In With the Interns: Green Careers Week

by Melissa Harding

Trimming ferns

In with the Interns is our new segment featuring the 2014 high school interns; this segment will explore what they do, learn and experience this summer. Written by Kate Borger, this segment will also feature original words and artwork from the interns.

Our high school interns completed their third week of the summer internship with a focus on green careers. This included a panel in which community members from a wide variety of sustainability-focused fields spoke with the interns about their education and career paths. Career paths explored included architecture, law, engineering, beekeeping, education and horticulture. We also had a marvelous cooking class with Justine Cassell from Slow Food Pittsburgh, who had the interns prepare summer vegetable frittatas and a raw kale salad. Finally, the interns had a chance to teach young children all about plants under the guidance of Phipps docent and educator, Amy Troyani.

Here are some of the interns own words about this week and what they learned:

“My favorite part of this week was probably having the opportunity to individually shadow a member of the horticulture staff. I was assigned to Chris, who maintains the Indian Tropical Forest. It was so memorable because it was by far the activity that made me feel the most like an actual staff member. There was a good amount of independent work for me that morning; I put plants in a large flower pot, planted various ferns throughout the room, and assisted in collecting the larger dead leaves off of the ground. It gave good insight into the fact that many little things compromise and perfect the larger parts of our lives, which is something that can easily go unnoticed.”
– Ahmir Allen

“This week, working with a horticulture staff one on one was really great. It allowed me to more freely ask questions that specifically applied to me, and that I didn’t even know I had. Also, I really liked the experiences and advice the horticulture staff shared with us at the green careers lunch, such as “don’t be afraid to try different things” and “change your career path multiple times if necessary” because that is one of the things that worried me as I’m preparing to go to college.”
– Larissa Koumaka

“This is our third week and I loved it. We got more hands-on experience with the horticulture staff. We go to also shadow a horticulture staff member, so I shadowed a girl named Lauren and she worked in the greenhouses, basically watering and deadheading plants. It was amazing. I learned so much more about the greenhouse itself and the maintenance of plants. And then throughout the week I applied a lot of the things I learned from shadowing Lauren. On Wednesday we ate lunch with the horticulture staff and got a little insight on how they decided their professions and ended up at Phipps.”
– Alexis Smith

“This week at Phipps was very eye-opening. In a special way that any people with common interests can have. We had a lunch with the other staff at Phipps, where I learned that you don’t have to be specially trained to work in a specific horticulture field and in fact most staff took general plant science. I am glad that I plan to take horticulture at Penn State, then go to Bidwell Training Center to further advance my plant knowledge, knowing that I may be more qualified for a job at Phipps one day.”
– Aaron Sledge

“From our green careers week, I’ve retained a lot of information. At first, just having a list of green careers wasn’t all that exciting. When the panel of people who have green careers came in though, that’s when it got exciting. The gears in my head started turning and I could see doors opening for me. After hearing them talk, I really would like to get into something having to do with sustainable architecture or energy. This week has made me want to change this world to make it cleaner, greener and more.”
 – Dani Einloth

“Working one on one with someone that works at Phipps was one of my favorite things about this week. I feel like we should do that more often. It’s mostly about a high school intern shadowing a staff member. The staff member told us their job gave us a little tip on how to do it. Also we had to help them with their job. My second favorite thing about this week was when the staff members and college students telling us the story about how they ended up at Phipps. It was so interesting to see that some of their staff members never thought they would be working with plants and some of then grew up planting and ended up at Phipps.”
– Ephraim St. Cyr

“Green career week featured an extremely helpful panel of professionals that explained and discussed their green jobs. One thing I will forever take away from that is the advice given: “Find your niche and then inject the green part into it.” Wise words to help make wise life choices.”
– Will Grimm

Another full week comes to a close with minds and taste buds open to new experiences!

The above photos were taken by Kate Borger.

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