Zachary Thibodeaux is currently a senior in the Academy of Science and Technology at The Woodlands College Park High School. He is also a dedicated environmentalist who wanted to pursue an internship where he could make a difference in the community. This summer he did just that, lending his talents and passion to The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department’s education programs.
One large role Zachary played was taking the Wrap Recycling Action Program (WRAP) on the road to local grocery stores. There he engaged with residents, providing information about recycling plastic bags and film at the store and helping to reduce single-use plastics by handing out over 234 reusable produce bags. Using a data sheet he created, Zachary collected information on how many residents knew that plastic film was accepted at the store, and other metrics that will help improve WRAP education and outreach.
He stated, “The most valuable thing I learned is that community involvement is vital to achieving environmental goals.” He believes the Environmental Services internship inspired him to live a more environmentally conscious lifestyle. For example, working on the WRAP Program has helped him to remember to bring reusable bags to the grocery store to reduce plastic waste. The WRAP Program also motivated him to check all plastic film to see if it can be recycled before he throws it away. He feels this internship helped him prepare for studying environmental engineering in college because it helped expand his knowledge of several environmental issues, including litter/pollution, recycling, and native vs. invasive species, all of which environmental engineers might focus on. He also acquired more experience working with data, such as determining what data to collect, analyzing it, and reporting his results, which is especially important for fields related to science or engineering.
Zachary assisted the Environmental Services Department with several other projects including the Bioblitz BioBooth, where he shared information about the importance of native plants alongside a prospective Eagle Scout working on Invasive Species Removal. A Texas Waters Specialist, Zachary also attended litter audits as part of the department’s Watershed Project. He participated in the Waterway Cleanups and analyzed data from past litter audits to determine what types of litter were of the greatest concern in The Woodlands, and compare the debris found at various locations within The Woodlands to inform future messaging.
From day one, Zachary had a positive attitude and came in with an open mind and motivation to learn. Seeing Zachary grow professionally and academically this summer was inspiring, and a reminder that the next generation of professionals will surely make a positive impact on society. We’re grateful for all the work Zachary has put into his internship with Environmental Services and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors! We have no doubt he has a bright future ahead.