Center reporter tapped for frac sand panels

It’s almost misleading to call our interns interns. That word so often implies a novice skillset or a job that’s drudgery. But at the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, our paid student reporter interns — most from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication — function at a remarkably high level. They have done some of our best stories.

Reporter-intern Kate Prengaman, a graduate student, has been ably covering Wisconsin’s frac sand rush since this spring, when we tossed her into the sandstorm to follow up on our first statewide report.

Much of her work has been devoted to keeping tabs on where all the sand mines are and what their status is. Her map and list of sand mines in Wisconsin is the most comprehensive one we know of, and has become a resource for residents, real estate agents, sand miners, consultants, investors, activists and state and local governments.

Lately, Prengaman herself is getting tapped as a resource. Yesterday, she spoke to two groups about frac sand mining in Wisconsin.

One, the Waters of Wisconsin, was a leadership conference to develop long-term strategies to address the most pressing issues facing Wisconsin’s fresh water. It was convened by the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters and the Johnson Foundation at Wingspread.

In the evening, Prengaman spoke at the public Nelson Institute Community Environmental Forum on frac sand mining, along with Rich Budinger of the Wisconsin Industrial Sand Association and Thomas Pearson, an assistant professor in social science at the University of Wisconsin-Stout.

If you’re a UW-Madison journalism student, we’re taking applications for two summer internships. They’re due Dec. 1.

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