Having grown up on a hobby farm in Central Minnesota, Aria Kapsner always enjoyed being outside. Her love for nature followed her to the University of Minnesota in Crookston, where she’s currently pursuing a degree in natural science. This summer, working as a field services intern at RMB Environmental Laboratories Inc., she managed to find a paying summer job where she can work outside for hours a time.
“Being in the field, learning about different plant identification and how to use certain equipment, it’s quite rewarding,” Kapsner said.
With three labs across the state, RMB provides a variety of environmental services, but specializes in water compliance and assessment monitoring.
During a recent virtual trip to RMB’s Detroit Lakes facility, Tracy Borash, one half of RMB’s husband and wife founding team, talked about the seasonal nature of their business and the effect that has on their finances. When everything freezes over in the winter, business -- and their profits -- tend to go down.
“The funds that are available to us through SciTech helps us bring in great quality students, and we just really appreciate that assistance,” Borash said.
RMB has relied on the SciTech Internship Program to hire talent for the summer since 2017. A state-funded program, SciTech reimburses participating companies for half of the wages paid to the interns they hire, making it easier for small businesses to get the help they need while offering meaningful work experiences to the students involved.
State Representative Anne Claflin, a member of the House Jobs committee with a background in science, joined the SciTech team for the visit and recalled the lab internships that she had when she was a student. Claflin took the opportunity to ask RMB’s interns about how this experience has influenced their future education goals.
“I never thought I’d want to take courses related to water resources,” Kapsner admitted. “But after working here and learning how important even surface water and drinking water is, that’s something I’ve thought about more and added it to my coursework this upcoming semester.”
Kapsner is joined by Carly Mahoney and Casey Johnson as this summer's RMB interns. This was Mahoney’s second year working as a laboratory intern.
“They did a really great job training me last year and I felt really comfortable with everything, but I knew there was more I wanted to learn in the lab,” Mahoney said. “So that’s why I came back this summer, so I could learn something new.”
Mahoney went from assisting an analyst last summer to running her own experiments this year.
“Having interns is a breath of fresh air. They give our full-time staff a break,” Borash said. “When Aria started in May, we could hardly breathe. We can’t wait for these students to come in. And once they do we hit the ground running with them. These students are so excited and so mold-able. They come in here and they want to gather information so they can build on things and apply what they’re learning in school. I just love their personalities and their excitement.”
For more information about SciTech's small business internship programs, visit SciTechMN.org.