Kaitlyn Yonge was the first University of Saskatchewan (USask) student to participate in the Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) sustainability internship.

SENS Undergraduate Certificate in Sustainability Sees Internship Program with Federated Co-operatives Limited Enter Second Year

After a successful launch to the program last year, another undergraduate student studying sustainability will have the opportunity to apply their knowledge and develop practical experience through an internship with Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL).

By SENS Communications

The Certificate in Sustainability offered by the School of Environment and Sustainability (SENS) is a valuable addition to any undergraduate degree, allowing students to develop marketable sustainability knowledge. The certificate is taken concurrently as part of a degree program; students can select a focus area of Natural Resources, Community, or Food Systems that best aligns with their studies. Since launching in 2014, students from five different colleges and 18 degree programs have completed the certificate.

The certificate offers in-depth understanding of what sustainability is, from foundational principles to practicing sustainability, incorporating the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, as well as Indigenous learning. The Sustainability in Action capstone course puts the learnings from the certificate into motion, allowing students to choose a sustainability issue they feel passionate about and develop a real-world solution. The legacy of many of these projects can be seen on campus today.

The SENS certificate program offers a foundation for a future where sustainability isn’t a side note, but the first consideration in decision making, with interdisciplinarity being a focus.

The FCL-SENS internship is an eight-month paid work placement for undergraduate students working towards, or having freshly completed the certificate program and its capstone course (ENVS 401/EVSC 485). The internship gives undergraduate students who are interested in sustainability a unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience in industry. Working within FCL will immerse students in the sustainability challenges affecting numerous commodities and sectors of the economy, where creativity and teamwork are highly valued in supporting sustainability initiatives.

Building community connections at FCL

“The FCL-SENS internship has connected me to a community of sustainability minded professionals within the Sustainability Department,” said Kaitlyn Yonge, recent BSA graduate in Environmental Science and inaugural Sustainability Intern. “Outside of the Sustainability Department, I have been able to connect with many departments across FCL including Agriculture, Home and Building Solutions, Operations, Logistics, Marketing, Communications, Food and Energy. These interactions have allowed me to see the importance of sustainability in all areas of a business, and how diverse sustainability can be. Additionally, I have made connections in the broader sustainability community through the many sustainability task forces and working groups that FCL sits on. Participation in these groups has allowed me to network with others who work in sustainability and integrated me as a member of the sustainability community across Western Canada.”

Kaitlyn Yonge, FCL-SENS Sustainability Intern

“Seeing a student going from your class one day, to working in the industry just weeks later, to returning to the class the following year with a full-time job having launched her career is a remarkable feeling. The breadth of the capabilities that Kaitlyn has illustrated, not only in our past class, but to our industry partners, illustrates that the internship is filling a need in the real world with the life lessons gained from the Certificate in Sustainability,” says Dr. Colin Laroque, Professor in Soil Science, and instructor in the Certificate in Sustainability capstone course since its inception in 2014.

Emerging Opportunities for Sustainability Professionals

At FCL, the Sustainability Department works to aid local Co-ops and FCL entities in eliminating waste, reducing emissions, promoting regeneration, and purchasing responsibly.

“Sustainability is rapidly being integrated into the corporate world. Through this internship I have had the opportunity to be immersed in multiple new and emerging sustainability initiatives. This work term has given me the unique opportunity to aid in the development of sustainability projects and practices at FCL, including Greenhouse Gas Emissions calculation, Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) reporting, as well as plastics tracking and reduction,” said Kaitlyn, who recently transitioned to a position as Sustainability Coordinator with FCL. “Through my internship I have had the opportunity to work in and learn about all of these areas. The Sustainability Department has supported my professional learning and growth, providing mentorship from the whole team. They invested in seeing me succeed and allowed me to take on learning opportunities that align with my interests. The FCL-SENS internship is unique in that FCL’s diversity offers exposure to a multitude of sustainability concepts, allowing for focus in the areas that interest you.”

Kaitlyn offers some advice to current USask undergraduate students. “I highly recommend registering in ENVS 401/485 and the SENS Certificate in Sustainability. My internship experience has highlighted to me the integration of sustainability into all aspects of industry. Thus, foundational knowledge of sustainability can be an asset and differentiator on your resume, especially at the start of your career. The sustainability-related courses I took in my undergraduate degree, specifically ENVS 401/485, set me up with the foundations for success in the FCL-SENS internship. Likewise, the internship has given me the knowledge, skills, and industry connections to kickstart a successful career in the sustainability industry.”

For more information about the internship opportunity, or for inquiries about the Certificate in Sustainability, please contact Colin Whitfield (colin.whitfield@usask.ca).