Intern Reflections

Interns at the Goodman Youth Farm leave with the skills to help foster enthusiasm between youth and gardening, and with the tools necessary to help create positive relationships between youth and nature. They gain confidence in gardening and plant care, as well as inspiration on how to use that knowledge.They also leave with a larger sense of community-with fellow farm workers, students, teachers, and the community as a whole. Want to know more? Here are some first hand accounts from past interns. 


Why do they do it?

"My internship at the Youth Farm has opened my eyes to the diversity of students in Madison and their enthusiasm to learn about food, seed to plate. It was magical to see the kids reactions when they saw a carrot pulled out of the ground for the first time. Garden-based education is extremely important for kids to learn, and I will carry that with me as I do Farm to School and beyond." - 2017 Full Season Intern

"Working at the Goodman Youth Farm quickly became a way of life for me. I have never felt more comfortable in any job position. I have such a higher confidence behind pursuing a career in environmental education, and working at the Youth Farm has helped me push toward applying for other positions where I can learn and diversify my knowledge" -2017 Full Season Intern

"I very much enjoyed learning about crops and their cultivation. Ample opportunities for learning across the board through professional development and hands-on training. Seeing how the farm progressed and grew throughout the year was very inspiring, and has set me on the path towards continuing on in a career in small scale organic agriculture/garden based education. I would highly recommend this experience to others. This program is a great way to learn about gardening/small scale agriculture and garden education/nutrition for people with little to no experience."-Travus Maloney, Full Season Intern, 2016

"It brought me so much joy to share with the kids the amazing gifts from the farm, all the healthy & fresh foods, and to simply witness their reactions to being on a farm! It warms my heart to know there are so many children enthusiastic about farms & healthy food...My heart was so full every time I left my volunteer shifts at the Goodman Youth Farm" -Fall volunteer, 2016

"What inspired me most was the positive reactions from children each week, being able to expose children to a new vegetable, not only in the garden, but also on a plate in front of them. The willingness of the children to try new things and be open and accepting of nature was truly refreshing and humbling. I would definitely recommend this internship to others who are seeking to get a hands-on farm experience, as a well engage with children. I always left the farm feeling very full and content, knowing that I made a difference in a child's life, as well as put forth my own hard work to make a positive interaction with nature. This has been one of the best teams I have worked with. I felt supported at work and encouraged to grow. It felt like family. I really enjoyed being outside and learning so much about farming, bees and educating kids. I really enjoyed field days as well." -Full season intern, 2016

"This internship is a chance to be exposed to a totally new environment and especially as a student to get valuable experience outside of the traditional classroom. As interns, we play an important role of being the medium between kids and the garden. We give them the chance to learn in a unique environment, interact in different surroundings, and then connect what they learn to other parts of their life." - Madeleine, Full Season Intern-2014, 2015

 "My time working at Goodman Youth Farm completely changed my career path. After seeing the power of the seed to table mission played out everyday with the kids on the farm, I cannot imagine working in any other field. And the mentorship I received as an intern set me up to do just that."-Dana Shinners, Fall Intern 2014, Spring and Summer Intern 2015

 “My time at the Youth Farm allowed me to become more comfortable planning a garden, planting crops, caring for crops, protecting gardens from pests, harvesting, and identifying plants. I also had some educational experience before this summer, but this internship really helped me develop some alternative teaching methods. I very much appreciated the chance to learn how to plan and facilitate hands-on, outdoor education. I learned how to think through a lesson plan to make sure I’m prepared to solve any problems that might arise, and better yet to make a plan to prevent those problems from occurring. I also learned how to ensure that all students in an activity can learn something and feel included by creating alternative options on the spot if the lesson plan does not meet a student’s needs. I found that the garden had many options for this kind of flexible education...I definitely feel better equipped to facilitate youth garden education.” –Emily, Summer Intern-2015

"I learned so much about both farming and educating kids about farming, cooking, and engaging with the natural world. Specifically on the farming side, I learned about prepping garden beds, planning crop distribution/rotation, planting seeds/transplants, drip irrigation, integrative pest management, plant families, beekeeping, and harvesting all sorts of vegetables. On the youth garden education side, I...learned the value of having a thorough, well-communicated plan that includes some flexibility." –Anna, Summer Intern-2015

