Hello Everyone! It’s been almost a month since we arrived back from our internship orientation at Talon Point and there are many things I’m excited to share. Going into this internship experience, I’ve been challenged to think about my biggest goals more than ever before. The goal-setting process has made me realize I want to look back and clearly see how I’ve grown personally and the difference I’ve made for others within the community. The goals I’ve set for myself are designed to reflect that.
In terms of leadership, I realized I need to improve my skills to confidently handle technical logistics. This is important, because, although I often have great ideas, implementation has been overwhelming. I want to be a leader who can readily answer questions and put a plan in motion; therefore, this summer I will plan one field trip for our internship team to visit a sponsor, vendor, or community partner. I will handle the specific details, such as driving/navigating, while also reaching out to our hosts and acting as their point of contact for our group. As I work toward this goal, I’m going to break the process down into simple steps such as making a phone call or writing out a list of things to bring.
When I sat down to think of some other concrete goals I should make for myself, I plotted out my strengths and weaknesses in the areas of networking and communication. I’ve always been most comfortable working with others one on one, but sometimes it’s limiting when you need to reach more people. So, this summer I’m challenging myself to give a presentation for a group. One of my core projects related to running our farmer’s market is to organize and present a cooking demonstration that incorporates the fresh produce and products of our vendors. This will allow me to meet my goal of presenting for at least 15 minutes by leading this market event. To work toward this, I’m going to rehearse for my friends, family, or fellow interns. I’ll also be networking with vendors to get supply donations that I can feature, and I’m planning/testing recipes. To promote this event, my wonderful fellow intern, Sandra Dillinger is helping me post event information on the market’s social media platforms.
Likewise, with networking, I found that connecting with people in the moment comes naturally to me, but I often forget to follow up which can be crucial for maintaining a network. I realized that social media plays a big role in this as well. Thus, my goal to improve networking will be professionalizing my Linkedin and Facebook profiles by updating them with my work experiences, adding pictures, and biographical information. I will also invite 5 professionals I meet or work with this summer to connect with me through Linkedin. To improve my follow-up skills, I will reach out to each of them via a phone call, card, or email after we’ve worked together as a way of strengthening my network. For me, this is a big goal, but I’m going to set deadlines for the technical steps such as adding photos to Linkedin to make the process actionable. From there it’s a matter of working with one professional at a time and holding myself accountable for the follow-up.
I’ve already mentioned the cooking demonstration project and the trips we’re planning to visit community partners, but I have another important project I’m super excited to be pursuing. We do two food stamp programs at our farmer’s market: SNAP or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and Double Up which is funded by a grant from LiveWell Colorado. Both programs allow lower income families to get fresh, healthy, local produce and foods at reduced prices. My project’s goal is to better promote these programs in our local community. I’ve begun this process with research that involves tracking the weekly utilization of these programs at our Friday markets. Our wonderful market accountant, Diane Dillinger, and my amazing supervisor, Jane Enger have taught me how to do this and supported me along the way. This will be a summer long project that will draw on all my skills, but I hope my efforts will help more people in need in our community to get access to healthy foods.
While the projects I described above are more involved and complex, a large part of what I have been doing day to day pertains purely to improving the operation of the Woodland Park Farmer’s Market. I’ve been learning the basic skills needed for market management such as how to prepare vendor folders the market uses to collect taxes and site fees. I love organizing and sorting so it’s been a lot of fun. Along those lines, one of the first projects we worked on as an internship team was organizing our storage shed. It helped us get more familiar with the tools needed for running the market and we’ve been able to streamline the set-up/tear-down process based on the adjustments we made to how our shed is organized.
To date, I’ve already had more wonderful first experiences in this internship than I can count. But, If I had to pick something from this month that I’ve absolutely loved about being an intern, it would be the camaraderie on our farmer’s market team. I’ve learned so much from each person including skills that range from setting up tent canopies to cold-calling community professionals. It’d be easy to get overwhelmed with everything that goes into making our market so successful, but many hands make light work as they say and it’s certainly true for this stellar group of people. I’ve set off on a great journey through this internship opportunity and I can’t wait to see where it leads.