DTE Foundation Fellows lead Environmental Diversity

Jennifer Lawson, Program Manager
DTE Energy Foundation

Unfortunately, the literature on environmental sciences continues to indicate that there is a lack of diversity in the field — with white men continuing to dominate green jobs.  This prompts me to contemplate what individuals, communities and organizations can do to ensure that EVERYONE who wants to work in an environmental career is empowered to do so.  Are people aware that amazing environmental careers exist?  And if not, how might individuals get exposure to these opportunities? Further still, how do we prepare folks for these prospects?

I want to do my part to ensure individuals from underrepresented groups who want to learn about or work in environmental sciences have a chance to explore these career paths.  In 2020, with funding from the DTE Foundation and the help of three nonprofit environmental organizations, the DTE Foundation’s Environmental Fellowship was created to provide opportunities for underrepresented, recent college graduates to learn and grow personally and professionally in a safe and nurturing setting.  Nearly three years later, the program continues with four partners, thanks to the active participation of the Muskegon River Watershed.

This initiative requires the Watershed to commit to providing an individual with two years of full-time, comprehensive work experience.  What’s critical is the Muskegon River Watershed promised to develop and prepare a fellow with the skills needed to be successful in future endeavors AND assist them in how to tactically participate in bettering their communities.

The hope is this fellowship will inspire the creation and expansion of similar opportunities that provide ANYONE with an inkling of interest in the environmental sciences with the chance to explore it.