What do you hope to learn by working with the Student Farm?
I hope that working on the farm this summer will give me hands-on insight into sustainable agriculture, which is one of the main tenets of the reversal of climate change. I want to see things from the view of the farmer before I can tackle the kinds of policy that will help this issue. By working with the Student Farm family, I hope to learn not only about the actual planting of crops and the organization of those crops but about the community of working on a farm and striving for the end goal of sustainable farming and what it entails.
What have you learned through trainings thus far? What has surprised you?
There have been many things through training that has surprised me thus far. Probably one of the main areas of this is the amount of leadership and responsibilities me and my fellow interns have while on the Student Farm. Of course, I realized this internship and experience required good leadership skills and work ethic for a reason, but as I go along, I realize how much responsibility and freedom we really have in essentially running the Student Farm, organizing our own events, having specific jobs that encompass high levels of accountability in themselves, and more. At first, this was somewhat daunting, but as I go along I am also surprised at how naturally it is all coming to me. Through great leadership from my advisors and colleagues, I am starting to feel less and less lost through the process, and more excitement and anticipation to get out on the farm and get my hands dirty.
Why are food systems or sustainable agriculture important to you?
Sustainable agriculture is extremely important to me for many reasons. I began my interest in sustainable farming from when I was little. My mom is a Brazilian immigrant who comes from a sustenance farming family in a rural area. I was able to grow up seeing the struggles they went through and people still go through there, and always wished I knew of a way to help the issues and make farming not only viable again, but enjoyable, not just a chore and means of living for so many people. I have always been interested in not only farming and sustainable agriculture, but with other related subjects such as food waste versus food scarcity, another prevalent issue not only in Brazil but right here in the US. My interest stemmed here, and grew throughout high school into declaring Sustainability Leadership as my minor this past semester of my sophomore year at Penn State. I am also interested in policy, specifically environmental policy and the fight against climate change considering it is one of the most important issues of our time.
What does community mean to you, and where do you see opportunities to engage and improve your community’s food system?
Community to me means an area or group of people who you want to contribute to and make better. I see countless opportunities to do this within the Student Farm community as well as in the Centre County community in general. This internship gives me the unique ability to impact my community’s food system in a positive way by not only getting that hands-on experience myself, but teaching others about the importance of knowing where your food comes from and how it is produced (whether good or bad). I am so excited to be able to help others, and maybe even guide them into thinking about what sustainability as well as food means to them in their individual lives.
What does leadership mean to you? What are the qualities of a good leader? How do you embody them? How are you working on improving in leadership right now?
Leadership to me means guiding others in a respectable and conducive learning environment. It means taking charge and not being afraid of adversity, and striving for what is best for the group being led. I embody the qualities of a good leader because I feel that I take everyone’s opinion into consideration when making decisions, and that I am responsible and work hard to lead in the best way I can. I am a good communicator, and I am passionate about whatever I have the opportunity to lead, both of which I believe are major requirements of a good leader. Leaders must be able to communicate effectively with their team, and must deeply care about their overall mission. Especially in this “mission,” I am extremely passionate to not only lead but to make an impact on the Student Farm and learn the most of what I can about sustainable agriculture.