Rich Earth Institute

Internship Opportunity

Nutrients in wastewater can lead to harmful algal blooms that affect 70% of U.S. waters. Current

approaches to removing these nutrients from wastewater are energy-intensive and costly. Synthetic fertilizer production processes emit greenhouse gasses and require scarce inputs. Using urine as a fertilizer addresses shortcomings of both the wastewater and fertilizer sector. Urine is an ideal “waste” stream because it contains the majority of the nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in domestic wastewater, but makes up only 1% of its volume.

Rich Earth Institute:

The Rich Earth Institute, located in Brattleboro, VT, operates the first Urine Nutrient Reclamation Project in the US, turning human urine into fertilizer. As a research and demonstration project, it recycles approximately 12,000 gallons of human urine annually for farms in Southern Vermont to apply as fertilizer.  Incorporated in 2012, the Institute is a non-profit with the mission:  to engage in research, education and technological innovation to advance the use of human waste as a resource.

Internship Description:

This internship is an enriching opportunity for those interested in issues of water conservation, pollution prevention, waste management and/or sustainable agriculture. The specific tasks or projects will be determined by the skills and interests of the intern in collaboration with our internship coordinator. Some example tasks are listed on the backside of this page.

Current Rich Earth Projects include:

  • Lab and field trials examining the best methods to reduce ammonia losses during fertilizer application
  • Research and Lab trials using biochar derived from biosolids as a soil amendment
  • Demonstration garden
  • Social research concerning attitudes, values and beliefs among a range of stakeholders with
  • regard to diverting urine from the waste stream and its use as a fertilizer.
  • Literature review in these areas
  • Agricultural research concerning best practices for use of urine on different crops
  • Literature review in these areas
  • Outreach and educational activities
  • Urine Donor Recruitment
  • Administrative/Fund-raising activities
  • Technical Tools/Building/Operations and Maintenance

 Desired Qualifications:

  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team;
  • Enthusiastic, collaborative and flexible attitude;
  • Research skills and experience a plus, in either natural or social sciences;
  • Ability to execute tasks/procedures with precision and accuracy; and
  • Strong oral and written communication skills

To Apply

  • Email a resume and cover letter describing your interest and experience to [email protected]

Examples of Internship Tasks/Projects:

Garden & Community Outreach

  • Assist with demonstration garden management and maintenance
  • Document garden (photo, video, audio, etc) for public communication
  • Disseminate & analyze ‘Urine My Garden’ community science survey


  • Conduct grant prospect research
  • Assist with grant writing
  • Assist with fundraising & annual appeal
  • Support coordination and implementation of Rich Earth Events

Social Research

  • Audio transcription
  • Survey dissemination & analysis
  • Literature review
  • Assist with recruitment for and facilitation of listening sessions/dialogue groups
  • Assist with development of interview/dialogue group protocols


  • Contribute to regulatory changes involving utilizing human waste as a resource

Social Media & Web Development

  • Research and develop comprehensive digital engagement strategies
  • Design and conduct social media campaigns


  • Translate Rich Earth materials into Spanish (home use guide, community manual)
  • Disseminate to Spanish Language Eco-San networks

Product Design & Sales

  • Assist with maintenance of web store & product dissemination