URI Interns


Summer 2016 Greenspace Interns

We have a wonderful crew of community foresters supporting our 50+ Community Greenspace sites in 2016.

Alex Sernyak (Newhallville, Westville, East Shore)

Delilah Griswold (Fair Haven, Dwight, East Rock)

Elias Estabrook (The Hill, Beaver Hills, Newhallville, Downtown, Cedar Hill)

Erik Ndayishimiye (Annex,Fair Haven, Newhallville, West Rock)

Lauren Griffith (Dixwell, Wooster Square, Newhallville, The Hill, East Rock)

Max Webster (The Hill, Newhallville, Dwight, Westville)

Peter Wyrsch (The Hill, Fair Haven, Edgewood, West River)


Spring 2016 GreenSkills Interns (High School Team Leaders)

Matthew Viens
Carolyn DeSchiffart
Eleanor Marshall
Elias Estabrook
Elizabeth Creech
Sarah Gilbert
Veronica Chang



Fall 2015 GreenSkills Interns

Carolyn DeSchiffart
Connor Hogan
Eleanor Marshall
Elias Estabrook
Elizabeth Creech
Katherine "Kassie" Urban-Mead
Kristina Thorson
Louisa Cone
Matthew Viens
Maxwell Webster
Olivia Pearman
Oluwakemi Michael-Noah
Rachelle Graham
Ryan Mera Veras
Sarah Gilbert
William Klein

Summer 2015 Greenspace Interns

From L to R:

Angel Hertslet (Fair Haven, West River, Edgewood, Newhallville)

Ryan Mera-Evans (Hill, Newhallville, Fair Haven, Annex/East Shore)

Elisa Iturbe (Newhallville, Fair Haven, Fair Haven Heights, East Rock, Dixwell)

Ross Bernet (Fair Haven, Newhallville, Downtown)

Anthony (Tony) Mecum (Newhallville, Beaver Hills, East Rock)

Matthew Viens (Hill, Westville, Newhallville)

Uma Bhandaram (Dwight, Wooster Square, Beaver Hills, Newhallville, East Shore)

Spring 2015 GreenSkills Interns

 When Abigail Carney isn't planting trees, she writes. Her folk musical, Dust Can't Kill Me, was produced at the New York International Fringe Festival last summer.

Yoni Glogower is a first year Masters of Forestry student at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. He enjoys trees, books about trees, and embroidery art projects that feature trees.

Rachel Plawecki is a second-year Master of Forestry student from Detroit, MI who started the FES program directly after undergrad. She is interested in communications, outreach, and policy related to forestry and land conservation.

Tony Mecum is a second year Master of Forestry student interested in Urban Forestry.  He hopes to work with communities to improve their green spaces in order to promote community engagement and revitalization as our population becomes more urbanized. 

Sarah Gilbert mostly studies spiritual poetry at yale college and wants to be a subsistence farmer.  Her favorite kind of tree is the laurel so if you find one in New Haven, let her know. 

Emma Akrawi is a recent graduate of Yale College and incoming 1-year Master of Environmental Management student at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. She is interested in sustainable food and education, and has spent the last year working as an environmental educator with a variety of environmental organizations, doing everything from teaching 2nd graders about the Yale Farm to serving as a deckhand and educator on an 80-foot sailboat in Long Island Sound.

Our spring 2015 crew also included James Stephenson, Olivia Pearman, Martha Longley, and Gabriela Baeza-Castaneda.


Summer 2014 Greenspace Interns

We have a wonderful crew supporting our 50+ Community Greenspace sites in 2014. 

Sumana Serchan, see 2013 interns 

Mariana Lo (center of photo below) grew up in the hi-tech suburbs of the San Francisco Bay Area, and holds a B.A. in linguistics from the University of Chicago. She is currently a Master of Environmental Management student at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. Mariana is interested in the complementarity between social justice and ecological health and in debunking the myth of "people vs. nature", so an internship with URI is a great opportunity to put all that book-learning into practice! Prior to Yale, she lived and worked at Bethlehem Farm, a nonprofit and intentional Catholic community in rural West Virginia. There she fixed roofs, pulled weeds, taught high schoolers how to use power tools, witnessed the symphony-inspiring beauty of the Appalachian spring, and generally enjoyed a back-to-the-land lifestyle. This somehow inspired her to apply to grad school. When not working, Mariana likes to play piano, bake bread, read at improbably fast speeds, and stop to smell the flowers.