“I am so inspired by what a difference you can make early in a kids life. I noticed how my own attitudes and opinions about things were contagious and how the first contact situation kids have with farming, gardening, vegetables, etc.,  can really influence them for a long time.” - Maddie, Summer Intern-2015

"What I enjoyed most, though, was the way that the internship (including the staff, the people who visit the Youth Farm, and the farm itself) was so dynamic. It developed and grew and shifted every week, every day even. You could see first hand the ways the kid’s interests and perspectives developed based on their experiences there, [and] the way that staff members learned from each other to come up with new ideas and enhance their teaching styles..."  –Maren, Summer Intern-2014

"I feel much more confident leading groups and interacting with students of all ages. I learned to be adaptable and flexible with my teaching and I learned a lot of techniques from my co-workers. I think I could transfer the education skills I learned this summer, not only to facilitating youth gardens, but to any educator experience as well."-Jill, Spring and Summer Intern-2014


Where are they now?

Dana Shinners, 2015 Intern

At the Youth Farm, I learned ag. basics - from plant families to harvesting tips - and gained invaluable experience in outdoor education. When I started my internship, I was new to the field, and by the end, I was confident garden-based educator. Harvesting giant leeks with preschoolers and leading transplanting stations are some of my favorite memories from the farm. I also loved weeding conversations with my team on the farm! 

As of December 2017, I am pursuing a Masters of Community and Regional Planning at the University of Oregon. Between leaving the Youth Farm and grad school, I moved to California and served with Americorps at Veggielution, a 3-acre urban farm, and worked at a grocery store cooperative in Davis, CA. The planning field has so many interesting links to our food system - from farm land preservation to urban agriculture. I envision my future career in community-based planning, working to create sustainable cities that positively impact community health and well-being

Erin Moriearty, 2015 Youth Farm Intern

After being exposed to the world of garden-based education, interning at a small elementary school garden in college, I became an intern at the Goodman Youth Farm. The Youth Farm expanded my garden education experience to a wide range of ages and diversity of students, coming from all walks of life. I learned about how a larger scale garden education program runs and further developed my gardening and teaching skills. Since interning at the Youth Farm, I spent a year as the gardener-in-residence at Lapham Elementary School and served as a Farm-to-School AmeriCorps member in Madison. I am now completing graduate school, attending Alaska Pacific University, for my Masters of Science in Outdoor and Environmental Education. I am also teaching second grade at an outdoor home school program where kids are taught about gardening, outdoor sciences, and outdoor recreation activities (Kellogg FIELD School). Working with Community GroundWorks and interning with the Youth Farm has largely shaped the direction I have taken in my career

Danielle Piraino, 2014 Youth Farm Intern

My internship at the Youth Farm was like the Summer of Veggie and Kid Love! I built an intern community of fun, smart, and energetic sisters and brothers, and shared many moments of joy and laughter with the kids on the Youth Farm.  I learned how to create farm-based lesson plans and became much more comfortable with the idea of “teaching” (something that worried me before the internship). I also learned how to use a farm implement—a push-behind hand tiller, and felt totally empowered to be a female farm worker using heavy machinery in a safe social environment!

After my internship on the farm, I returned to University of Vermont to finish my Environmental Studies degree in “Food, Land & Community.”  My most recent internship last summer was also great—with UW-Extension in St. Croix County as their Local Foods Intern, where I got to organize a bicycle farm-tour called the 1st Annual Farm Pedal. Now, I’m done with school and am looking for jobs in community organizing and event programming around regenerative community-based food systems. Although I’m not directly pursuing garden-education, I find myself as an accidental educator constantly! In any position that I’m in, the Youth Farm prepared me for how to work across difference and how to teach across difference. My garden education skills from the Youth Farm are always handy.

