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Department of Geography

Community Partners

Geography enjoys partnerships with several community organizations.  Our partners will periodically contact us with specific internship opportunities that require certain skills and experience.  Students may also contact partners directly to inquire about possible projects that suit students’ interests and skills.

Community Partners for the Internship in Geography (GEOG 595)

Audubon South Carolina is the state arm of National Audubon Society. Its mission is to protect birds and the habitats they need, now and in the future. ASC is seeking interns with GIS skills for mapping, story board creation, geopolitical analysis, landscape scale analysis, and mapping in support of presentations and grant funding needs. Projects may also involve mobile mapping, story maps, and spatial analysis. ASC owns 22,000 acres of habitat and is working to improve forest management on over 4M acres in SC. Contact person is Jennifer Tyrrell at Jennifer.Tyrrell@audubon.org.

Beitz and Daigh Geographics is a Columbia, SC-based mapping technology and data company focused on the commercial real estate industry. Beitz and Daigh Geographics created Planned Grocery® (more details at plannedgrocery.com) for companies to better track when and where new grocery stores will be built. Our Planned Grocery® platform (recently mentioned in the Wall Street Journal) is used by companies such as Whole Foods, Philips Edison and Company, and Fidelity Investments. We are looking for interns with an interest in real estate and GIS. Although we can't accept any interns this spring, we encourage students to contact us about Summer 2021 or Fall 2021 internships. Please send inquires to info@beitzanddaigh.com.

The Central Midlands Council of Governments (CMCOG) works with municipal and county governments in the Midlands region of South Carolina to develop local and regional economic development plans. The Land Use Planning division has on-going projects requiring analysis of municipal data and review of urban and regional comprehensive plans.  Familiarity with GIS is desirable but not essential.  For further information, contact Gregory Sprouse, Director of Research, Planning, and Development, gsprouse@centralmidlands.org.

The Columbia Planning Commission has several initiatives and plans to make Columbia a more livable and sustainable place for all of its citizens. Current internship projects include: (1) analysis of multi-year data on pedestrian and bike use with the aim of improving road safety and encouraging non-motorized transportation; and (2) analysis of multi-year data on uses of public spaces in downtown Columbia with the aim of maximizing accessibility and use. In addition to data analysis, both projects will require interns to conduct literature reviews and to produce summary reports of current research for the Planning Commission. For further information, contact Shane Shaughnessy, shane.shaughnessy@columbiasc.gov.

Trees are an important way to improve the city’s air quality and to reduce the urban heat-island effect. The City Forestry Division plants 500 trees each year in the city’s Right of Way. Unfortunately, the city does not have the resources to monitor their survivability and growth rate. Student interns are needed to collect data to assess tree growth rate and the factors that may be impacting growth. Contact Forestry Superintendent Caleb King, Caleb.King@columbiasc.gov, 803.545.3860.

The Coastal Conservation League is a nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the coastal resources of South Carolina. Its mission is to protect the state’s natural landscapes, abundant wildlife, clean water and quality of life. Since 1989, the Conservation League has carried out this mission by working with citizens, local government and the state legislature.For more information, contact Alan Hancock, Energy and Climate Advocacy Director at alanh@scccl.org.

CVSC is a non-partisan organization and political action committee (PAC) that supports legislation to protect our air, land, and water. CVSC interns have the flexibility to pursue their specific interests. Interns may work on education, outreach, research, and/or social media relating to environmental issues and legislation. Students may gain experience writing reports, collecting data, and/or communicating with activists throughout the state; they also may take advantage of webinars and other educational opportunities. Spring 2020 interns will have a special opportunity to support new legislation to protect 30 percent of the state by 2030. Internships can be remote or in-office. For more information, contact Natalie Olson, natalie@cvsc.org.

ECSC (Cayce, SC) is the statewide service and trade association for electric cooperatives in the state. Electric cooperatives provide electricity to more than 1.4 million South Carolinians on a not-for-profit basis and collectively operate the state’s largest electric system. ECSC is interested in GIS interns with geospatial analytical skills to maintain various spatial/non-spatial datasets and web-based applications. The internship activities will support the ECSC’s GIS capacity for situation awareness and decision making, and enhance students’ experiential learning in human- and business-oriented geospatial intelligence, perfectly fitting in the USGIS GEOINT Certificate program at South Carolina. For more information, contact John Breeden at breeden.john@ecsc.org.

FoodShare SC aims to enhance the quality of life by providing access to fresh, affordable fruit and vegetables (especially those grown by local farmers). The organization provides low-cost fresh-food boxes that are available for pick up at various locations in Richland County. It provides delivery for those without access to transport. Interns are needed to map and analyze data about poverty and food access and to assist with outreach and planning. For more information contact Michelle Troup, Michelle.Troup@uscmed.sc.edu.

The Gills Creek Watershed is among the largest impaired urban watersheds in South Carolina. Gills Creek Watershed Association is dedicated to restoring the watershed through education, grassroots action, public and private partnerships, preservation, and restoration projects. The Association is seeking interns for projects involving GIS mapping, creating educational materials, developing story maps, and creel surveys. We also welcome student-initiated projects. For more information, contact Carmony Adler, Executive Director, Gills Creek Watershed Association at carmony.adler@gillscreekwatershed.org.

 The GIS Team at the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources supports the agency’s mission to serve as the principal advocate for and steward of South Carolina’s natural resources by providing GIS technology to agency staff and GIS resources for the public. The program is seeking interns with an interest in GIS and natural resources to help maintain a comprehensive natural resources database. For more information, contact Tanner Arrington at arringtont@dnr.sc.gov.

