I joined Syracuse Community Geography as an intern in the Spring of 2014, after taking GEO 400: Community GIS with Jonnell Robinson. Interested in farming and food systems, I was excited by the idea of working closely with Syracuse Grows, a grassroots, non-profit working to leverage resources for, and advocate on behalf of, community gardens throughout the city. Over the course of my internship, I have supported their efforts by helping to coordinate, organize, and promote several signature annual events, including the Spring Resource Drive, Annual Meeting, and Harvest Dinner. I have also applied to several grants on behalf of the organization, tried my hand at fundraising, generated content for the redevelopment of their website, and continually updated supporters via e-newsletters. It was this involvement with Syracuse Grows that piqued my interest in the agricultural backgrounds and ways of refugee community gardeners in Syracuse, which would became the focus of my Honors Capstone project.
Through several collaborative community-based mapping projects, Syracuse Community Geography also presented the opportunity to hone my GIS, map design, and technical writing skills. During the summer of 2014, I worked with data from the Department of Health to prepare a map of reported Lyme disease cases and generated service area maps for a non-profit looking to expand free internet access in Syracuse. In December, I connected the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY) with SCG and collaborated with another intern to analyze data, prepare maps, and produce a report on their certified organic operations and acreage in New York. Most recently, I learned how to generate original data using GPS units for a local trail mapping project on Syracuse’s east side.
My internship at the Syracuse Community Geography Program has been invaluable for the primary research, analytical, and technical skills I’ve developed during projects, the relationships I’ve built with community partners and other interns, and the thorough exposure I have had to geographic theory and application. In the Fall, I hope to build on my experience at SCG through an internship at the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C. Ultimately, I would like to use my training in geography to have a hand in envisioning (and ideally implementing) informed and bottom-up changes to the regional foodscape.