This year-long program pairs students with staff mentors to work together on sustainability related projects on campus, year-round. The program introduces students to sustainability policies and practices through internship work experience, professional skills trainings, guest lectures, class discussions, and peer-to-peer advising.
Our Education & Outreach Coordinator interviewed Tim and Crystal about the program and their perspectives on student and staff collaboration in sustainability work at UCSC.
Melissa: Please describe the project you are working on together for the Provost's Sustainability Internship Program. Why is it important for sustainability efforts and the campus in general?
Tim: Crystal's internship is a partnership between Dining and the Food Systems Working Group focusing on mapping UCSC Dining’s sustainable food sourcing by conducting a vendor analysis and new coding initiative within a software program known as Food Pro that Dining uses to manage menu planning, inventory, and ordering through their broadline supplier. She is hosting a set of “coding parties” that bring students together to learn about how to measure sustainable food and together they are working to code over 3,200 products from UCSC Dining’s broadline supplier in addition to secondary vendor contracts! Her role this year also entails developing co-curricular education and outreach materials & activities to increase meal-plan holder understanding of what sustainable (or “Real”) food is and what is happening in their campus food environment. She is leading the development of a brochure and sticker design effort to promote “Real Food” efforts at UCSC set to go to print early next month.
Melissa: Crystal, why is the program useful to you beyond having an internship? What value does the program bring to you as a student at UCSC? Aside from the particulars of the project you are working on, are you gaining skills that you can use beyond this experience?
Crystal: I've benefited greatly from the program in a variety of areas. I learned firsthand what is required to have a successful project on campus, like a having a clear vision of the outcomes and creating SMART objectives to reach those overall goals. I also found the program useful because I've developed both as a student and a professional through the resources the program provides, like mentors and project developing documents. I've gained experience that will definitely help me when applying to other internships and jobs before graduation, like convening meetings and effective communication. It's also inspiring to see the other sustainability projects supported by the program blossom as weeks progress. It really adds value to the sustainability efforts on campus and reinforces sustainability principles at UCSC.
Melissa: Tim, what is useful about having student support for projects you are working on?
Tim: Students are essential to UCSC's sustainability efforts, from the context of fostering their leadership and learning through all avenues of pursuits within and outside of the classroom. This project provides scaffolding for students to understand how to contribute to a collaborative effort of tracking and planning to address our ""Real Food"" goal of 40% by 2020 that the campus has set in motion (that was spearheaded by student interest).
Melissa: How is it valuable to you to mentor an intern through the program?
Tim: Being a graduate of UCSC and having had mentor support to achieve measurable impact with my sustainability work as student I could see no better avenue of expressing my appreciation to the campus than continuing to support student leadership development within UCSC sustainability efforts. Further, I hope to continue to extend their experience to meet and connect with broader agrifood efforts in the region, across the state, and even around the country.
Melissa: What made you want to participate in the Provost's Sustainability Internship program? What are some reasons why you would recommend this program to others?
Tim: My work involving campus food systems necessitates the need for supporting ongoing student involvement. The Provost's Sustainability Internship Program provides critical project development skills, a cadre of peer support, and multiple sites for accepted participants to choose from to commit their academic year working within. It directly supports strengthening the base of students who grow into leadership positions within our Food Systems Working Group and CASFS.
Crystal: I really wanted a sense of stability with an internship and the year-long program provides that through the weekly course and support by the coordinators and mentors. I would recommend this program to students because it's a great way to develop skills that are needed in today's job market no matter what sector or realm you desire to work for. The program also replicates what many careers entail, like forming a work plan for projects and working with a number of colleagues.
Melissa: What is the value and power of students and staff working together to foster a culture of sustainability at UCSC?
Tim: Collaboration can only occur when all involved parties feel adequately prepared to work together. This programs allows mentors and participants to design projects that allow meaningful action steps and impact that can inform the unit and the students of their potential to work together making UCSC more sustainable.
This year's interns in the Provost's Sustainability Internship Program.
The Provost's Sustainability Internship Program is currently accepting applications for 2013-2014 academic year. Student Intern applications and Staff Mentor applications are available online and are due March 15, 2013. To learn more about the program, visit the website.