Role with the Student Farm: Student Farm Club programming director
Major: psychology and neuroscience
Hometown: Mechanicsburg, PA
Favorite veggie: Broccoli, because you can cook it in a variety of different ways
Least favorite veggie: none (:
Lessons learned on the farm: good experiences learning about teamwork, a lot of involvement in event planning
Katie has been one of the most active leaders in making the youth education program possible. She has been involved with the Student Farm since the beginning of her freshman year.
Tell us about your involvement with Student Farm.
As the Club programming director, I plan all the club meetings and social events the Student Farm Club holds. I have also been youth education project team leader for three years, facilitating youth outreach initiatives in the community and on campus. There is a future farmers program at the PASA (Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture) conference each year. I lead a team to plan and lead lessons for the kids of farmers at this conference, to talk about climate change, alternative energy, sustainability, cooking skills, wildlife, and more.
What are you going to miss about Student Farm?
I’ll miss the people and community the most–the recognition Student Farm has established and the support system we have. Seeing the appreciation for successful events like Harvest Fest and the Plant Sale has been really rewarding. Getting to organize and plan those events are proud moments for me. I’ll also miss the sense of ownership in the organization. It’s open to anyone of any background, regardless of your major or experience, and it’s open-ended with a lot of potential to create your own opportunities.
What have you learned during your time with Student Farm?
A lot of leadership skills, delegating tasks to other people, being able to work independently but also work in a team to get the best results through organization and planning, the interworkings of how the university works all the way from an administration standpoint to the student level. Most importantly, farming, sustainability, agriculture, community; how they are all connected to each other and why this is so important.
What are you most proud of from your time with Student Farm?
I’m really proud of how the club has grown and matured. Working through the expansion project and gaining support from the university and the community has been a huge factor in seeing growth in the club. The different events that I help plan, involvement with PASA, seeing the growth and change in a positive way for future members is very cool to see. Since we started working with PASA, the Future Farmers program has grown so much that we need more than one classroom for all of the interested kids.
Can you tell us a little more about the youth education team?
The Student Farm Club has a youth education team that aims to teach local youth about agriculture, sustainable food systems, and healthy eating in fun and interactive ways. As the impact of Student Farm grows, our focus is on expanding that impact to youth in local schools in the State College community. This has expanded beyond the immediate area through a partnership with PASA. At the conference, people from all across the mid-Atlantic attend, and some of them bring their kids, who attend the Future Farmers sessions. The Penn State students involved in the youth education team dedicate their time to create lesson plans and a program that instills knowledge about sustainable food systems to these kids. The opportunity to have full control over creating a lesson plan gives students a hands-on opportunity to be creative with teaching about the challenges we face in sustainable food systems today. And getting to interact with excited youth in an enthusiastic environment fosters plenty of room for exciting future learning opportunities.
One of my favorite activities has been the “Oh Dear!” game, where kids learned how animals react to resource problems and we discussed ways they might solve the problems. The kids came up with some smart, resourceful and creative ideas.