Katie Beechem is a student in the Master of Forestry program at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.  Spending most of her childhood climbing trees and exploring creeks in Nashville, TN, Katie’s fixation with the outdoors began early.  After working for a summer on a trail crew in southern Oregon, Katie pursued a degree in biology from Goucher College in Baltimore, MD.  She became a member of the first class of Chesapeake Conservation Corps volunteers in 2010, and later worked for three years with Baltimore County’s Forest Sustainability Program.  These experiences served to illuminate the importance of nature and outdoor engagement for human health – particularly psychological well-being and social cohesion.  Katie continues to explore these connections as an urban forestry scholar, and she is overjoyed to deepen her understanding this summer as a community forester intern with URI.

Mesha Arant is an incoming third year Master of Divinity student at Yale Divinity School. Before moving to Connecticut, she received her B.A. in Religious Studies from Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina.  Although the majority of her academic career has been focused on Religious Studies and Sociology, she is excited to put her love of the environment to use with URI. This summer Mesha is not only interested in working with URI to learn more about urban ecology but is also excited to learn about how environmental restoration can be used as a tool for community building and unity.  URI combines her love of science, the environment, and social wellbeing, and she is enthusiastic about what this summer will offer.

Rachelle Graham is an undergraduate student at Yale College in the Environmental Studies Program.  Originally from Sault Ste Marie, Canada, Rachelle grew up hiking and camping in the Lake Superior and Lake Huron Parks. She spent her summers working for a local landscaping crew as well as working as a camp counsellor for a summer science camp. While at Yale, she worked with high school students through GreenSkills during her sophomore spring semester. Planting trees with the high school students was such a rewarding experience that she decided to continue on with Greenspace for the summer.  After her graduation in 2016, she hopes to study at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Hello, I am Michael Bruno, currently going to be a junior at the University of Connecticut pursing a major in Landscape Architecture. I am also involved with the UConn Outing Club and UConn Boxing club. I was born and raised in New Haven, and attended Common Ground High School. During my years at Common Ground I was involved with Urban Resource Initiative , and working with kids during the school year and as a summer camp counselor. My future plans are to eventually become a landscape architect and beautify homes, neighborhoods, and cities while using Low Impact Design to decrease the environmental impact.

James Stephenson studies at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.  He worked with URI's GreenSkills team during the school year. (not pictured)

Summer 2013 Greenspace Interns


Born and raised in Nepal, Sumana Serchan came to the United States aspiring to be a dentist. However, her close encounter with trees and beavers while volunteering with the local park district in Burlington, Vermont motivated her desire to learn more in depth about the natural world and ecology. With these aspirations, she did her undergraduate studies in resources ecology at the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont. After finishing her undergraduate studies and working with the Smithsonian Institution in Virginia and Panama as field assistant, she wanted to know how conservation of natural resources and community development and building could be accomplished together. This brought her to Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies where her focus has primarily been on natural resources management, community forests and non-timber forest products management. Her work with URI has allowed her to pursue her dreams- working closely with community members in natural resources management. In the future, she hopes to bring the successful working framework of URI in the most urbanized city of her birth country.




Jancy Langley

Angela Hui is a rising senior in Yale College majoring in Environmental Studies.  She was first drawn to URI as a volunteer with the organization her freshman year and is excited to spend the summer bringing more of that impact to New Haven.  In addition to learning about tree species, Angela enjoys reading, playing tennis, and travelling.  After graduation, she hopes to continue her study of the natural environment in a Master's program at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.



Bailey Johansen


Bailey Johansen moved out of the state of Iowa for the first time when she moved to Connecticut. Here she has found the drivers to be wilder, the landscape to be more colorful, and the winters to be just as strong! Recently Bailey completed the first year of her Master of Forestry at F&ES focusing on the field of urban forestry. During this first year she worked for URI Greenskills with both the high school and adult crews, but is excited to start working directly with community members on their own projects! She looks forward to planting countless numbers of trees and hostas, while also discovering hidden treasures throughout New Haven—mainly delicious places to eat!


Yiwen Gong

Yiwen Gong is a first year MEM student with interests in urban ecology, green infrastructure, and city sustainability. Her passion for the beauty of nature and the art of landscape design was nurtured under the influence of her mother who founded her own landscape design and urban planning company in a small city in southwest China, where the city has experienced rapid economic development for the past 20 years. At the same time, she realized that China’s fast urbanization accompanied by serious damage of urban ecological environment has largely reduced urban capacity and healthy development of society. Yiwen believes that the creation of sustainable city landscapes and urban green spaces should be the rescue strategy of many developing countries. Yiwen had a great summer working with URI; the work-study internship provides her better understanding of urban landscapes, urban environmental issues, and community-based land stewardship.