Elin Amundson, 2014 Intern

My internship at the Youth Farm was my first experience with garden-based education. I'd worked with kids, and I'd worked on farms and grown my own food, but I'd never combined the two worlds. After witnessing all the transformations that happen over the course of a season, (transformations: of the plants we were growing, of the students we were teaching, and of ourselves as educators), I was hooked on hands-on, food and garden-based, experiential learning. Some of my favorite memories from that summer include long days working with the group of middle schoolers who regularly came to the garden. They'd arrive at the farm with the attitudes you'd expect from a group of teens and tweens: a bit sullen, a bit salty about being there to work in the hot sun during their summer vacation, and WAY too cool for us interns (or anybody else, for that matter). Then, they'd work with us tending the vegetables, pulling weeds, carefully watering the beds, leading younger kids in farm activities, and cooking snacks in our outdoor kitchen with the produce they'd just harvested. By the time the afternoon was over they'd be laughing with us (well, maybe still AT us, but laughing and enjoying themselves nonetheless), munching on fresh veggies, teaching us about trendy new music, and showing us their best dance moves. Success!

After my internship at the Youth Farm, I moved to Wilmington, North Carolina to serve with FoodCorps, an organization that works with communities to connect kids to real food so they can grow up healthy. In NC, I served in four rural elementary schools, teaching kids about real food by growing it, cooking it, and eating it with them right there in the classroom (or the school garden!). I decided after a year of teaching and growing food in the South that it was time to move back to my beloved Midwest, so I'm serving a second term with FoodCorps, but this time I'm in Iowa, serving with the Northeast Iowa Food & Fitness Initiative. I serve in the Postville school district, where I teach nutrition lessons, garden, and cook with kids every day. It's awesome. I plan to continue a career in education, hopefully incorporating sustainable agriculture and community-focused systems. I also plan to continue growing my own food, promoting outdoor learning, and teaching kids kitchen fundamentals so they can grow up to enjoy food in a nourishing, creative, fulfilling, and endlessly delicious way! 

Jill Wielgos, 2014 Intern

During my time at the Youth Farm, I got some great practice designing and implementing lesson plans on a ton of different subjects; healthy eating, growing food, nature, etc. I had the opportunity to constantly edit my “classroom” (aka garden) management skills by hearing suggestions from my supervisors, other interns, and my own self-evaluation. One of my favorite memories from the Youth Farm was hearing some of the Garden Fit kids talk on the radio about their experiences at the farm—they were loving all of it!

After my summer interning at the Youth Farm, I returned to Grinnell College in Iowa to finish up my third year, including studying abroad in Ecuador and interning at a cacao cooperative in the Amazon! Now I’m finishing up my degree of Spanish and Education—next fall I will be student teaching, and the lessons I learned at the Youth Farm about creating a well-organized, engaging curriculum will come in handy!

Gabrielle Hinahara, 2013 Intern 

During my internship at the Youth Farm, one of the most important things I learned was how to keep large groups of kids engaged on the farm at one time (sometimes up to 100 students were working on the farm simultaneously!) I really enjoyed getting to know the other interns throughout the season and learning skills from everyone on the team. My favorite memory is seeing the kids eat and enjoy the produce that they helped grow. 

After my internship at the Youth Farm, I continued volunteering with Growing Food and Sustainability, a youth garden education program in Middleton. I also re-opened and currently direct the Middleton Youth Center, an after school and summer program for middle school students.  I plan to continue my work with youth and still take every opportunity to involve them in environmental education, gardening, and cooking. 

Leia Young, 2013 Crew Leader, 2011-2012 Intern

During my internship at the Youth Farm, I learned how to grow food and work with kids both one on one and in a large group. When I was at the Youth Farm, I had the opportunity to experience different students from differing backgrounds and ages all enjoy and learn the joys of growing food. My favorite memory was talking with some first graders about peppers after we made garden art. I was telling them all the different colored peppers there are in the world and they were just fascinated. I can still see their faces when I told them there was a purple colored pepper.  

After working with the Youth Farm I moved west to work with Bold Earth and Positive Adventures – both companies that expose students to the outside world and aim to teach them a thing or two about life. Now, I work with a company called the Outdoor Education Group, leading front country and backcountry outdoor education trips outside of Melbourne, Australia. I think about my roots at the Youth Farm a lot. I understand so much more about the logistics and teaching skills that go into an outdoor education setting because of that experience. Someday I will go back to teaching elementary school children about the different colors of peppers and be very happy knowing I came from a stellar Youth Farm beginning.