Chancellor King Announces Inaugural Class of SUNY Climate Corps to Fill Paid Internships In Partnerships With State Agencies

June 25, 2024

Program Mitigates Barriers to Real-Life Work Experiences Provided in Environmental and Sustainability-Related Fields

36 Students Selected for Internships at DEC, DPS, NYSERDA, OGS, Parks, and SUNY System

Albany, NY – State University of New York Chancellor John B. King Jr. today announced the inaugural class of paid student interns from the SUNY Climate Corps Internship Program. Thirty-six SUNY students from eight campuses were selected for immersive, real-life work experiences in research and policy at state agencies with environmental and sustainability missions and SUNY System Administration.

SUNY students were selected based on demonstrated interest in sustainability careers and potential for leadership and innovation, with a preference for those who come from disadvantaged communities designated under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, and students facing related barriers to obtaining an internship experience.

Students will conduct their internships at the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC); Department of Public Services (DPS); New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA); Office of General Services (OGS); Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP), or SUNY System Administration. Funding for the program is provided through Empire State Development.

Today, students met with SUNY Chancellor King, Assemblymember Patricia Fahy, Assemblyman John McDonald, NYS Office of General Services Commissioner Jeanette Moy, NYSERDA Executive Vice President of Policy and Regulatory Affairs John Williams, and Deputy Commissioner for Environmental Stewardship Ron Rausch.

"Across SUNY we are opening up opportunities for paid internships and college credit, and in doing so, expanding our students' exposure to meaningful hands-on experiential learning outside the classroom," said SUNY Chancellor King. "The SUNY Climate Corps Internship Program puts students in positions that contribute to data analysis, environmental justice, waste reduction and recycling, and everything in between, and we are thankful to our state agency partners and campuses across the state for making the experience enriching and bringing each student closer to pursuing work in environmental and sustainability-related fields."

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Interim Commissioner Sean Mahar said, "The SUNY Climate Corps Internship Program offers young people real-world work experience, helping to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards and climate leaders. To advance meaningful environmental and climate careers and support implementation of New York's ambitious climate law, it is critical to develop a workforce to do it. DEC thanks our New York State agency partners, particularly Chancellor King, for standing up this new opportunity to lead on climate."

CEO of the Department of Public Service Rory M. Christian said, "To create the clean-energy economy of the future, we need to develop a robust clean energy workforce. We applaud SUNY's selection of SUNY Climate Interns who will join with the Department of Public Service to develop experience, knowledge, and skills necessary to excel in the clean technology, energy, and environmental sectors."

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said, "Empire State Development is proud to both support and welcome the first cohort of SUNY Climate Interns. Our agency's commitment to inclusive workforce development and cutting-edge innovation – and to Governor Hochul's ambitious climate action goals – is emblemized by this group of future changemakers."

NYSERDA President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, "The SUNY Climate Corps Internship Program demonstrates how New York is advancing new and creative ways to support climate action by showing future generations of New Yorkers, including those from historically underserved communities, career paths that lead to jobs with family sustaining wages and long-term success. The 2023 New York Clean Energy Industry Report shows that New York's clean energy workforce is growing faster than the State's overall workforce and NYSERDA congratulates this inaugural class of future leaders for taking this first step in joining our growing green economy."

NYS Office of General Services Commissioner Jeanette Moy said, "OGS is excited to participate in SUNY's Climate Corps Internship Program alongside our partner agencies, as these future leaders will have the opportunity to learn from and contribute to our resiliency and sustainability work. Many of these students live in marginalized communities that often bear the brunt of climate change. We are sure that their perspectives, valuable knowledge, and expertise will help us further identify and address threats to our environment while we work together to secure a healthier future for New York State."

Commissioner Pro Tempore of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Randy Simons said, "Making our state parks and historic sites more resilient to the impacts of climate change is a major challenge we must address today. We look forward to developing a new generation of leaders who will bring fresh ideas and innovative solutions to ensure our parks remain accessible places for New Yorkers to enjoy safe and healthy outdoor recreation."