Tom Owens is a Masters of Environmental Management student at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies focusing on public policy and coalition building to shift the US from fossil fuels to renewable energy and energy efficiency. In 2006, Tom graduated from Virginia Tech with a BS in Biochemistry. He went on to work for a number of progressive organizations including Energy Action Coalition, Avaaz, and Repower America.  Prior to coming to Yale, Tom spent a year travelling through the Middle East, Asia, and National Parks in the American West.  Tom spent the summer of 2012 researching community-led renewable energy development in Brazil and the summer of 2013 working with the Urban Resources Initiative in New Haven, CT.



 Summer 2012 Greenspace Interns

Jancy Langley

Jancy Langley came to URI directly after a two year stint as a Peace Corps volunteer in northern Morocco where she served as a community-based environmental educator. She plans to continue her study of Moroccan environmental and cultural themes in her masters thesis at F&ES beginning this fall. Jancy grew up in Austin, Texas—where trees are short and boots are tall—was educated at Barnard College, Columbia University, and loves her first taste of life in Connecticut—where trees are tall and second person plural pronouns don’t exist.


Kanchan Shrestha

Kanchan Shrestha recently graduated with a Master's in Environmental Science from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Before coming to Yale she worked at an environmental NGO in Nepal as a Program Coordinator and at United Nations Mission in Nepal over the period of three years while exploring central and eastern Nepal. She was working with the Bureau of Land Management in Battle Mountain, Nevada where she discovered her interest in rivers and forests. She received her Bachelor's degree in Biology from the University of Texas, Arlington.


Bridget Teevan

Bridget Teevan from Newington, Connecticut, graduated from the University of Connecticut in May 2011 where she majored in environmental science concentrating in environmental health sciences. She recently completed her first year at the Yale School of Public Health where she is studying environmental health. She is excited to be working with URI this summer to have a chance to apply public health concepts to the environment of New Haven and to build on her existing knowledge and skills. In her free time, she enjoys geocaching, running, reading, riding her bike, playing soccer, and spending time with friends and family. She is looking forward to getting to work alongside members of the New Haven community and getting to know the city better!


Alisa May

Alisa May was born in Odessa, Ukraine and raised in Los Angeles, where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture. As a graduate student at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, she studied relationships between buildings, cities and ecology. She now holds a Master of Environmental Management and one of her current projects is designing an orphanage in Haiti. Alisa brings her passion for urban, social, and environmental causes to her work for the Urban Resources Initiative.



Jaimini Parekh

Jaimini Parekh recently graduated from the Master of Environmental Management Program at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. She is interested in how human rights can be used as a policy instrument for promoting greater human dignity and sustainability. Prior to coming to Yale, she worked as an AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer with the Program for Torture Victims in Los Angeles where she focused on resource development. She has also worked on urban forestry and community building in Oakland, CA and human rights issues in New Delhi, India. She holds a B.S. in Society and Environment from the University of California, Berkeley.


Katherine Romans

Katherine Romans recently finished her first year at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, where she is pursuing a masters in environmental management. Originally from Alexandria, Virginia, Katherine moved to New Haven from Washington, D.C. where she worked for a member of the House of Representatives. In addition to watching urban street trees grow, Katherine loves music, travel and cooking. She is excited to spend the summer working outdoors, and is hoping for a Connecticut summer that is as mild as the most recent Connecticut winter.


Brian Tang

Brian Tang has been an urban forester since high school when he volunteered as a neighborhood trees crew leader in Portland, OR.  He began volunteering with Community Greenspace three weeks after moving to New Haven. He continued volunteering with both the SoHu and Upper State Street planting groups and now serves on the boards of two New Haven non-profits.  Brian graduated with a B.A. in environmental studies in May and has no plans to move away from New Haven. 



2011 URI Greenspace Interns

Amy Zvonar, Greenspace 2011
Amy Zvonar
(New Haven, CT)

Cathy Le, Greenspace 2011
Cathy Le

Gillian Baine, Greenspace 2011
Gillian Baine
 (New Haven, CT)

Nike Adeyeye, Greenspace 2011
Adenike Adeyeye
Research and Policy Analyst, Earthjustice (Oakland, California)

Lara Browning, Greenspace 2011
Lara Browning

MacKenzie Brown, Greenspace 2011
Mackenzie Brown