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The Edna Bailey Sussman Fund

Graduate Environmental Internships

The Edna Bailey Sussman Fund was established in 1984 in New York through a bequest from the estate of Margaret Sussman in memory of her mother, Edna Bailey Sussman. Margaret Sussman was a 1934 graduate of Smith College and a successful artist. Her father, Dr. Otto Sussman, was president and director of American Metal Company, the predecessor of AMAX, Inc. later acquired by Freeport McMoran. Margaret Sussman became interested in environmental issues through explorations of the American west with her father. It is fitting that the Edna Bailey Sussman Fund sponsors research and internships that apply hard science to solving existing environmental problems.

The Edna Bailey Sussman Fund supports self-initiated internships for students matriculated in graduate degree programs at "member" US universities, currently: SUNY ESF, the Colorado School of Mines, Duke University, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California at San Diego, the University of Michigan, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Yale University, and Clark University. SUNY ESF graduate students benefit tremendously from continuing generosity of the Edna Bailey Sussman Fund. Between 1985 and 2019, 430 SUNY-ESF graduate students received more than $1.86 million to pursue internships addressing environmental issues.

Internship Requirements

The Edna Bailey Sussman Fund will provide support to students matriculated in graduate programs at SUNY ESF. Internships must meet the following conditions:

  1. The Intern position would not have been filled if the organization had to compensate the Intern out of its own funds.
  2. The Intern will be utilized in an assignment involving the preservation of wildlife, the control of pollution, the preservation of natural land resources, or similar subjects related to the environment of the United States.
  3. The Intern will not be utilized in sales, production, or any other capacity not directly related to the environment.
  4. The Intern will not act as a lobbyist, nor will the host organization be one whose primary function is to lobby.
  5. The Internship will occur in the United States or its territories and have a US-focus.
  6. The Internship will not exclusively take place on the SUNY ESF campus or its properties.
  7. SUNY-ESF may submit a maximum number of proposals that must meet minimal criteria as established by the Campus Coordinator. The maximum number of proposals accepted by the Sussman Trustees is established each year immediately prior to the application deadline. In 2020, ESF was be permitted to submit 10 proposals, each of which were funded; we anticipate making 12 nominations for review in 2021.
  8. As in past years, EBS Trustees are particularly interested in considering proposals relating to the urban environment or climate change.


The Edna Bailey Sussman Fund provides financial support for graduate students who are currently matriculated in graduate degree programs (MS, MF, MLA, MPS, or PhD) at SUNY ESF. Applications from students who are currently applying for admission into graduate programs cannot be accepted. Faculty, staff and undergraduate students are not eligible to apply for Sussman Funds. Students who have been placed upon academic probation are not eligible.

Amount of Support

In 2020, the Sussman Foundation will pay interns a maximum of $15 per hour, for up to 35 hours per week, for 14 weeks.

Students may request support for internships conducted during any time of the year, but most internship proposals request funding within the summer. Students may request support for internships conducted during any time of the year, but most internship proposals request funding in the summer. The Fund does not provide any direct or indirect costs, tuition, scholarships, or health insurance benefits.

Application Requirements

Applicants must submit one digital (PDF) copy of all documents (one single file, please!). You may scan elements such as advisor or internship host letters. The applicant's name should be on each page of the application and on supporting materials. Use standard, basic, copy or printer paper – no tinted or letterhead bond – for the cover, proposal and resume. Please keep file size to a minimum when preparing your final application documents-- this takes some careful attention to detail to achieve (scan external documents in B&W if needed, and always scan at no more than 150 dpi), but the final PDF must NOT exceed 1.5 MB, or they will be disqualified. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed. Please send the digital PDF file via e-mail to sshannon@esf.edu:

  1. Application Cover Page
    Specify the start and end dates of the internship period.
  2. Student prepared proposal that describes the work of the intended internship and how it will contribute to your educational and career goals. How the project will benefit the host organization? How will the Trust be acknowledged? What preparation the student has to undertake the project? Identify the host site supervisor by name and title and describe how the supervisior will evaluate the work. Statements longer than 500 words will not be accepted.
  3. Letter from internship sponsor (agency, institution, laboratory, non-profit, etc.) on organization stationery with original signature of the person who will directly supervise the internship, and should explicity discuss the following: (a) the start and the end date of the internship, (b) the importance of the internship to the host organization, (c) the nature of the work to be accomplished, (d) how the internship will be supervised and evaluated.
  4. Graduate transcript(s) (including current semester)
  5. Undergraduate transcript(s) (including transcripts for transfer credits)
  6. Resume or curriculum vita including work and other experiences relevant to the project.