The first class of interns from the SUNY Climate Corps Internship Program include:

University at Albany

  • Tasnim Ahmed, Master's Program in Environmental Health, DEC 
  • Ahmed Al balushi, Environmental & Sustainable Engineering, DEC 
  • Gianna Archibald, Environmental Engineering, DEC, 
  • Chiara Calicchia, Master's Program in Geography, SUNY System Administration 
  • Cailla Cruz, Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security & Cybersecurity, NYSERDA 
  • Brian Diaz, Business Administration, NYSERDA,
  • Jithin Reddy Kommidi, Master's Program in Data Science, DPS 
  • Emily Ophardt, Mathematics, OGS 
  • Neha Pattan, Informatics and Data Analytics, DEC 
  • Shan Prevatt, Master's Program in Urban & Regional Planning, DEC 
  • Hope Savercool, Environmental Science & Sustainability, DEC 
  • Lindsay Solomon, Environmental Science, SUNY System Administration 
  • Zainab Thaleb Al Sallami, Communication, NYSERDA 
  • Sergey Tkachenko, Environmental and Sustainable Engineering, OPRHP 
  • Charles Van Ness, Geography, DEC 
  • John Vidunas, Environmental and Sustainable Engineering, OPRHP
  • Allen Pronith Reddy Yeddula, Master's Program in Environmental and Sustainable Engineering, DPS

Binghamton University

  • Nick Bronson, Environmental Science, Ecosystems, OPRHP 
  • Joshua Clinton, Geography & Environmental Studies, OPRHP 
  • Liam Kelley, History, OPRHP  
  • Nathan Lennard, History, OPRHP 

University at Buffalo

  • Anika Byrnes, Environmental Studies and Environmental Design, OPRHP
  • Ella Kehl, Environmental Studies, OPRHP
  • Sanskar Narang, Business Administration/ Finance and Environmental Studies, OPRHP
  • Rufus H. Nguyen-McDowell, Master's Program in Engineering Science (focus in Engineering Sustainability), DPS
  • Tyler Schin, Environmental Studies and Media Studies, DEC
  • Nakshatra Singh, Master's Program in Environmental & Water Resources Engineering, DEC


  • Emily Bridgeford, Master's Program in Environmental Policy, Planning, Communication & Society, OPRHP 
  • Leah Ellender, Master's Program in Climate & Energy, DEC 
  • Savi-Cartier Stewart, Environmental Resources Engineering, OPRHP

SUNY Morrisville

  • Hunter White, Environmental & Natural Resources Management, DEC

SUNY Oswego

  • Clayton Duford, Technology Management, OPRHP
  • Annabelle Raia, Human Resource Management, NYSERDA

SUNY Polytechnic Institute

  • Declan Wheatley, Mechanical Engineering Technology, DEC

Stony Brook University

  • Joseph Caracci, Civil Engineering, OPRHP
  • Danielle Stone, Environmental Design, Policy & Planning, OPRHP

SUNY students will gain experience, knowledge, and skills necessary to excel in the clean technology, energy, circular economy, conservation and environmental regulation sectors of the sustainability field. Through close partnership between SUNY campuses and state agencies, students will take advantage of a crucial opportunity to apply their classroom work and academic research to current environmental issues and gain governmental and policy-making experience. Students will also be mentored by seasoned professionals in the field, granting interns deeper insight into the industry.

Providing paid internships enables students from low-income households, in particular, to take advantage of applied-learning opportunities, which have a high impact on student success and completion. In turn, student interns from disadvantaged frontline communities, who are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and understand related challenges, may contribute to solutions.

Paid internships level the playing field, enabling rising environmental leaders to compete based on their interests, training and qualifications, without being constrained by economic circumstances.

Through $500,000 in funding from Empire State Development, SUNY is removing barriers for the next generation of innovators to contribute to New York state's climate action goals. The program also creates a talent pipeline for partner agencies, offering them a unique opportunity to engage with high-potential students who may become their future employees and leaders.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2023, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit

Share this:


Holly Liapis
Email the Office of Communications