We have partnered with several companies, NGOs and government agencies to serve as advisory members or external mentors, help guide our research efforts, propose collaborative research topics and apprenticeship opportunities, etc. If you are interested in partnering with InTERFEWS, please submit an apprenticeship idea or volunteer to serve as an external mentor


Many of our partners provide apprenticeship opportunities allowing trainees to gain new skills and knowledge relevant to FEWS, as well as provide exposure to real world FEWS problems with potential to stimulate novel research ideas. The apprenticeships are intended to be career path experiences and can vary in duration from 3 weeks to 4 months. The experience is meant to be flexible so that it may be tailored to each trainee in order to provide them with skills outside of those they gain through their dissertation research activities. Paid positions are welcomed and encouraged, especially for unfunded trainees, but are not a requirement of supervisors. 

Once the InTERFEWS leadership team and the entity supporting the apprenticeship agree to the tailored experience for the trainee, the apprenticeship supervisor and the trainee will complete a guidelines document where the trainee’s responsibilities, expectations, and workplace requirements will laid out. This document also includes a list of 21st Century competencies important for doctoral degree recipients to enter diverse careers (e.g. work collaboratively in team settings with diverse colleagues; Acquire literacy in the conceptual and methodological approaches needed to address the apprenticeship project in the professional field; etc.). This list will be reviewed and used as a guide to define the knowledge and skills the trainee is expected to gain during the apprenticeship. Note that the apprenticeship does not need to address all of the 21st Century competencies listed, but most of them should be. At the end of the document, both the apprenticeship supervisor and trainee will sign a contract agreeing to the above mentioned items.

Following completion of the apprenticeship, the trainee will write a short report (1 – 2 pages) documenting their experience and achievement of the agreed upon goals, including any changes made to the goals and the reason for the change. The supervisor will approve the report or require revisions as necessary.

