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Ainsley Simmons ’24 leads stormwater management program for summer internship

Ainsley Simmons ’24 takes measurements during an environmental studies course at Randolph. This summer, she’s using those skills while interning with the Mountain Castles Soil and Water Conservation District in Roanoke. 

Thanks to an internship with the Mountain Castles Soil and Water Conservation District in Roanoke, Ainsley Simmons ’24 is putting her education in action this summer. 

“I’ve taken my skills straight from the classroom to the workplace,” said Simmons, an environmental studies major. “I even find myself looking in my notes to find more background information.” 

Simmons is leading the district’s effort to implement the Virginia Conservation Assistance Program (VCAP), which encourages storm water management through cost-share programs that provide financial incentives to property owners. 

She’s working directly with homeowners to educate them about the program and offer advice based on the history of the property, its slope and soil type, and the location of utility lines. 

I love that I am able to go out to people’s homes and create a personal relationship through learning about their lives, what their property means to them, and possible concerns they have, and then having the opportunity to present them with affordable solutions,” she said. 

She’s also worked to advertise the program, reach out to local municipalities, identify local plants, and research Best Management Practices (BMPs)—structural, vegetative, or managerial practices that are used to prevent, reduce, or treat water pollution. 

“My confidence has grown as I’ve educated the public and pitched ideas to homeowners regarding the importance of protecting our water quality and going native,” Simmons said. 

She’ll continue the work through mid-August before returning to Randolph for her senior year. 

“This has taught me new ways to retain information and the importance of understanding a manual,” she said. “I have also gained a large amount of responsibility, since I’m in charge of recording my own hours, creating my own schedule, scheduling site visits, and finding places to advertise the program. I feel like I’ve gained more individuality and have loved the experience.” 

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