Kate McCabe, a junior majoring in Nutrition, Health and Wellness, is the third student to be selected as a paid intern with the Communiversity Gardens through a partnership between Campus Compact and Tyson Foods.
“We are fortunate to have received this grant award from Tyson through the Campus Compact for three years now,” said Melissa Burlingame, co-manager of Communiversity Gardens and assistant director of the Institute for the Study of the Environment, Sustainability and Energy. “Our volunteer numbers decrease during the summer and our interns have helped us to keep the gardens and social media running for students who return in the fall semester. The summer intern is also charged with building programs that will be implemented in the fall and spring semesters.”
The Tyson Foods Summer Community Internship Program provides 40 nonprofit organizations in the Chicago area, as well as Sioux City, Storm Lake and Council Bluffs, Iowa, with a grant of $3,000 to $3,500 to hire college students for the summer.
“I worked with the Communiversity Gardens during the Spring semester and realized I wanted to learn more,” said McCabe who is also earning a minor Environmental Studies and a certificate in Sustainable Food Systems. “I was excited to learn that I had earned this paid internship with the gardens this summer.”
Communiversity Gardens was established in the spring of 2014 on the east side of Anderson Hall to provide food for the Huskie Food Pantry and a resource to educate students about sustainable farming.
Kate’s time working with the gardens this summer has provided her with experiences that she will carry with her beyond her time at NIU.
“I hope to become a dietitian after graduation,” McCabe said. “The skills and knowledge that I have learned through this internship are things that I will be able to share with my future clients. I want to encourage them to eat healthy and to grow their own food.”
Working 25 hours a week, Kate has been responsible for promoting involvement with Communiversity Gardens, learning how to grow food, encouraging people to eating locally, and raising awareness of food insecurity and food waste.
“I have gained valuable experience that will be beneficial to my career and have established local connections within DeKalb and the NIU community,” she said. “It’s also been a ton of fun planning and participating in events like our tie-dye fundraiser we were able to host this year, along with our annual plant sale.”
“I am looking forward to sharing what I have learned with others,” she continues. “I have learned that gardening really supports a holistic approach to health and wellness since being active outdoors is good exercise and good for overall mental wellness. Not to mention that eating locally-sourced food is better for the environment and also for our bodies.”
Communiversity Gardens typically has six to eight volunteers at a time during the school year, drawing them in through a Facebook page, word of mouth, university announcements, emails and faculty contacts. If you are interested in becoming involved with the Communiversity Gardens, email [email protected].