Hi, my name is Sam Blumenthal. I am a rising Junior at Skidmore College currently majoring in Environmental Studies with a minor in Geosciences. This past summer I have had the opportunity to work as a Produce Project Intern for Capital Roots, an agricultural distribution company based in Troy, New York. Capital Roots, founded in 1975, has worked to reduce the impact of poor nutrition on low-income communities by making fresh and affordable produce more readily available to the public. This mission has so far been achieved through the creation of more than 50 community gardens, with roughly 900 individual plots, spread throughout the capital region in New York State.
Capital Roots has a large urban farm in Troy, which is the size of approximately two city blocks, where produce is sold directly to the community out of the front gate and at local farmers markets throughout the area. This past summer I have worked directly with the company’s Produce Project, where local high school students are hired as student workers who have the opportunity to gain educational credit along with a stipend. As a Produce Project Intern, my job is to work with student leaders in supervising students in farm work and providing assistance in the day-to-day functioning of the farm. While I have a strong interest in nature and environmental processes, I had very little experience in agricultural work prior to this internship, which has allowed me to have one of the most educational and eye-opening summers of my life. Not only am I now familiar with the basic functions of a farm, but I have been able to experience the life-cycle of produce, from the time that it is planted to the point that it is distributed to a community that will utilize it. I have also had the opportunity to become familiar with the market structure and been able to work directly with the communities in which the produce is being provided.
The point of this internship has been to explore the field in which I intend to receive my degree. While I have experience working in various environmental fields, I chose to pursue an internship in agriculture and sustainable food distribution, which was an area previously unknown to me. To any college students interested in pursuing an internship of their own, I would recommend choosing an experience that will combine both familiar and foreign elements of the degree to which you are pursuing. It is often easy to know what you want to major in, however what you focus on with that major can be much more difficult to discern and utilizing internship experiences is an amazing way to find out what is best for you.
I will be going abroad in the fall to study forest and ocean ecology in Australia, where I hope to use the knowledge and skills that I have obtained this past summer. The last few months have yielded many hours of planting, harvesting, watering, and weeding, all tasks that I now feel highly confident in performing. To my supervisors and the many friends I have made this summer, I say thank you and I will not forget this incredible experience.