My favorite part of my internship with Ogallala Commons was how much I learned about local foods and medicinal plants from my supervisor, Henrietta Gomez. I was introduced to new uses for plants I’d seen my entire life and had no idea what to do with. It has inspired me to continue pursuing the knowledge of native plants.
A couple of the main projects I did while working for TCEDC were starting and (trying to) maintain a community garden, making salve, brooms, and various fruit preserves with Henrietta. I also was able to do several hours of community service teaching mindfulness and poetry classes to middle school and high school students at Taos Academy Charter School, the school that I attended to graduate.
One of the main challenges I faced was with time management being a full–time college student and working part-time while lacking transportation for the majority of my internship. I found it difficult to maintain my garden to the level I would have liked to due to schedule conflicts and a lack of transportation on some days. However, I was still able to harvest some fruit, some beans, and there is still some squash blossoming in the greenhouse.
I also learned about clerical skills, transcribing several grant proposals, answering phones, sending out emails, etc. I also gave updates occasionally on my internship at staff meetings which allowed me to further develop my public speaking skills. These skills feel as though they will be very applicable regardless of what my next job will be.
I have developed better public speaking skills, which I was hoping to do by my harvest ceremony as my communication goal. I have met many new people who have valuable information about herbology and native plants/ceremonies, which expands my professional network as I intend on entering the field of Natural and Holistic Medicine. I also was able to guide middle school and high school classes through mindfulness activities and poetry prompts, directed the youth intern for TCEDC, and did a project making fruit leather with some local young women, all of which fulfilled my leadership goal.
In the end, my internship was a valuable learning experience for me. I learned to direct a youth intern, I am working on developing better time management skills, I had the opportunity to learn about native plants and food, I met many new people, and I got to give back to the youth in my community in a few different ways. I learned how to better manage a classroom, how to listen, how to communicate, and how to more easily ask for help when I need it. I wouldn’t trade this opportunity for anything and am so grateful for learning experience that Ogallala Commons gave me the space to gain.