Apprenticeship Examples

  • The trainee assisted Trees, Water, & People (TWP) in conducting an educational workshop on solar energy for middle schools in US tribal communities. The project emphasizes both technical and social elements of just energy transitions, including the conceptual basics of photovoltaics and the empowerment of youth-led authority over energy futures. The trainee gained competencies in community engagement, oral and written communication with the public, virtual coordination skills, flexibility, and creativity.
  • The Colorado Collaborative for Healthy Soils (CCHS) has brought together a diverse group of stakeholders in the agricultural community to inform decision-making surrounding a new soil health bill in Colorado, and new soil health programs which may be established with the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA). The trainee partnered with CCHS to produce a report for the CDA which synthesizes conclusions and recommendations generated in stakeholder meetings. The report included a finalized list of soil health indicators, recommended sampling protocols, and recommendations for potential research efforts centered around a statewide health database. The trainee also developed a sustainability rating scale for farmers, tailored to specific regions and cropping systems. The trainee gained competencies in team-building, leadership, communication, adaptation of scientific findings to a practical setting, and applied research skills (identifying pertinent research questions, participatory research process, and communication of scientific results across sectors and disciplines).
  •  The trainee is working with the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) to evaluate ecosystem services provided by peri-urban agriculture and open space. As population grows in the South Platte River Basin (SPRB), urban development will continue to place pressure on peri‐urban land. In order to better understand the trade‐offs between land‐development approaches in the SPRB and inform state‐led land and water conservation initiatives, it is important to fully evaluate the implications of different urban development scenarios. However, ecosystem services provided by peri-urban agricultural and open land are underrepresented in current evaluations of such scenarios. To better inform the update of Colorado Water Plan and other state planning objectives concerning private land conservation, the trainee is working with the CWCB to address the question, “To what extent would ecosystem services provided by peri-urban agricultural and/or open land be altered or diminished if the land was developed?” In addition to ecosystem valuation, the trainee is acting as a technical consultant on relevant visualization and mapping approaches that may be used to inform state policy and planning priorities. The trainee is expected to gain competencies in written and oral communication, acquiring literacy in new concepts and methods, identifying policy-relevant research questions and a strategy to answer them, and working collaboratively with colleagues in diverse areas of expertise.
  • The trainee worked with The University of Mississippi’s Community First Research Center for Wellbeing & Creative Achievement (UM: CREW) to develop plans for the expansion of the Food Rx Pilot Project. Additionally, the trainee worked with faculty from pharmacy administration and sociology to conduct this Community-based Participatory Research project. The trainee worked with these partners to set up and conduct interviews, analyze results (collaboratively), and organize an information town hall. This required science communication skills and open dialogue. The trainee gained competencies in cross-cultural skills, project planning, collaboration & knowledge co-production, community organizing, interdisciplinary collaboration, and science communication.
  • The trainee is assisting with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Sustainable Communities Catalyzer. This endeavor pertains to community-level social and environmental justice impacts of renewable energy deployment. Various renewable energies will be researched and their potential to help support community economies will be investigated. The trainee is expected to gain competencies in renewable energies, data analysis and literature review, leadership and collaboration, and writing for publication.
  • Typically known as ‘buy and dry’, the acquisition of agricultural lands and subsequent drying of those lands (to allocate water to municipal use), has effects that extend beyond the parties directly involved in the transaction. Water sharing agreements offer the opportunity to maintain farms and allow municipal access to water, yet are under-utilized, according to the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB). Thus, to further clarify this trend and identify potential solutions, the trainee will work with CWCB to interview stakeholders, participate in integrated land and water use group meetings, and conduct a literature review. Direct stakeholder engagement is intended to improve understanding of barriers to water sharing agreements, reveal knowledge gaps, and inform policy/programmatic recommendations. Special focus is allocated to municipal open space programs, because of their existing conservation work along the Front Range. The trainee will articulate the unique role these agencies can play in water sharing agreements. The trainee is expected to gain competencies in communication to professionals in the field, working collaboratively with colleagues in diverse areas of expertise, developing specialized expertise, identifying policy-relevant research questions, and co-production of knowledge.
  • The trainee assisted Hillel Colorado as the Sustainability Manager for CSU Hillel and was responsible for organizing sustainability programming for the community connecting chicken care, food justice, water conservation, and energy awareness for students. The project emphasizes Jewish learning and ecological issues – creating teaching events for students to gain awareness around FEWs issues. The trainee gained competences in project management, coordination skills around volunteer organization, and developing expertise in event programming.
  • The CSU Western Colorado Research Center in Grand Valley is an agricultural experiment station addressing challenges associated with conserving and efficiently using agricultural water. The station has been shifting its irrigation system from traditional furrow to a water efficient drip system and examining water conservation by planting different crops. The trainee assisted the station in fixing and developing a drip irrigation system, as well as planting hemp, sweet corn, and watermelon. The trainee collected data on soil moisture, evapotranspiration, flow measurement and forage sampling to help center’s on-going water conservation experiments. Additionally, the trainee worked as center’s social media manager to promote science communication and community outreach. The trainee gained real-world experience working with an interdisciplinary FEW research team, specialized expertise in modern agriculture and water resource management, skill in oral and written science communication, and professional competencies. Video of the Trainee’s apprenticeship experience.
  • The trainee worked with Precision Water Resources Engineering to develop hydrologic data for the Truckee River Basin above the Farad gage. As a complex river basin, the flow data have embedded uncertainties due to numerous reasons. Consequently, the data loaded with uncertainties used in water planning and modeling tools compromise the accuracy of the results and lead to inadequate water management strategies. The trainee was tasked with writing algorithms and codes in Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) to reduce uncertainties in the data (or to “correct” the data) for hydrologic inflows to reservoirs and surface runoff to streams. The end-product is an Excel workbook with user-friendly interfaces to review years of daily data in an affordable time. The trainee also developed data for the years 2001-2021. The developed data are being used in Truckee River Operating Agreement (TROA) basin planning and operational decision support RiverWare© model. The TROA planning model is currently being used in a pilot study to potentially edit the basin Water Control Manual, which specifies how reservoirs are operated and guides flood control operations. The trainee gained competencies in creative problem-solving, critical thinking, decision-making, working independently, analyzing data, and communicating professionally both in written and oral formats workplace settings.
  • The trainee worked with WestWater Research (WWR), a leading economic consulting firm in pricing, valuation, and transaction advisory services for water rights and water resource development. The trainee’s project involved refining and improving a model used to explain and predict temporary water transfer prices in California. The California surface water spot market is a developed and actively traded market that serves as an important mechanism to generate more overall value from limited surface water supplies. The trainee utilized WWR’s robust data on water transactions to estimate how California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act will impact future water prices. Results from the analysis were included in a report for internal use, and the trainee is continuing to work with WWR in developing a short journal article to be submitted to an outreach publication. The trainee was also tasked with providing utility support on a variety of other client projects throughout the apprenticeship. The trainee gained competencies in developing specialized expertise (i.e., water markets), project planning, identifying policy-relevant research questions, and communicating data-driven results to diverse audiences in both written and oral formats.
  • More coming soon!

External Partner Mentors

InTERFEWS trainees may choose an external mentor to advise their research to include pragmatic outcomes for FEWS topics related to the partner mentor’s industry/organization. The inclusion of external mentors not only aids the program to conduct stakeholder engaged research, but supports trainees to further the interdisciplinary aspects of their research by including ideas and insights from the mentor’s profession. Although the inclusion of an external mentor on the trainee’s team is not required, the InTERFEWS program highly encourages it to get the most out of this interdisciplinary experience.

Below is guidance for the role of external mentors:

  • Advise student on research to include components that raise all pragmatic outcomes for FEWS topics related to industry/organization.
  • Provide mentorship on professional development skills.
  • Provide networking opportunities, if possible.
  • Meet (phone or in-person) at least 1-2 times/year to discuss research.
  • Sit on student’s dissertation committee as external member, if possible.


The InTERFEWS Program is always looking to collaborate with new partners! Please contact us for more information, or external partners interested in proposing Food-Energy-Water research projects or ideas for apprenticeships are encouraged to submit using the links below.