#SummerOfPurpose: John Brett

Image of John Brett wading up river with hose

Our #SummerOfPurpose blog series follows this year’s Cleveland Foundation Summer Interns as they spend 11 weeks working with Cleveland-area nonprofit and public sector organizations. In today’s blog, we hear from John Brett, who is working with Chagrin River Watershed Partners, where he supports the assessment of stream and wetland restoration projects in the watershed and beyond. 

Posts - Summer of Purpose - John Brett Headshot John Brett 

College: Ohio State University 

Hometown: Leroy, Ohio 

Internship Host Site: Chagrin River Watershed Partners

I started last week up the creek without a paddle. Luckily, I had waders, a pH meter, and a clipboard. A large portion of my work this summer will be spent in the river like this, assessing past stream restoration projects. Through grant applications, technical experience and tireless effort, Chagrin River Watershed Partners helps protect and maintain the quality of Northeast Ohio waterways, one of the area’s most valuable resources. While I was waist deep in the river, downstream of a modified dam in Chagrin Falls, I couldn’t help but reflect on how I got there.

Collage of three photos shows outdoor projects

I first heard about the Summer Internship Program on Ohio State’s online job board. For me, it was the perfect intersection of all my interests. The exposure to the public and nonprofit sectors of Cleveland, as well as the technical experience I am receiving at CRWP, will be invaluable as I finish studying Biosystems Engineering next year. After I graduate, I hope to get a job in green infrastructure and natural resource management before going back to school. CRWP is the perfect place to prepare me for this work. Just last week, I helped with the installation of three rain gardens in the City of Mentor. These pieces of green infrastructure help improve water quality by reducing storm water runoff and pollution by retaining the water before it gets to the city’s system. Watching these gardens progress from the planning stages to installation really helped me understand the work and thought process behind these projects.

There are few, if any, positions that offer the same network of professional contacts that this internship does. For example, I was recently given the opportunity to be a part of the Cuyahoga County Board of Sustainability strategic planning meeting. Organizations and experts from across the county were there describing the best ways to shape and transform the city so it could continue to thrive. Being able to connect with these people and hear their ideas was an amazing experience.  

I grew up and live outside of Cleveland. However, I love coming into the city to enjoy the restaurants, museums, and parks. I enjoy going on runs on the Metroparks trails and getting food from the West Side Market. This internship has shown me countless programs and individuals who have set out to build something for their communities. Cleveland is home to me and I am excited for its future.