Ever since high school, Brianna Rodriguez knew what her future would hold: Trying to preserve the environment.

“I also really would like to make my own program for children who live in the city, where they have the opportunity to explore in nature and do things in the environment," Rodriguez said. "Because I know that if I had never gotten that opportunity, I would not be here right now.”

An environmental studies major, she’s already taking steps to combat climate change. The SUNY New Paltz freshman interns with the New York Public Interest Research Group, and she’s also part of the school’s Environmental Alliance Club.

What You Need To Know

  • Ulster County has a new summer internship for ages 16 and up

  • Provided through the county's Climate Corps, the internship will give young people hands-on experience developing climate policies and programs

  • Registration is ongoing through the end of May, and the paid internship lasts through the summer

Climate change is part of her present and future. It's a field to get into upon graduation. That’s also why Ulster County is looking to guide young adults to green jobs through its Climate Corps, a paid summer internship program.

“Participants are going to be embedded in different departments, working on different climate initiatives relevant to those departments," said Ulster County Executive Jen Metzger. "So to give you an example, they could be working with the Department of Public Works on electrification strategies.”

Metzger said that by 2030, about 180,000 new green jobs will be created through the state’s efforts to reduce fossil fuels and invest in renewables. She said it’s up to counties to take the lead on preparing its residents.

“That's what companies also look for when they're looking for communities to invest," she said. "The first thing they look for is do they have qualified workforce? And these are family-sustaining jobs.”

Rodriguez said a program like this will do a lot for the next generation of the workforce.

“A gateway for a lot of students if they are not completely sure that they want to go into this as a career, definitely having that experience," Rodriguez said. "But also for students who are 100% sure just gaining that experience, and knowing really that this is something that they want to focus on in the future.”

Ulster County’s program will start June 5 and run through the summer. Applications are now open here.