Skip to main content

My name is Alex Perez, and I am the new program intern at the Minnesota Clean Water Action Office in Minneapolis! I was born and raised in Eden Prairie, and I am currently going into my junior year at the University of Kansas (KU) where I major in Environmental Studies and minor in Business and Spanish. In my free time, I enjoy playing Ultimate Frisbee and spending time with my friends in both Kansas and here in Minnesota.

From a young age, my parents always strongly encouraged me to appreciate the environment and understand how our actions as humans affected our surroundings. As a Cub, Boy, and eventually Eagle Scout for 11 years, I was able to appreciate our natural world and build on the foundation my parents started when I was little. On top of this, my father Luis Perez also works as an outsourced controller for various nonprofits throughout the Twin Cities area such as neighborhood organizations which also helped to make me more aware of various issues in my community. These elements combined and led me to my major choice, helping shape what I wanted to do in the postsecondary world and beyond in the professional realm.

As long-time Clean Water Action members, my parents attended one of the Minnesota office’s pub crawl events earlier this summer. Through them I was able to learn about the position of program intern and realize how well Clean Water Action’s mission tied into my background. After realizing how my goals aligned with those of the organization and then applying to the position, I am excited to get started and share my talents!

My more recent background has also helped me in the identification of my goals, and throughout my past two years of education at the University of Kansas I have had the opportunity to learn from many fantastic professors about the state of our environment, specifically through the lens of environmental justice. This past semester, I was fortunate enough to take Environmental History with Dr. Alex Boynton, where we were able to discuss a strong portion of the class through with the perspective of environmental justice. One of our pieces of course materials was the book Wastelanding by Dr. Traci Brynn Voyles which discussed the unfair treatment of the Navajo in the Four Corners area of the US due to uranium mining over the past century. Through my reading and discussion of the book, I was able to not only understand the plight of native people but also learn how larger actions at the state and federal level effect individuals and communities. With this experience in my back pocket, I am excited to be able to apply this to my work in our community here in the Twin Cities and create lasting change for our neighbors.

Earlier in the fall of 2022, I was also able to take Environmental Geopolitics which was co-taught by two very experienced faculty at the university in Dr. Shannon O’Lear and Tammy Albin. Dr. O’Lear was instrumental in implementing her concept of Environmental Geopolitics and how claims by governments, companies and other interested groups can be viewed and evaluated through the lens of interaction between the environment and humans, which I am excited to be able to apply my research and work at Clean Water Action. On the other hand, Tammy was a wealth of knowledge on how to conduct precise and in-depth research which I have and will continue to use as I delve into topics during my time this summer. Additionally, Dr. O’Lear’s class helped me hone my skills in picking apart claims put forth by various groups that may seem to be in favor of protecting or advocating for the environment but with analysis only amplify these groups’ self-interests. While here at Clean Water Action I am eager to apply this ability during my work on action items for the legislature and as I collaborate with other organizations in our coalitions.

During my time as program intern, I am looking forward to being able to dive into environmental advocacy work and create tangible change. I strongly identify with Clean Water Action's work in Minnesota to bring awareness to and regulate PFAS due to its prevalence throughout our daily lives. In addition, I would also like to bring additional awareness to marginalized communities who are unfairly affected by processes such as the Hennepin County Energy Recovery Center (HERC) and other concentrated harms. I intend to continue learning about these issues from the community members’ perspectives but also produce change via advocacy and creating ideas for future legislation. Additionally, I hope to be able to work in tandem with others to generate projects that further Clean Water Action’s mission and extend outreach to create a stronger supporter base here in my home state. I eagerly await this opportunity and am excited to begin my work as program intern!