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Experiencing staffing shortages? The Mickey Leland Environmental Internship Program can help.

Jan. 24, 2022 - Sponsors needed to place talented college students into internships.
ContactGary Rasp
After Hrs

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is now accepting sponsorship applications for the Mickey Leland Environmental Internship Program (MLEIP), now celebrating its 31st anniversary.

Businesses and organizations with a presence in Texas may sponsor a summer intern through the MLEIP. Sponsors are asked to provide internship placements and compensate the students. Sponsors set internship dates, rate of pay, duties performed, and work hours.

The paid summer internship places undergraduate and graduate college students pursuing a wide range of disciplines at TCEQ and other participating state agencies. Students are also placed in positions within county and city government, as well as with participating private sector companies from across the state.

The program is intended for students pursuing environmental, science, engineering, public administration, public health, computer technology, accounting, business, law, and communications degrees.

The deadline for submitting a sponsor request form is March 31, 2022.

For more information on how to become a summer internship sponsor, visit TCEQ’s MLEIP sponsor webpageExit the TCEQ. Potential sponsors may also contact Juanita Baldwin, MLEIP education and outreach coordinator, at

Honoring a Humanitarian

John Hall, the founding chairman of TCEQ’s predecessor agency, the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, began the program in 1991 as a memorial to his friend and former U.S. Congressman Mickey Leland. Congressman Leland died in an airplane crash en route to Ethiopia on a humanitarian mission in 1989 as Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Hunger.

The internship program, which began with 35 students, is still going strong. Nearly 600 candidates from across the nation applied last year. The program provides women, people of color, and economically disadvantaged students attending college an opportunity to learn about career opportunities in the environmental field.

Since its inception, 2,527 interns have been placed into internships. Some of those interns are now employed in leadership and scientific/technical positions at TCEQ or participating sponsor companies.

“I know how passionate he (Mickey Leland) was about creating opportunities for students,” Alison Leland, an advisory board member for the MLEIP, said of her late husband. “It makes me so proud that there are students from across the country who are placed in meaningful, impactful internship opportunities across Texas.”

The paid internship allows students who are responsible for supporting themselves to earn money while exploring future career opportunities. It also allows sponsors to find talented interns who will soon enter the workforce.

Success story

TCEQ employee Erika Crespo, a 2012 graduate of MLEIP, said the program gave her a firsthand opportunity to learn about different careers in environmental science.  Crespo worked with a local consulting firm during her internship and experienced the cooperative working relationship between TCEQ and the regulated community through the program. 

“Making the successful transition from a college student to a working professional can be challenging, and having a mentor who invests time and effort into helping navigate that journey can make all the difference in the world, Crespo said.

“I would not be where I am today if it were not for the mentors I met through MLEIP.  They gave me the opportunity to learn, ask questions, and develop in ways that no class or textbook can offer.  They motivated me then, and they still inspire me now.  It can’t get any better than that!”

During her seven-year tenure with the agency, Crespo has advanced and grown professionally.  She is grateful to MLEIP for helping to launch her career and enjoys encouraging new leaders and emerging professionals.

Last year the program placed more than 130 students in internships assignments that were in-person, remote, or hybrid.  This year, with organizations and companies experiencing unprecedented staffing shortages, the program is encouraging more external sponsors to get involved and hire summer interns.

Students interested in learning more about the program or applying for an internship can visit the TCEQ website or the MLEIC websiteExit the TCEQ.

Student applications are accepted through Feb. 28, 2022.