Internship Profile: Meryn Corkery

Meryn Corkery Image courtesy of AMS Events from Farmade 2017

Internship:

Communications Intern and Academic Assistant WorkLearn

Supervisors:

Melanie Kuxdorf (Internship) and Veronik Campbell (WorkLearn)

What are you studying?

I am in my third year in the Global Resource Systems program in LFS.

What was your role as an intern?

As the Communications Intern, my role was to help promote the various programs at the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems through both physical advertising and online methods. Additionally, I also contributed to two major projects: the CSFS Annual Report and a Student Driven Engagement Strategy.

What did you get out of doing this internship?

I think some of the most important takeaways I received from this internship was a supportive work environment and the opportunities to explore different avenues of communication within food systems. Both the Academic Assistant and Communications roles had similar tasks, however, the way I had to approach each one was slightly different. I had to put myself in the shoes of the target audience and think “What would a student need to hear?”, “Where would a professor look for resources?” “How would a community member interpret this statement?”. This made me reconsider the role of media in our lives and how it can bring about systemic change.

What was the most surprising thing you learned?

I think one of the most surprising things I learnt was the history of the UBC Farm. I had always known that the Farm was originally a student-run initiative, but I hadn’t realized that it was literally students dragging their professors to the Farm and leading the revitalization of the Farm when it was threatened for development. It was interesting to learn about the dynamic position the Farm is in – straddling both the student and the institutional side, as it offers food for the UBC Campus community but also serves as a living laboratory for students. There are no other University farms like it in North America; most are either entire student-run, small-scale operations, or larger research-only farms.

Why are you interested in working within the food system?

Food is uniquely situated at the intersection of many issues that are gaining traction as priorities that need to be addressed. The food system impacts our emotional and physical well-being in varying ways – from the provision of culturally relevant food to being able to meet our nutritional needs, to providing us with comfort and a sense of place. It additionally impacts the physical environment and is a key contributor to climate change. My passion lies where all those intersect – what resultant profession this may lead to is unsure. Food transcends barriers in order to unite us, lending itself as a valuable touch point for change-making. I don’t know the answers to the sustainability problems of the world or how to solve world hunger or decrease inequality, but I do believe that looking at what, how, why and with whom we eat is a good start.

What would you like students to know about the CSFS at UBC Farm?

I would like them to know that the Farm is their space – whether they choose to utilize it through an academic, professional, or recreational capacity is up to them. You don’t have to be enrolled in a course to come to the Farm and hang out with the chickens, or volunteer to eat (I mean pick…) blueberries. There are so many physical and psychological benefits of getting outside and engaging with the land again. The Farm is an amazing reprieve from the stressful and fast-paced university life.

What is your favourite thing to do at the UBC Farm?

I love walking through the Farm at dusk, as the sun sets over the fields of brassicas. I love going to Farmade and running into many many familiar faces. I love hearing about all of the different research projects going on at the Farm. I love browsing the market and giving my mom a tour when she visits. I love walking into the Farm Centre and instantly feeling welcomed. I love digging my hands in the dirt of a soil pit for my soil science class. So I guess my favourite thing at the Farm is the diverse activities that you can do there and the community you find within in it once you start hanging around enough!