Recycling Offers Hope

“When I saw the sheer volume of stuff diverted from landfills by recycling,” says UMKC senior Jon Matthew, “I was amazed. It gave me hope.”

Matthew’s hope and amazement continued to grow as he gained experience through his internship with Bridging The Gap, a Kansas City fixture linking environmental sustainability to economics and public awareness.

One requirement for UMKC Urban Studies majors is interning with local governments and non-profits. Matthew and others credit UMKC and its urban setting for opportunities like the one he had with BTG, where Matthew did “a little bit of everything” – drafting press releases, recruiting new volunteers, helping with grant research and surveying volunteers on the satisfaction they experienced.

Matthew’s own level of satisfaction is high. As a student, he is grateful for the relaxed dress code at BTG and the flexible schedule that he adapts to his study needs. Moreover, the experience confirms his intention to work in the nonprofit sector after graduation, involving the environment or animal welfare.

“Since kindergarten, when I enrolled in an environmental science magnet school, I have known this is what I want to do. In Urban Studies, under the direction of Dr. Steven Driever, I have found the opportunities and the good advice I wanted. The University has great connections and a solid reputation with KC non-profits.”

Community Partner
From humble beginnings as a recycling center, Bridging The Gap has grown and evolved into an information, education and action front. The center has programs ranging from responsible commuting and shopping locally to prairie and water conservation. With so many initiatives now under way, BTG is grateful for the fresh perspectives from volunteers like Matthew that spark new ideas about their work.

“Our volunteer program has benefited greatly from having an intern as gifted as Jon,” said his BTG supervisor, Laura O’Brien. “He has done an excellent job and often goes above and beyond what I’ve asked. He clearly is here to learn – he asks a lot of questions to understand how the work he is doing fits into volunteer management as a whole. We greatly appreciate the fact that UMKC encourages students to work with community organizations like ours.”