CAPAL Intern Spotlight Charlotte Rhodes ’18

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Charlotte Rhodes is a rising junior at the University of Connecticut. She is pursing a major in Environmental Studies with a minor in Environmental Economics and Policy. This summer she will be interning with the U.S. Forest Service.

What are you excited to learn about during your internship this summer? 

I’m very excited to be working with the US Forest Service this summer and am looking forward to learning more about the current initiatives being taken to improve the sustainability and resilience of our communities. I am lucky enough to be going on a number of field days to the Silicon Valley Energy Summit, Pacific Union College, the Eldorado National forest, and the Oakland Zoo. Every day is a new opportunity to learn and explore how the many parts of government agencies work amongst themselves, with partners, and with the public. That said, this internship is not strictly academic. Being so far away from Connecticut, I’m excited to explore California and learn about the history of an area so different from New England.

Why is public service important to you?

My mother, a family literacy facilitator, has worked with our local community, organizing events, and teaching families how to be actively engaged and excited about their children’s education. I have seen and been surrounded by the impact of public outreach programs on communities. I understand how important they are to a population’s well-being and I see the potential to educate and inspire a population. My mothers’ example sparked a fire in me and I began volunteering throughout my community, in my school, and my church.

I consider public service a moral obligation. The United States of America was founded on the premise of equality, freedom, and acceptance for all. It’s a country where dreams are achieved and I believe that we have a moral duty to help and assist our fellow citizen. Money, personal beliefs, or affiliations should never be the dictating factor over one’s success. Providing individuals with services they may not otherwise have diversifies the voices contributing to the success and progress of our nation.

What are the projects that you’re working on this summer and how are they connected to your interests in public service?

As a Sustainable Operations, Climate Change, and Wildlife Ecology Intern, my program of work stretches across many fields. Some of my smaller tasks include developing bi-weekly “Climate Change Bulletins” for the Forest Service Region 5 Regional Office (R5 RO) employees and documenting sustainability success stories into the Leadership in Sustainable Operations (LISO) database. I have also been in communication with a number of Forest Service employees and partners in regards to the “Climate Change Blasts” I am writing, each of which focus on the relationship between climate change and another field (community, conservation education, invasive species, and urban forestry).

Some of my larger more involved projects include the development of an Electric Vehicle Charging Process Guide. The guide is a collection of the various communications, policy, and general knowledge gathered by the R5 RO to pilot their EV charging stations and is indented to assist other regions and forests in implementing EV charging for employee and fleet vehicles more efficiently. I have also been spearheading the R5 RO’s “Greening Fire” efforts. We are hoping to develop and pilot an event waste management Emergency Equipment Rental Agreement (EERA) for incident recycling. After consulting with and briefing leaders from Fire and Aviation Management and Acquisition Management, we will be able to move ahead with project and implementation. Finally, I have been spending my time researching and summarizing literature about the effects of changing conditions on California Spotted Owl (CSO) prey species. The CSO is a large conservation concern in California and it’s important to consider all aspects of its niche in order to develop the most comprehensive and effective management plan. My projects are so fulfilling because they reach into all aspects of public service and are created with the intent to inform and provide others with the resources to implement sustainability efforts into their lives.

What do you do in your free time?

I really enjoy singing, hiking, fishing, exploring, playing with my dog, and hanging out with friends and family.

What is something that people usually don’t expect or know about you?

I’m really into home décor, I’ll spend hours on Pinterest organizing and designing houses despite the fact that I probably won’t buy a house for another 8-10 years.

Meet all of our CAPAL Scholars & Interns here.


Sharon Le is a rising third-year student at the University of Virginia, double majoring in Psychology and Spanish, on the Pre-Law track. Sharon served as the External Vice President for the Vietnamese Student Association (VSA@UVA) the past year, and is also involved in Phi Alpha Delta – the International Pre-Law Fraternity, and the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Team at the University. She was greatly exposed to the Asian Pacific American representation not only through her involvement with the Vietnamese community in Northern Virginia with VSA but also through her background – having grown up in Vietnam and moving to America in high school. Sharon hopes to promote Asian Pacific American leadership with her commitments and to give the community a bigger voice in the country.