The Historic Columbia Foundation conserves and manages multiple historic properties in Columbia and creates educational programs about the city’s rich history. An important goal of the organization is to use a deeper understanding of local history to bring together people from diverse backgrounds. Opportunities exist to research urban history, to create educational materials, and to produce maps and other visuals. For more information, contact John Sherrer at jsherrer@historiccolumbia.org.

The LWCD develops and implements programs that study, manage and conserve the state’s land and water resources, and provides guidance in resource development and management through planning, research, technical assistance and public education. The program is seeking interns with solid GIS skills to map the state’s land and water and to maintain its natural resources database. With more information, contact Ken Rentiers at RentiersK@dnr.sc.gov.

The Columbia NWS Forecast Office has forecast and warning responsibility for the south Carolina midlands and the central Savannah River area of eastern Georgia, which includes the cities of Columbia and Augusta. The summer intern program allows current college students to gain hands-on operational experience in an NWS Forecast Office and expects that a guided research project will be presented at the end of the summer. Students will be selected through a competitive application (late February) and interview process (mid-March). For more information, contact Science and Operations Officer, Frank Alsheimer at frank.alsheimer@noaa.gov.

The Nature Conservancy is the leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The South Carolina chapter is seeking interns with GIS skills for mapping of land protection, natural habitat, and in support of grant funding needs. Projects may also involve mobile mapping, story maps, and spatial analysis. For more information, contact GIS Manager Melissa Strickland at mstrickland@tnc.org.

The NIWB NERR (Georgetown, SC) is part of NOAA’s National Estuarine Research Reserve System and is hosted by UofSC’s Belle W. Baruch Institute for Marine and Coastal Sciences. The Reserve is dedicated to research and education on the impacts of human development and climate change on coastal ecology. Reserve researchers seek interns for the following projects:

(1)  Shoreline change analysis: The mouth and beaches of North Inlet are highly dynamic and provide important animal habitat. Field observations indicate dramatic changes year to year and even month to month.  The Reserve seeks interns to quantify these changes and to identify hotspots of erosion or deposition.  Interns will also have an opportunity to develop a protocol for using NOAA post-storm imagery for a rapid assessment of shoreline change following storm events. This position requires familiarity with GIS software; prospective interns should have taken at least one 500-level GIS course.  Students will undertake work remotely using existing data, but we encourage occasional site visits. 

(2)  North Inlet Digital Elevation Model (DEM): The Reserve requires an intern to produce a DEM based on recently available LiDAR data for the North Inlet area.  This model will be used for multiple research projects and for educational purposes. This intern may also assist in updating a habitat map that will be used with the DEM. This position requires familiarity with GIS software, and prospective interns should have taken at least one 500-level GIS course.  Students will undertake work remotely using existing data, but we encourage occasional site visits. 

(3)  Outreach and Communications: The Reserve seeks an intern who is interested in communication and outreach work relating to coastal research and stewardship.  Experience with story mapping, website creation, and other modes of public relations and outreach is a plus. 

For more information, contact Erik Smith at erik@belle.baruch.sc.edu or Jennifer Plunket at jen@belle.baruch.sc.edu.

The Palmetto Cycling Coalition seeks to create more livable and economically viable communities in South Carolina by promoting cycling and by advocating for bike and pedestrian safety. The PCC is seeking an intern to assess barriers to non-motorized transit use among students, faculty, and staff at the University of South Carolina. This intern will also develop a University-based network of bike/walk advocates and stakeholders, to support city- and statewide non-motorized transit planning and outreach. Desired qualifications are excellent communication skills (oral and written) and strategic thinking ability. A PCC staff member will coordinate closely with the intern in project development, though intern will work remotely. For more information contact Amy Johnson Ely, Executive Director, amy@pccsc.net.

The Richland County Dems are seeking interns who are interested electoral politics and who want to learn more about local communities in the County. Opportunities exist to participate in outreach work with prospective voters, neighborhood data collection, mapping, strategizing, and more. For more information, contact Matt Kisner at kisner@mailbox.sc.edu.

Governed by the Seabrook Island Property Owners Association, Seabrook Island Development is a private, gated community development with a variety of Lowcountry beach- and marsh-side living options. The association is seeking student interns with solid GIS and mapping skills to monitor the coastal barrier island in a variety of applications. For more information, contact Steve Hirsch at shirsch@sipoa.org.

The mission of the SC Forestry Commission is to protect, promote, enhance and nurture the forest lands for South Carolina in a manner consistent with achieving the greatest good for its citizens. For more information, contact David Jenkins at djenkins@scfc.gov.

The SCO represents the state in all climate and meteorology matters. It provides a unique service to the state by archiving and distributing climate and meteorological data, reports, and research that date back to the late 1800s. The SCO also administers the South Carolina Drought Response Act, which requires the office to formulate, coordinate, and execute a comprehensive drought response program for the State of South Carolina. The SCO is interested in interns with knowledge of some course-work in climate, strong quantitative skills, effective oral and written communication skills, and ability to perform independent research. Please contact: Hope Mizzell, SC State Climatologist, at mizzellh@dnr.sc.gov.

The Three Rivers Greenway includes the riverfront pathways at the confluence of the Broad, Saluda, and Congaree Rivers in Columbia, West Columbia, and Cayce. The program is looking for student interns who want hands-on experience in the fields of environmental conservation and outdoor recreation. Depending on their interests, interns may be tasked with studying animal and plant habitat, invasive species, trail usage, and park-user preferences. Interns may also be involved in community outreach. GIS and mapping skills are desirable. For more information, contact Karen Kustafik at Karen.kustafik@columbiasc.gov.


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