With EPA internship, Barnes paves her way to dream job years before graduation

Lindsey Barnes at EPA office

For Lindsey Barnes, working at the Environmental Protection Agency was always a “dream job.” With a passion for the environment and a desire to make a meaningful impact, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville junior from Cedar Rapids, Iowa set her sights on that future goal – never imagining she would achieve it two years before graduating college.  

“Working for the EPA is something I always dreamed of,” said Barnes, a double major in environmental science and conservation and sustainability and renewable energy systems. “But I always thought, if I were ever able to accomplish it, it would be farther down my career path. So, when I saw a position posted for an intern, I jumped right on it.”

Barnes recently completed an internship at EPA’s Region 8 Headquarters in Denver, Colorado, through the federal Pathways Internship Program. This paid internship program offers students opportunities to explore careers while completing their college education. Students who successfully complete the program are eligible for conversion to a permanent job. 

Barnes worked in the EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance division, specifically on the Clean Air Act branch. She was part of a team that monitors companies’ emissions, ensuring they don’t exceed the permitted amount, and works with them to adhere to policies and create cleaner air.

“What really interests me about the EPA is that I feel like I share a similar mission,” said Barnes. “I want to protect human health and the environment with the nation’s policy.”

Barnes is continuing to work remotely for the EPA throughout the school year. She will have another internship with the agency next summer and the offer of a full-time position once she graduates. 

Barnes says she has an interest in pursuing the same type of work at the EPA that she did last summer.

“At first, I didn’t really think of myself as someone who wants to enforce policies. I wanted to do more research,” she said. “But, I thought this was a good way to get my foot in the door, and I ended up really enjoying it and finding it interesting. I feel like I could really make a difference when it comes to lowering emissions because they do have a prominent impact on climate change.”

Barnes credits a lot of people at UW-Platteville for making this possible – from professors to peers to her track coaches. 

“I came to UW-Platteville, because I wanted a small school atmosphere, and I’m really glad I chose it, because I’ve become really close to the professors in my field,” said Barnes. “Even professors outside my field really helped me. Even my track coaches were helping me find housing in Denver. It takes a village.”