On the job | Kailee Sisounthone & Allison Seamon

| Kailee Sisounthone and Allison Seamon
Kai and Allison smiling at the camera in high vis vests with the DEOHS Summer Jobs logo on it.

DEOHS undergraduates Kailee Sisounthone and Allison Seamon worked in 13 Seattle-area communities this summer educating people about recycling. Photo courtesy of Sisounthone and Seamon.

Summer of sustainability: DEOHS undergraduate students educate communities on recycling

Editor’s note: This summer, 20 DEOHS undergraduate students are getting hands-on experience as interns with health agencies, nonprofits and private companies. In our occasional “On the Job” series, we feature some of their stories.

What should I do with clamshell plastics? Where does my trash go after it's picked up at my house? Why can’t plastic bags go in the recycling cart?

Everyone has questions about recycling. As summer interns for WM – one of the largest recyclers in North America – our job was to have answers.

During our summer internship with the WM Recycle Corps, one of the greatest experiences was being out in the field. We worked in 13 communities around Seattle. One day, we might help an apartment complex manager deal with mattresses tossed in the recycling dumpster (bad idea!).

The next day, we could be helping businesses train employees to not put recyclables in plastic bags. (Plastic bags get tangled in the machines at the recycling facilities, so return them to grocery stores that recycle them, put them in the garbage or use a reusable bag!).

Key takeaway: When we talk with people about garbage, recycling and composting, it truly feels like we’re making a positive impact.

Allison's reflection

This internship allowed me to see the gaps in environmental education and health disparities due to environmental factors. Socioeconomic status may relate to the amount of recycling awareness in some areas, where recycling may not be a priority compared to paying rent or buying groceries.

Deohs summer intern neon illustration

Kailee Sisounthone and Allison Seamon

BS in Environmental Health


Pasco, WA, and San Jose, CA

Internship with:


The WM education team focuses on making recycling education accessible by fostering diverse voices on the intern team and using recycling guides and posters with culturally appropriate visuals to engage diverse communities. 

Kai's reflection

I’ve always been interested in sustainability and the solid waste industry. Through this internship, I learned how things get sorted at recycling facilities, what happens after items leave the recycling facility and how landfills work.

I also learned many skills, like data entry, doing waste audits and how to communicate with people from different backgrounds. I’ve learned there are many disparities around resources to help manage solid waste, which is why I believe this work is important. 



Arlington street fair
Allison (far left) and Kai (next to Allison) working at the Arlington Street fair with the Public Works team from the City of Arlington.


With man on stilts at a fair
Allison and Kai pose with the Stilts Man at the Arlington Street Fair.
Kai in front of door
Kai hangs a recycling tote bag for apartment residents in Auburn to keep plastic bags out of recycling containers.
Allison talking to a customer at a fair
Allison talks with an event-goer about garbage, recycling and composting at Gold Dust Days in the city of Gold Bar.


all of the summer interns and their project manager
Kai (far left) and Allison (far right) with two Recycle Corps interns and the property manager of a Redmond apartment complex distributing recycle tote bags.


Bremerton distributing information about recycling
Kai in Bremerton, attaching cart tags to encourage residential composting.



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