Golf and environmentalism are not often thought of as going hand in hand. But for University of Wisconsin-Green Bay senior Austin Ehlenfeldt, these two passions intersect in shaping his future.
Ehlenfeldt is both a UW-Green Bay golfer and an Environmental Science major. He recently had the opportunity to experience sustainable business practices in a real-world industrial setting.
Ehlenfeldt interned with Phoenix Coaters West located in Beaver Dam, Wis. He worked with the environmental/safety manager to revise the existing respiratory-protection and other employee-safety programs. He spearheaded work on the confined-space entry program and assisted with the hazardous communication training of employees.
“The most important thing I’ve learned was how to write and revise policies in order to protect employees while saving money for a company by having the proper procedures in place,” Ehlenfeldt said.
According to Professor of Natural and Applied Sciences John Katers, Ehlenfeldt’s internship was a necessary step.
“Gaining practical experience through opportunities like internships is critical in the current job market,” Katers said. “It allows companies to see the capabilities of the students first-hand and also allows the students to determine if this is the right career path or company for them.”
Ehlenfeldt agrees that his internship experience was a valuable one.
“The internship gave me an opportunity to understand the different policies in place at a company,” he said. “ I also had an opportunity to learn the importance of employee safety and the different angles OSHA and the DNR may take when checking a facility.”
Ehlenfeldt’s experience has helped him grasp larger concepts in his classes, which is something that Professor Katers has taken notice of.
“Austin is in my Pollution Prevention course this spring, which is an extension of the Pollution Control course in the fall,” Katers said. “Because of his experience in January, he has already been able to provide some practical examples in class this semester in terms of the issues faced by industry and some of the potential opportunities to address these issues.”
Ehlenfeldt’s other passion in life is golf. He transferred to UW-Green Bay from UW-Madison so that he could play golf while studying environmental science. As a person who spends countless hours on the golf course, Ehlenfeldt is aware of the environmental impacts of the game, but feels optimistic about the future of sustainable practices within the golf industry.
“I am definitely aware of the impacts that chemicals used on the golf course have on the ecology and nature surrounding them. There definitely needs to be changes in the amounts and what chemicals are being used. I do know that many golf courses are taking green initiatives by using organic fertilizers and alternate chemicals in place of more dangerous ones,” Ehlenfeldt said.
Ehlenfeldt’s post-graduation plans this May are to be determined. However, he is sure that golf and environmentalism will remain top priorities.
“Playing golf, at the next level is a job in itself and therefore requires the same types of hours as a job for a business or company,” he said. “It is tough to say what lies ahead for me. I am going to continue to work hard in both areas and see what happens.”
Story by Daniele Frechette, editorial intern, Marketing and University Communication