My name is Jonathan Shay and I am one of the newest interns here at the Department of Environmental Protection for Montgomery County! I am a rising senior at the University of Maryland, pursuing a degree in Environmental Science and Technology with a concentration in Ecological Technology Design.
A little about myself: I am from the Rockville area (Churchill High School alumni), I have one dog named Brodie, and I love to cook – mostly for the eating part afterwards. In my free time, I love to play basketball and soccer, ride my skateboard, go on hikes, visit museums in DC, and go on road trips with my friends. I spent my last 11 summers as a camper, then a counselor, then a unit leader at Camp Airy in Thurmont, MD. It is a strange feeling to be back at home for the summer for the first time in so long, but I look forward to making the most of it!
Being a local makes this internship especially cool since I feel like I can have an influence in my own stomping grounds. It’s interesting to go on a site visit to a building I have seen hundreds of times before and learn about the sustainable infrastructure practices in place.
When I am not interning here at DEP, I work one day a week at an energy efficiency consulting firm in DC and once a week at an Anaerobic Digester Lab at the University of Maryland. I feel very fortunate to have several opportunities to work in the different realms of sustainability and to learn more about the field.
Anaerobic Digesters (ADs) are a way of turning manure and farm animal waste into natural gas (energy) by simply letting microbes break down the waste in a controlled environment. The microbes process the waste, and then release methane – a potent greenhouse gas if not harnessed properly.To learn more about ADs, click here —-> https://enst.umd.edu/areas-interest/anaerobic-digestionThis niche field is what helped me get an internship here at DEP. My experience with poop led me to work on my current project of Pet Waste Management. Over the summer, I will be working with our watershed outreach team to analyze how effective pet waste stations are in neighborhoods. I have not one, but two shitty jobs!
I have felt strongly about sustainability ever since elementary school. Going on hikes with my family, swimming in the ocean, and helping my dad tend to our fish tank as a kid instilled a strong connection to the environment in me. If anything, that sense of environmental stewardship has only grown stronger with time.
I could easily nerd out over environmental science and legislation for hours given that it’s such a trans-disciplinary and dynamic field. There are constantly new developments in sustainability, ranging from improvements in technology to new policy changes. Part of the reason for this nonstop flow of news is that sustainability relates to almost everything we do.
Recently, I have been trying to take more responsibility for my actions to lead a more sustainable lifestyle. It is amazing how large an impact one can have on their carbon footprint by making a few conscious decisions. This can be bringing your bags to the grocery store, composting your food waste (there are free compost bins available through Montgomery County!), choosing not to use plastic straws, and reducing your meat consumption. In my mind I view it like a game, seeing how I can have the smallest carbon footprint possible, sort of like golf!
By Jon Shay. If you have questions, email me at Jonathan.Shay@montgomerycountymd.gov