilient, farming has recently gained exposure with the continued environmental and health problems associated with factory farming. In essence, much of sustainable farming is really a "return to traditional farming," Chris explained. In traditional, or sustainable, farming, animals are not raised in a factory environment in very confined spaces and large amounts of dangerous antibiotics and pesticides are avoided.
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