Right Track Internships

Since 2017 IonE has partnered with the City of St. Paul’s Right Track job oppourtunity program to offer summer internships to St. Paul high school students and recent graduates. Right Track aims to combat youth unemployment and educational achievement gaps by exposing youth to a wide variety of career paths and offering meaningful professional experience with local businesses and community organizations.
At IonE we believe that building a future “in which people and the environment prosper together” requires educating and empowering the next generation of leaders. Through participating in Right Track at IonE, our interns hone valuable professional skills, gain exposure to career possibilities in research and the environment,and work as part of a welcoming and purpose-driven team. Beyond professional skills, they learn alongside world-class researchers and leaders working to solve complex environmental problems, and deepen their own vision of a sustainable and prosperous future.
Each of our interns is motivated by unique educational and career goals, and they each bring unique experiences and skills to their work. The projects they work on are just as diverse, ranging from crafting engaging social media strategies to mentoring children in environmental camps to preparing literature reviews for researchers.

While the interns are developing new capabilities, they are also bringing new ways of looking at familiar questions, sharing their unique experiences, and helping everyone at IonE expand our vision of the contributions that dedicated young people can make to the work of building a sustainable future. We’re grateful for having had the chance to get to know two cohorts of developing leaders so far over their nine-week internships – and excited to see the impact they make as they continue their education and career as leaders.

Interested in working as a Right Track intern at IonE or elsewhere? Keep on eye on the Right Track website for more information on applications for next year’s internships.

Current and Past Interns


Najma Ali graduated from Central Senior High in May and is looking forward to beginning the next stage of her education this fall as a student at the University of Minnesota, studying Biology, Society & Environment. After her time at the U, Najma plans to pursue a career in medicine. She joined us with a wealth of professional experience already, having completed three previous internships with Right Track that gave her experience in public relations, community development, and human rights advocacy. As part of the Sustainability Education team at IonE she is drawing on her experience to support student sustainability programming, spending her time gathering data, creating social media strategies, and learning about sustainability from her supportive supervisors.

Mohamed Abdi has returned to IonE a second time after completing an internship with us last summer. After graduating from high school in 2017, Mohamed has been studying computer science at Saint Paul College. Last year Mohamed impressed us all with his dedication and willingness to explore unfamiliar and complex scientific topics in his work helping his supervisor Barrett Colombo and the Global Landscapes Initiative create cutting-edge briefings on the global food system. In his second year at IonE, Mohamed hopes to connect with even more of IonE’s staff and learn about their research and leadership work.

Lucille Omwena is drawing on her passion and experience with chemistry in her work with the NorthStar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise at IonE. During her junior year of high school, Lucille interned with 3M’s Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing division, gaining exciting lab experience that convinced her to continue studying chemistry. She’s definitely drawing on that familiarity with chemistry and research as she’s creating literature reviews to support her NorthStar team’s research into methane emissions. This fall, she’ll begin her bachelor’s degree at St. Catherine University, studying her favorite subject, chemistry.

 Betsy Vue is supporting the Natural Capital team by familiarizing herself with relevant literature and creating organization systems to guide next steps in their research. Betsy graduated from Harding Senior High this spring, where she was actively involved in student leadership and academic achievement program. In fall, she’ll begin her undergraduate studies at Hamline University; she’s interested in all sorts of science and considering a major in forensic science.


Mohamed Abdi was a senior at Como Park Senior High School. Mohamed worked at IonE as the Food Matters Intern. He plays Soccer outside of his job, and also plays video games when he has free time. He likes to be around his family. After high School Mohamed hopes to go Saint Paul College to learn Business Administration.

Jaraide Dossavi worked as a Climate Smart intern at IonE with Martina Grecequet. Jaraide was responsible for updates of agenda, researching background information on field trips, participating in meetings with staff involved in projects and translators and responding to ad-hoc requests/questions about Twin cities and Minnesota State. In his free time he enjoys being outdoors, gardening and studying eastern philosophy.

Mellisa Ofori was a recent high school graduate from Como Park Senior High and an Intern at the Institute on the Environment. She assisted the Natural Capital and Acara team. After her internship she began her studies at the University of Minnesota, Duluth and is majoring in Biology with a track in Dentistry. This was her 3rd year working with the Right Track program and she believes it set her on the right track for the future. She gained professional and communications skills from her internships which she will use as a stepping stone for future endeavors.

Tina Thao was a senior student at Harding Senior High school. She worked with the Sustainability Education team at IoneE. Outside of work, she loves to be active outdoors and spend time with friends and family. In school she works hard to maintain a 4.0 GPA, is very involved in school activities by serving as the Treasurer in National Honor Society and Vice President for Student Council. In the future, Tina hopes to be become an Conservation Officer with natural resources or a Physical Therapist.