Internship Spotlight: Zoe Abbott Boyd
October 25, 2013
Zoe Abbot-Boyd is a junior Economics major with a Political Science minor. She was born in Maine, and then moved to Australia until she was 8. She then moved to New York City but now calls Portland home.
CDC: So, where did you intern at this summer?
Zoe Abbot-Boyd: This past summer I interned at Leave It Better, a non-profit organization in New York City. The organization’s mission is to promote positive environmental change by teaching children about sustainable practices, and is primarily focused on instigating positive change within the U.S. food system.
CDC: What initially drew you to that field?
Zoe: As an economics major and political science minor, I enjoy thinking critically about complex economic, political, and social issues such as the political economy of food production in the United States. In my American Government and Economy class I first studied how the nature and consequences of the dynamic interaction between political and economic forces affect public policies. During my environmental science class I also analyzed the relationships between society and agricultural forms, as well as technologies of food production and their ecological impacts. On a personal level, reading books by Marion Nestle and Michael Pollan also sparked my interest in the field. While I had academic and personal experience learning about the politics and economics affecting our food system, I did not have a firm understanding of sustainable agriculture, or farming in general. I wanted to gain a sound understanding of the every-day issues that farmers face, because it would give me a broader understanding of all the factors involved in the food system.
CDC: What did you enjoy about your internship?
Zoe: I had an excellent experience interning with Leave It Better. During the internship I was responsible facilitating classes on harvesting and regeneration. I worked with team members at the Heights Community Farmers Market where we, along with the children in the neighborhood, sold produce from our main garden in the Bronx. I also wrote weekly blogs for the website.
CDC: Did you gain any new insight from the experience?Zoe: Going into the internship I believed one of the biggest causal factors of obesity was the growing disconnect between eating food and understanding the roots of where it comes from. Working in the south Bronx, I realized that many people are disconnected from their food through no fault of their own. Much of the south Bronx is a “food desert”, and the majority of those living there are low income families relying on food stamps—which are often accepted at stores stocking food with poor nutrient value. As paying the bills each week can be a struggle, most members in this community do not have time to consider the nutrient content of their family’s food. By helping children make a connection from an early age to where real food comes from, I witnessed the beginnings of a love and desire for fresh and nutritious food that can be carried into adulthood and later generations. Society can alter the way it views food, and involving children is a crucial part of instigating positive change for our future. It felt amazing to be a part of that change.
“Society can alter the way it views food, and involving children is a crucial part of instigating positive change for our future. It felt amazing to be a part of that change.”
CDC: Do you have any tips or suggestions for people trying to secure a similar internship?
Zoe: The Leave It Better team was extremely welcoming and helpful. I reached out to the director about potentially interning for Leave It Better in early April, and was warmly received. If you find an organization that seems like a good fit for your interests, don’t hesitate to reach out and contact the company on your own. When it comes to non-profits, I think the most important thing to do is to make your passion for the particular causes explicit.
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