One of Growing Food and Sustainability’s core goals is to train and inspire a new generation of youth leaders to create their own solutions to the world’s challenges. Our Indiegogo campaign is focused on raising money for stipends so that we can train youth through our summer internship program. Last summer, two local college students participated in our internship. This summer, we plan to select five interns to participate in this leadership development experience. Interns learn through peer-lead trainings as well as by taking an active, hands-on role in our organization. They learn how to plan curriculum for the summer garden camp, serve as camp counselors, workshop leaders, and meeting facilitators, coordinate community workdays, harvest days, the weekly compost pick-up, and the weekly produce delivery, and will learn green entrepreneurship skills by helping to run our farmers’ market stand. Our goal is to make sure that every graduate of our internship program leaves with the skills and knowledge to start an initiative of their own.
Though our experience has proven that young people of all ages do care about current social and environmental issues, we realize that summer jobs must often take precedence over unpaid programs. By providing stipends to interns, we will make sure that these opportunities for enrichment and growth are available to all. Through our model of peer-to-peer training and collaboration, we believe that summer interns will develop leadership and organizational skills that will prepare them for the future as much or more as any summer job.
Growing Food and Sustainability, with your help, will deepen our roots in Middleton and provide young people with the opportunity to grow and thrive as leaders within their communities. We believe in the great accomplishments that can be had by planting seeds of change; through the strength of our youth, we plan to do just that–one garden at a time.
Your contribution will make a direct impact in our sustainability leadership training program by allowing us to pay the stipends of 3 of our summer interns! Would you like to hear the personal stories of two of the interns we have selected so far? Read on to learn about Katie and Morgan, two lovely ladies who volunteered with Growing Food and Sustainability last year and decided to take the dive into a summer internship this year!
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Katie Clements My name is Katie Clements. I have been a Middleton resident almost my entire life, and was in the Middleton Cross Plains Area School District for all 12 years. I am currently a Nursing and Ethnic Studies student at Edgewood College. I was raised by a holistic nutritionist and an animal lover, and have always carried with me a deep and lasting passion for people and the environment. I cannot describe how excited I was when SoS Middleton came into being, and how that thrill still remains with me now.
Growing Food and Sustainability as an organization combines everything that I am passionate about: building community, healthy and locally grown food, experiential learning, teaching/learning from children, building strong young leaders, and promoting the need for sustainable economies. So far, I have contributed what I can to this program. As a busy student and active citizen in my community, I try my best to give what I can to the causes I care about. I got a taste of what I could give to this organization last summer as a part-time participant. I cannot wait to give more of my time and energy to this program in the summer as an intern. From what I have seen and experienced so far, there is so much promise in this program to set Middleton apart from other communities as a leader in sustainable farming practices and education, and that promise has already been fulfilled in last summer’s program.
Right now, the cool winter months are giving us time to plan and organize ourselves before the bursting warm months, when everything begins to move so fast. We have been planning curriculum for teachers for Focus the Classroom, organizing an after school program, fundraising, and in general, getting our feet wet. I feel confident in Gabrielle, Natalie, and Colin’s leadership, and am so excited to learn how to help run a program such as this. I have already learned so much, and am by the day becoming more confident in my leadership skills because of theirs. I look forward to getting my hands in the dirt and to see the results of all this planning on the faces, in the work, and in the hearts of my peers and the children we teach. There is no higher reward.
Morgan Ripp If there was one thing I could say about Growing Food and Sustainability it would be that it was the best decision I could have made with my time. At the start, I was hesitant to set foot in this non-profit because I knew pretty much nothing about growing vegetables, leading children, and planning classes, which is what the program is centered around. But having grown up in Middleton and knowing the program leaders, I did not see why I would pass up the opportunity to help build an outside place I didn’t have when I was a youngster. I grew up in Middleton always having a schedule filled up with sport activities and didn’t have as much time exploring nature as I wish I had. My father was an avid gardener so I would lend my hand helping him but I would always view that as a chore instead of a hobby. It wasn’t until after I started college that I realized how unjust our food system is and how that contributes to an unhealthy diet. Now that I am majoring in Environmental Geography and GIS, I get a hands on approach to many human health and environmental topics that are relevant to society.
I believe it is important that we educate our youth about the benefits about growing food locally, eating bountiful and having healthy relationships with others. After volunteering 70 hours of my time last summer, I came out feeling very accomplished and inspired. Even though I was a smaller part in the group, I still felt like I contributed so much and was part of something that could change these little kids’ lives. This summer I hope to be a larger part in the program and help to lead some of the classroom activities. I gained so much experience last summer, but I can bet this year will top it all. I’m counting down the days until the growing season comes back around because there is nothing better than getting your hands dirty and building relationships with the earth and the people around it.