Hello everyone! My name is Kimberly Taylor and I am a senior psychology major and computer science minor. This spring, I have been working as the Farm 2 School Intern with Walla Walla Valley Farm to School, an initiative through the Sustainable Living Center which uses food, farm, and garden experiences to inspire communities to make healthy food choices. Sitting down to write this blog post, I have been reflecting a lot about what a whirlwind these past couple of months have been and the uncertainty that lies before us. Shifting to remote work has dramatically changed the projects I have worked on as part of this internship, but the importance of increasing access and equity related to health, specifically food choices, has become more important than ever.
Before the COVID-19 outbreak, my main responsibility as a part of this internship was to lead a weekly after-school garden club at a local elementary school. The garden club was scheduled to start the first week in April. Prior to this, during the first half of the semester, I collaborated with another intern to create lesson plans. Typically, at each garden club meeting, students rotate between four activity stations: science, cooking, art, and garden maintenance. Each meeting is focused around a theme such as, soil, the plant life cycle, nutrition and health, bees, insects, or the water cycle.
Several of the other jobs I have had during my time at Whitman have been education focused (primarily math and english/literacy). One of the reasons that I was interested in this internship was to have an opportunity to work on curriculum development in an area I am passionate about (health, nutrition, and gardening) but fairly new to. Through my lesson planning for the garden club, I found that there are a vast number of resources available related to garden education curriculum. I enjoyed reading through lesson plans and strategizing how they would fit into the garden club curriculum. In choosing which lesson plans to include in the garden club curriculum, I had to take into account many factors including: adaptability for various age groups (the garden club has K-5 grade students), availability of supplies and produce in the garden, and most importantly, how engaging and fun the lessons would be for students. Each garden club meeting was an opportunity to work towards Walla Walla Valley Farm to School’s mission to inspire communities to make healthy food choices by teaching students where their food comes from and how to include fruits and vegetables as part of the healthy food choices they make.
My experience having an internship during such a challenging and uncertain time, has taught me about the importance of flexibility and adaptability. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, I am now working towards the same mission of inspiring communities to make healthy food choices, through a completely different project. I am working on creating a database of farms and school districts in Eastern Washington that will facilitate the process of getting healthy foods into local schools. For each farm, the database will include contact information as well as a list of the produce and other products that the farm produces. Each school district will list which products they typically purchase for their school lunch and breakfast programs. School districts and farmers will be able to partner with each other in a mutually beneficial way. Through my four years involved in local schools, I have seen how important school food programs are in students’ lives, particularly for students from low-income households who may not have access to healthy foods. Facilitating communication between farmers and schools will help increase accessibility of health foods, helping students make healthier food choices.
Experiences like Kimberly’s are made possible by the Whitman Internship Grant, which provides funding for students to participate in unpaid internships at both for-profit and non-profit organizations. To learn how you could secure a Whitman Internship Grant or host a Whitman intern at your organization, click here or contact Assistant Director for Internship Programs Mitzy Rodriguez