Students for a Better World: The Beyond the Classroom Blog

Stories, Resources, & More from the Beyond the Classroom (BTC) Program at University of Maryland

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Beyond the Classroom Provides Real Life Experience

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world" -- Nelson Mandela at the University of Witwatersrand in 2003By Colleen McMullen, BTC Student

In college it is very easy to get swept up in academics, to only think short term, study all the time, and develop tunnel vision on getting good grades. While this may enable a student to master the concepts of his or her major, it is an incomplete way of preparing for the “real world”.  Even easier is failing to think about how what students learn at the University of Maryland applies and will contribute to the rest of the world. College is a rather sheltered environment in which students may learn about the issues facing the world today, but have little opportunity to see them in action and learn what is being done to combat them.

The Beyond the Classroom program has changed this perspective for me. It has exposed me to the world’s leading problems in new and engaging ways: through community service, activism, research, and meeting and speaking with those that are directly affected by challenges and work to fight them. Continue reading


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Internship at Wildlife Research Center Teaches About the Nature of Nonprofits

Patuxent Wildlife Research Center

By Rebecca Marchwinski, BTC Student
For my Beyond the Classroom internship, I worked at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center with the Friends of Patuxent. This was not a traditional internship and required a lot of hands-on work outdoors.The internship had two main goals: research and public outreach. On the one hand, I spent a lot of time at a duck colony with over 100 ducks, conducting behavioral research and observations. On the other hand, I would attend events through the Friends of Patuxent to inform the public about the research occurring on the refuge and what issues that research was addressing. Continue reading

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Internship at the Sierra Club Illustrates Importance of Government and Nonprofit Collaboration


By Colleen McMullen, BTC Student

This semester, I worked for the Maryland chapter of the Sierra Club as a water protection intern. As a biodiversity and conservation biology major at the University of Maryland, I have a strong interest protecting the environment. I was very drawn to this organization for the array of environmental issues it addresses and the unique club experience it offers its members. Working with the Maryland Sierra Club has been a very enlightening and valuable experience that has taught me a great deal about Maryland’s environment and the inner workings of a grassroots organization. Continue reading

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Internship Experience at American Forests Serves as Preparation for Life After Graduation

by Tacy Lambiase, BTC Student

I knew last semester that I wanted a spring internship that would teach me valuable communication skills. Since I want to pursue a career incommunications with some kind of emphasis on sustainability or environmental education after graduation, I looked for openings at organizations related to environmental activism and conservation. After finding out about American Forests, a conservation nonprofit in Washington, D.C., and securing an internship working with their communications department, I am pleased to say that I have certainly learned valuable skills over the past few months that I can use in my post-graduation life. Continue reading

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Community Service with Neighborhood Farm Initiative Teaches About Local Gardening Efforts

by Julia Tuvin, BTC Student

NFI works to change underutilized land into healthy gardens in DC.

NFI works to change underutilized land into healthy gardens in DC.

On a Saturday morning in early April, Beyond the Classroom students participated in a community service gardening project with the Neighborhood Farm Initiative. The students who volunteered were active participants in transforming the garden to prepared for the planting season.

Together volunteers who regularly work at the garden and BTC  students were assigned tasks to do in the garden. Some people were leveling and weeding soil so new plants could be planted. Some made a trail so there was a distinct spot to step so gardeners would not step on the growing plants. Some measured twelve-inch squares so plants to educate people who have little space on how much can be grown in one square foot. Volunteers also organized irrigation hosing so water will be able to get to every plant. All the volunteers were able to help in some way, and by the end of the morning, all the tasks were completed.

One question readers might be asking themselves is, why did Beyond the Classroom volunteer with the Neighborhood Farm Initiative? Continue reading

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Internship Teaches About Sustainability at Universities

by Alexis Robinson, BTC Student

What is sustainability, and how does it apply to us? This is a question that got the Office of Sustainability started at the University of Maryland. My internship is in the Office of Sustainability in the Green Office program, which has taught me so much about the inter-working of sustainability efforts on campus. Continue reading

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Melinda St. Louis Informs and Inspires Students on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement

St. Louis, rallying against the TPP last year in Virginia.

by Nicole Urps, BTC Student

Beyond the Classroom’s “People Power” series welcomed Melinda St. Louis on March 4 to talk about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Free Trade Agreement.

This free trade agreement is currently being negotiated between the United States and ten other countries including Australia, Canada, Chile, Mexico, Vietnam, New Zealand and Peru.  St. Louis is considered an expert in the field as she is the International Campaigns Director with Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. She works with international allies to cease the expansion of harmful and dangerous trade agreements. Unfortunately, the TTP Free Trade Agreement that has been in negotiations since 2010, and is expected to be signed as soon as the fall of 2013 unless citizens build awareness and take a stand to fight back. Continue reading