Aspiring Environmental Engineer Gets Hands-on Experience During High School Internship

For aspiring environmental engineer Anna Qualls gaining hands-on lab and field experience is an important part of her career path. A summer internship last year was exactly the jumpstart she was looking for.

She conducted stream monitoring, fish surveying and wild rice monitoring; went on field trips to the Farmory and Cat Island; and participated in multiple community events — and she did it all before her senior year of high school.

Qualls, who will graduate from De Pere High School this spring, was the first high school intern to participate in UW-Green-Bay’s Freshwater Summer Scholars Internship Program, which is supported by the Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin. The program will expand to six interns this summer.

Anna Qualls’ favorite part of her high school internship with UW-Green Bay was stream monitoring.

“I wanted to gain research experience before going to college and I wanted more exposure in the environmental field,” she says. “My favorite part was the stream monitoring and water chemistry because I loved going to the streams to perform physical tests, and I also loved performing water chemistry in the lab.”

The internship program provides high schoolers with opportunities to explore water science and participate in UW-Green Bay research projects. Students are mentored by a faculty or staff member, a graduate student or a qualified undergraduate under the supervision of a faculty/staff member. Current projects include water-quality monitoring in regional streams, laboratory analysis of surface water quality, stream restoration projects, and wetland restoration projects.

In addition to gaining field and laboratory skills, Qualls assisted UW-Green Bay professionals at two Phrag Fests and a Sunset on the Farm event. She also was the student speaker at the Lower Fox River Watershed Monitoring Program Annual Symposium in March, where she encouraged high school students in attendance to consider applying for this summer’s internship program.

“I had an amazing summer. It made me appreciate the environment even more, and it solidified my desire to go into environmental engineering,” says Qualls, who plans to enroll at UW-Madison. “I hope my work as an environmental engineer is for the benefit of the environment and helping to implement sustainable solutions to environmental issues.”


Analyzing water samples gave Qualls firsthand experience working in a real lab.

2023 Internship Program Details:

Applications are due by May 1, 2023. The Hiring Committee will review applications and contact selected students by May 8, 2023.

UW-Green Bay will hire six Freshwater Scholars for summer 2023. Students currently enrolled in high school, including seniors who are graduating in Spring 2023, are eligible.

Interns will receive a stipend of $1,500 to participate in 120 hours of active research over the course of the program. Specific projects and activities will be determined by the mentorship team and may take place on any of the four UW-Green Bay campuses. Transportation from campuses to research sites will be provided, but on-campus housing is not provided, and students will need to have or arrange their own transportation to campus. Campus parking pass will be provided.