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CEC is committed to creating a more resilient and just region in the face of climate change. Through our work with the Central Coast Climate Justice Network and elsewhere, our vision includes an end to racial injustices and their resulting environmental inequities.

“Intern Spotlight” is a series about former CEC interns, detailing their experiences at the organization and finding out what they are up to now. Over the years, hundreds of interns have helped CEC with its environmental programs while gaining useful skills and connections pertinent to their future careers. 

Kelly Rae Kacmar currently works as a fire inspector for the City of Burbank Fire Department in Southern California. Kelly interned for CEC while in her last year as an undergraduate student majoring in Environmental Studies at UC Santa Barbara.

Tell us briefly about your role as an intern at CEC:

During my internship in the spring of 2008, I worked as the Volunteer Coordinator for Earth Day. It involved a lot of outreach through phone calls and emails, organizing spreadsheets with shift assignments, and finding the right task for each volunteer. I would also frequently go to schools to spread the word about Earth Day.

Is there anything notable about how you were mentored by the staff at CEC?

At the time, as an undergraduate student, I don’t know if I realized how helpful my time at CEC would be for future jobs. However, the internship truly was a mentorship. I was taught to pay attention to detail in every aspect of my job, and in the grand scheme of things, I was able to experience the feeling of being a small part of something much larger. An internship at CEC is truly a dream for any environmental student and an opportunity to build connections.

What are you up to now?

When I graduated, I knew that I wanted to work in the public sector and I found an opening at the Burbank Fire Department. It was fate that I initially took on a clerical position, because it led to my promotion as a Fire Inspector. I learned not to focus on the title of my job because hard work in any position always pays off. As the Fire Inspector, I now go to businesses that have hazardous materials on-site, making sure there is secondary containment and confirming that all chemicals are always separated and stored properly. A big part of my job is training and making sure that the businesses are performing good, environmentally sound practices.

Are you involved in any environmental efforts outside of your work?

The City of Burbank is striving to make their events “zero waste,” such as the Taste of Downtown Burbank, so I regularly volunteer to help educate attendees about what can or cannot be composted, trashed, or recycled. I also volunteer at Earth Day celebrations in San Diego and Santa Clarita. Speaking of Earth Day, my husband and I deliberately chose to be married on April 22 (Earth Day), so every April around our anniversary we make a point to plant a tree at a local event.

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