Final Report

Interns must submit a digital copy of a final report to the Sussman Fund via their university Sussman program manager by the end of the academic year following the internship. A lengthy final report is unnecessary -- generally 3-5 pages is enough.

Process and Deadlines

Deadlines Instructions

Potential 2021 Applicants:November or December 2020

  • Meet with faculty advisor to discuss the potential for appropriate internship experiences.
  • Seek suggestions for possible hosts and supervisors.
  • Seek a host organization. The organization may be public, private, or not-for-profit. It is appropriate for the student to use their academic plan to guide discussions with the potential supervisor at the host organization to reach agreement on the nature of the internship. Go to The ESF Job & Career Services website for suggestions for environmental internship resources: www.esf.edu/jobs

Potential 2021 Applicants: January 2020


Monday, February 1st, 2021 - 11:59pm

submit one (1) digital (PDF only) copy of the complete application due to Dean Scott Shannon, 227 Bray Hall. (e-mail: sshannon@esf.edu)

2 February, 2021 – 28 February, 2021

Campus review of Sussman proposals and notification of proposal revisions to applicants by e-mail.
Mid - March 2021 Internship Award decisions made by Sussman Trustees. Applicants notified by e-mail

December 1, 2021

Final reports due from 2020 Sussman Interns (submitted as MS Word docs via e-mail)

Final Report: Interns must submit a digital copy (MS Word ONLY) of a final report to the Sussman Fund (send e-mail to sshannon@esf.edu) by the deadline at the end of the semester following the internship. A lengthy final report is unnecessary -- generally 3-5 pages are sufficient. Sussman internship reports will be posted below on the ESF Sussman website in January each year. Campus Review: Sussman Internship applications are reviewed first by a campus committee chaired by the Dean of the Graduate School and including up to 4 faculty who have supervised past Sussman Interns. This review process results in narrowing the number of proposals from 25-35 or more, to 12 to be forwarded as official ESF nominations to the Sussman Foundation Trustees in 2021. All final decisions regarding internship awards are made by the Sussman Trustees, and may be fewer than our maximum allocation of 12 submitted proposals.

Criteria for Campus Evaluation

  • Completeness of application
    Are all required materials complete and with original signatures?
  • Cover page
    Are the objectives clear and reasonable? [Objectives are measurable, precise, tangible statements. Goals are general intentions -- do not confuse the goal of the thesis/project with the objectives of the internship] Is the period of work specified and does it match the period indicated by the academic advisor and host supervisor? 
  • Quality of proposal
    Proposals must be 500 words or less, demonstrate good command of the English language in the active verb tense. Proposals must be written for an educated lay-audience, not for scholarly publication or peer review (do not write like an NSF proposal!). Graduate students are expected to write to various audiences and explain in their own words the purpose of their research. If it is necessary and appropriate to include a citation, then the proposal is too technical. Above all, proposals should clearly state a central purpose and/or research hypothesis, followed by a concise work plan articulating the use of sound science, design, and/or best practices to address an environmental issue. For your use, please consider looking at our local evaluation form; this does not provide a hard and fast set of criteria that are foolproof, but should provide greater insight into how the local faculty evaluate the application pool to determine the nominations to be forwarded on to the Sussman Trustees.
  • Quality and strength of letter from Academic Advisor 
    [Faculty advisors must be full-time and eligible to serve as major professors at ESF – adjuncts and instructors are not eligible to serve as Sussman faculty advisors.]
  • Quality and strength of letter from Host Organization 
    [Host must provide detailed support and evidence of direct supervision]
  • Evidence of academic abilities – especially in subject areas directly related to the proposed internship 
    [transcripts that show incomplete or failing grades, or evidence of academic or disciplinary action will not be considered]
  • Reasonable duration of internship 
    [internships for a full-time, 14 week duration will be given priority. There is NO benefit to proposing less than the full-14 weeks and the funds needed to support that time period]

Remember, Sussman will not support work conducted at ESF, or its properties, or outside the US or its territories.