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Into the Field

New Food Systems Internship Program offers hands-on learning

(Photo: Sally McCay)

Matt Myers knows students learn best when they have an opportunity to apply their knowledge. He also knows many local businesses and organizations are the perfect place for UVM students to do so. That’s why he's excited to be coordinating UVM's new Food Systems Internship Program within UVM Extension for students interested in gaining experience in the field of food and agriculture.

UVM students from any program or discipline will be eligible to apply, and will be placed starting this fall semester. “My phone is ringing off the hook!" says Myers. "I have already spoken with 27 potential host sites to place UVM student interns since getting the word out two weeks ago. I think this reflects a real desire of our agricultural community to engage and mentor students as they make a meaningful contribution to the work of Vermont’s food system.”

What types of opportunities will be available to students? Placements will be with Vermont’s wide range of food and agriculture nonprofits, state agencies, and businesses. Activities may include food production, transportation, processing, marketing, on-farm energy generation, direct retailing, and policy work.

Myers sees his role as facilitating the internship process for students so they have a positive experience that gives them an opportunity to build their professional skills and explore their career interests. To get started, he's reaching out to local organizations and businesses to see whether they’re interested in hosting interns. If they are, he’ll work with them to develop descriptions and list the opportunities with UVM’s Career Services office. He’ll also help determine which students might be a good match for each host site. Myers hopes the real-world experience will provide students with the critical skills and contacts necessary to prepare them for similar positions upon graduation.

The new Food Systems Internship Program within UVM Extension is part of UVM’s Food Systems Initiative, which promotes research, teaching, and outreach on food systems issues. Doug Lantagne, director of the Initiative and dean of UVM Extension, sees the internship program as a key educational component in building a strong and relevant undergraduate student experience. "The Food Systems Intern Program aligns with the need for high quality student experiences and UVM Extension’s vision of bringing the power of research-based knowledge to our communities. A cadre of highly motivated, academically gifted, and creative undergraduates working alongside faculty and partnering with citizens can extend the research-based knowledge of the university to every corner of the state to address issues of critical importance to local communities."

Students will be able to find Myers at the new Career & Experience Hub opening this fall on the first floor of the Davis Center, UVM’s new one-stop-shop for experiential learning.

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.

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