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Digging In, Outside the Classroom

UVM’s Food Systems Intern Program offers expanded opportunities for spring semester

Liz Berman during her internship at VCGN
Liz Berman during her internship at VCGN

When Matt Myers began coordinating the Food Systems Internship Program for the fall 2013 semester, he was excited to be able to place 8 students with organizations and businesses in the Vermont food system. As the program enters its second semester, he’s seen an increasing level of interest from both students and host organizations. A total of 26 intern positions are currently accepting applications for the spring 2014 semester. “I am getting calls and emails nearly every day now from new potential host sites offering internships, or students seeking internships. The word is definitely getting out there!”

With Vermont’s reputation for sustainable agriculture and local food, it’s not surprising that many UVM students studying food systems are finding these opportunities for real-life learning perfectly suited to their academic interests. But the positions aren’t just for “foodies.” Many of the internships provide an opportunity for students to utilize skills that are transferable to other sectors, such as communications, event management, 3D computer modeling, social marketing, policy advocacy, and sales. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the internships, Myers is seeing students from across the university apply for these positions. So far, he has interacted with students from 21 different majors, ranging from Environmental Studies to Engineering.

Liz Berman, a senior Nutrition major at UVM, interned with the Vermont Community Garden Network (VCGN) last summer. “During my summer internship I was able to create and teach a new program of gardening and cooking classes for the Visiting Nurses Association's Family Room Garden and help out at the Teaching Garden program. The knowledge that I gained from my time with the VCGN was absolutely invaluable and I would recommend it to others in a heartbeat!”

Berman’s intern position was one of many the Vermont Community Garden Network offers throughout the year, ranging from hands-on garden education in the Community Teaching Garden to website and social media work to statewide network development. “We have been impressed by the skill and professionalism of UVM interns and we appreciate their enthusiasm and fresh ideas,” says Jess Hyman, executive director of VCGN. “Our interns get direct work experience and play an important role in supporting the state’s network of community and school gardens, teaching people how to grow their own food, and reducing hunger.”

A few of the internships being offered this spring include:

  • Sales intern at Green Mountain Mustard
  • Communications and Events Intern at the Vermont Community Garden Network
  • Community Greenhouse Best Practices Intern at New Farms for New Americans
  • Mechanical Design Intern at UVM Extension
  • Social Marketing and Policy Intern at NOFA Vermont
  • Communications and Event Planning Intern for the UVM Food Systems Summit in June

For a full list of spring 2014 food systems internships, click here.

Are you a student considering an internship in the food systems field? Are you a local food or agriculture business or organization interested in hosting an intern? Contact Matt Myers to get started.