Hello, all! My name is Sharon Licht, and for the past five months I’ve had the privilege of working as a Policy & Communications Intern with CalCAN. I am a senior at UC Berkeley majoring in Conservation & Resource Studies with a focus on Agroecology.
I recently had the chance to speak with CalCAN’s former interns, and get a sense of how their experiences with CalCAN impacted their academic and professional paths. Read on to find out what CalCAN’s past interns are up to now!
One of CalCAN’s first interns, Adria now works with the Environment Center of San Luis Obispo (SLO) and the SLO County Food Systems Coalition. She has been involved with the sustainable food and agricultural community since working on the campus farm as an undergraduate at Pitzer College. After getting her Environmental Studies degree, Adria went on to complete her masters in Public Policy with a focus on food systems at Cal Poly SLO in June. She considers her policy internship with CalCAN to be an important learning experience that contributed largely to her decision to enroll in her masters program, and also prepared her for numerous graduate public policy courses. When asked about the role CalCAN plays in sustainable agriculture, Adria noted that while other organizations typically choose one environmental issue to focus on, CalCAN covers the intersection between two extremely important and relevant issue areas–agriculture and the environment–thus fulfilling a unique and necessary role.
Adam, who went on to become CalCAN’s very own Policy Associate, also spent the summer of 2011 working with Jeanne and Renata as an intern. His thesis research on climate change and agriculture initially motivated Adam to pursue the internship. Looking back on the experience, he explained what a large role Jeanne and Renata played in the development of his thesis research, exposing him to the climate and agriculture landscape in California and introducing him to community members he interviewed for his thesis. After completing his masters in Environmental Studies at Brown and temporarily working with the United Nations Development Program, Adam found his way back to CalCAN! As the Policy Associate, Adam now actively develops strategies for climate solutions in agriculture, focusing largely on renewable energy and the expansion of opportunities for farmers to create clean alternative energy. He appreciates CalCAN’s unique approach to science-based, stakeholder-informed climate action that is geared toward collaboration and engaging both the political process and the agricultural community in discussions on climate issues.
“I think CalCAN’s success can be attributed to the ways we take issues that others are advocating on, and work to bring in diverse voices to make the real world case for why and how action should be taken.”
Elena interned with CalCAN during her fourth year at UC Davis. After graduating with a degree in Environmental Science and Management, she worked as an environmental analyst for about a year before taking on her current position with Backroads, a worldwide active travel company, where she works as a trip leader for biking, hiking, and multi-sport trips. Despite currently working in France, Elena found time to reflect on her internship. She credits her experience with CalCAN for exposing her to the wide variety of approaches that can be taken in the environmental field, and for inspiring her to pursue a career in environmental planning. Elena considers CalCAN’s mission to be one of great importance, as it focuses on helping community members understand what can be done to slow down climate change and address the water crisis in California. In the future, Elena plans to pursue a graduate degree in environmental law or planning.
“By working directly with farmers who are or will be affected by climate change, CalCAN provides a focused approach to promoting climate protection in California.”
Hui studied Communications at the University of Maine, where she wrote her thesis on international students’ engagement with storytelling about food and cooking as a tool to find their identities away from home. After graduating, she moved to California to work with CalCAN, and looks back fondly on the opportunities she had to engage with farmers and ranchers during her internship. Now a second year PhD student in the Sociology Department at Michigan State, Hui attributes her focus on sustainable agriculture to her internship. Hui has always had a passion for food issues, but it wasn’t until working with CalCAN that she decided to apply to agricultural programs for her PhD. Within the Sociology Department, Hui specializes in food, agriculture, science and technology, and also encompasses specializations in urban food systems and environmental policy. In the future, she plans to use her research to inform community members about how they can improve local food security and their environments. She attributes the practical nature of her goals to her internship with CalCAN, which taught her the importance of bridging the gap between agricultural researchers and community members. I was surprised to learn that Hui has any free time, which she spends volunteering at a farmers market!
With an academic background in environmental policy and past experience working on farms and community gardens, Dru was excited to work with CalCAN in order to combine her existing interests. After concluding her internship with CalCAN, Dru took on an internship at Earthjustice, a nonprofit public interest environmental law firm in San Francisco, and has also worked as a research assistant for an environmental author. Dru plans to work on environmental and food systems issues, and is looking for her niche in the expansive advocacy network. She credits her internship with CalCAN for opening her eyes to the numerous layers of advocacy and organization necessary to yield political change. When asked about CalCAN’s contributions to sustainable agriculture, Dru eloquently emphasized the important juncture at which CalCAN works, reminding us that the need and potential to make changes at the intersection of climate policy and sustainable agriculture will only become more apparent, in the government and on the farm, as climate change worsens.
“I was able to gain a much deeper and practical understanding of the legislative process, to speak with local farmers and hear their perspectives on environmental issues, and to learn about what it takes to be a successful non-profit.”
We thank all of CalCAN’s interns for their contribution to our work and wish them the very best with their pursuits!