This summer, Denisonians found themselves all over the world working, completing internships and furthering their education. Emily Myette, a rising senior from Black Diamond, Wash., spent ten weeks of her summer working on an organic farm in Kutztown, Penn.
Rodale Institute is an experimental organic farm that researches and experiments with the best agricultural practices. Their goal is to share their knowledge with farmers and educate people on the health benefits of organic agriculture. Denison’s environmental studies department has grown a strong connection with Rodale Institute and sends one student to the farm each summer for an internship. This year, Myette was able to secure that internship.
“I took a Sustainable Agriculture course with Dr. Aguilar this past spring semester and absolutely loved it,” Myette said. “I learned about this internship from my environmental studies professors and applied in the spring and was lucky enough to be chosen for the internship.”
While living at Rodale Institute, Myette learned about different techniques for organic farming, how to grow certain crops, organic pest management and disease prevention. She said, “I loved learning all the small things that amount to a huge wealth of knowledge about organic agriculture.”
This learning experience turned out to be everything she was looking for in a summer internship. “I felt like I was constantly learning while I was there, yet I can’t imagine ever getting to a place where I feel like I’m an expert. There is an endless amount of things to learn about organic farming.”
Myette found herself extremely tired after a typical day at Rodale. “On a typical day I would wake up at 5:30 to go for a run and cook myself breakfast, then start work at 7. I’d work in the fields from 7 to noon harvesting produce and processing it for market or CSA shares, or cultivating and/or transplanting new crops.” By 1 p.m., she would be finished with her work in the fields and would head over to the communications office to help with social media, event planning and coordinating volunteer placement. After a long day of work and learning, she was ready to pass out early to rest for the following day.
Though her days were long and tiring, the experience was extremely worthwhile. Myette found it especially rewarding when visitors would come to the institute. “People traveled from all over the country and even other parts of the world to learn from the research experts at Rodale and everyone was so passionate about sustainable agriculture.”
She also explained that she found it satisfying when she saw her products go directly to consumers in the farmers markets. “I could tell them about how I had just harvested their food that morning and that I knew it was fresh and delicious because I ate food from our farm everyday too.”
Myette is an environmental studies and political science double major, the president of Ladies’ Night Out and an executive member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority. After graduation, Myette hopes to go into environmental policy, more specifically, food/agricultural policy. Rodale Institute was able to provide her with the hands-on experience she was looking for as she pursues a career in policy.
She said, “I would definitely recommend this internship to anyone interested in organic farming.” Though it was labor intensive, “It helped me bond with the other interns, and it’s satisfying to be sore from a long hard day of work, doing something you’re passionate about.”
Photo Courtesy of Emily Myette