Learning for a Greener Future 2019: Week 1
Jun 25

Learning for a Greener Future 2019: Week 1

By Cheyenne Griffin and Cody Jones, Intern Leaders

The Learning for a Greener Future internship is a six-week program offered by Phipps to Pittsburgh-area high school students. Cheyenne Griffin and Cody Jones completed the internship last summer and have returned this year as Intern Leaders. In this blog they will document the interns’ weekly experiences and share their insights and ideas!

We are Cody and Cheyenne, returning interns from last year’s high school internship program. This year, we’re the co-intern leaders! Two other interns, Ayanna and Jeremiah, participated in the Phipps high school internship in previous years and are returning. Our internship began last Thursday, June 13th, 2019. This was our orientation day, in which we got to learn more about the other interns. This day also consisted of lots of paperwork and get-to-know-you games.

Monday began our first full official week. Our internship is a six week program that runs Mondays through Thursdays. The topic of the week was food systems. We began our week with a tour of the conservatory courtesy of Debbie Roth, a volunteer and master gardener. All of the interns got to develop our teamwork skills with games like the human knot, and friendship activities. In the afternoon, we went on a nature walk to Schenley Park. Interns work together each year to put together small garden plots in Phipps’ outdoor edible garden, so we began to chart out our plots.

On Tuesday, we spent lots of time with “Farmer Mike” Bechtel. He manages the edible garden with his amazing green thumb. He explained the tenets of organic gardening to us, one of which is nourishing the soil. Organic gardening focuses on more than individual plant: it focuses on ecosystem and soil health. We began our discussions on food systems as a group, and studied the paths food takes to reach us and what can inhibit people getting healthy food. That afternoon, Adam Hass, Phipps’ Interpretive Specialist talked to us about the Nature Lab’s sustainable functions and those of the new Exhibit Staging Center. He focused on how a sustainable indoor environment can positively impact human health.

Wednesday began with us planting the gardens that we had planned on Monday. After the gardens were done, we had more discussions on how different parts of the food systems can affect and pressure other parts. After our busy morning, we had our first day of horticulture shadowing. The horticulture staff runs the “behind the scenes” aspects of Phipps: making sure plants are cared for and ready for the many seasonal shows. Some interns helped Rychele Stipcak with replacing old plants in the Cuba Tropical Forest with new plants, and some interns assisted with repotting plants and pruning in the production greenhouses.

Thursdays are the last day of the week for interns, and we always do a cooking lesson in the morning. This week, we had our lesson at the Phipps Garden Center in Shadyside. There, herb society member Andrea Jackson showed us around the herb garden outside the Garden Center. She showed us not only common herbs like basil and mint, but also sweet woodruff and yarrow. We met Slow Food Pittsburgh members Alyce Amery-Spencer and Cathy Brinjak. We made a huge salad with homemade ranch dressing, baked kale chips, croutons from scratch, and lemon cake with strawberries for dessert. Andrea had prepared herbal syrups ahead of time to be mixed with seltzer water for healthier sodas. In the afternoon, we talked about food insecurity and nutrition with Let’s Move Pittsburgh representatives Maris Altieri and Sarah Cullo.

Our first week as interns was incredibly busy and exciting. We have already learned so much about each other and about the sustainable future we want to help create. Stay tuned for the next five weeks as we blog about our intern experiences!