Lois Durant '20 This past summer, environmental studies major Lois Durant ’20 had the opportunity to get hands-on experience working in the nonprofit sector for Environment Texas. Durant says that her passion for environmental law began in her hometown of Bee Cave, Texas, when she witnessed large corporations moving in and uprooting family-owned farms. She says that this “pushed me to pursue the best possible route in order to make real change in favor of environmental protection, which is environmental litigation.”

Her love of the environment is what led to Durant’s first experience with Environment Texas, where she worked during the summer of 2018 as a canvass field manager. Durant stated that as a canvasser, she worked to generate political power across Austin zip codes for environmental and public issues. After her position as a canvasser, Durant decided to further her campaign actions and apply for an internship working alongside lobbyists in the summer of 2019 to see how much her fundraising and rallying really affected the campaign. 

Durant described her internship this summer as heavily research based: most days, she read case studies and prepared factsheets for the lobbyists at Environment Texas to use. Alongside this invaluable work experience, Durant had the opportunity to meet multiple public officials who were well-versed in environmental policy. Durant shares that her most memorable experience was in fact meeting these officials that “truly cared about environmental action in politics.” Durant found it extremely refreshing to have positive conversations with state senators and representatives who believed in the work she was conducting at Environment Texas.

Durant realized that the work she did “was instrumental in making the big, showy litigation effective.”

To top off this incredible experience, Durant attained invaluable knowledge about what working in the nonprofit sector is like. She remembers feeling that her position was “small and unimportant.” While she was given tasks to do, she was struggling to see the true impact of her work. However, after some consideration, she realized that she was a small part of a large and meaningful operation. Durant realized that the work she did “was instrumental in making the big, showy litigation effective.” She remarks that she will take this lesson, as well as the countless others she learned, with her into any future position, whether it is in the nonprofit sector or not.

Lois Durant '20

After completing this internship, Durant feels that she can continue to fight for environmental policy, just as she did many years ago protesting in Bee Cave. However, with the experience in environmental litigation she gained interning with Environment Texas, she can now go forward and inspire change in even more powerful and effective ways. Durant hopes she can continue to work for nonprofits like Environment Texas, where she can “continue to fight for fair public policy and protected environmental values in Texas.”

As Southwestern University seeks to provide these life-changing experiences to all students, we invite you to make a gift to the High-Impact Experience Fund. High-impact experiences are defined as internships, student–faculty research and creative works, study abroad, and community-engaged learning experiences. If you have questions or want to make your gift today, please call 512.863.1211, email stubbss@southwestern.edu, or visit southwestern.edu/makeagift