Washington Island, Wis. (December 5, 2022) – Gathering Ground is now accepting applications for its 2022 summer internship program, a work-learn-live experience on regenerative agriculture and ecological living on Washington Island, Wisconsin.
The program is for young adults 18 to 27 with an interest in environmental studies, organic and regenerative agriculture, food justice, conservation, and communal and ecological living, and who seek an opportunity to explore their curiosities alongside like-minded peers, with teachers and practitioners.
The mission of the summer is to learn together how to answer the question: “How on Earth should we live?”
Now in its fifth year, the program is expanding from 6 weeks to 10 weeks. Living on a Lake Michigan island with a population of 700 that is accessible only by ferry from the tip of Door County, students will also experience the unique art and music culture of the island as well as learn about the benefits of living in a small community.
“This program is designed for young adults interested in environmental stewardship. While the program focuses on agriculture and students receive an intro to growing fruit, vegetables, and livestock, equally the questions that drive our conversation relate to conservation and healthy, functioning ecologies of people, land, air and water. For example, we focus on agroforestry because of its ability to build soil and provide habitat for wildlife. That’s a win-win for everyone. And we try to have some fun and grow that barn-raising, community-oriented spirit,” said Russell Rolffs, program director and farm manager at Gathering Ground.
During the 10-week program, student will work 20-30 hours at a local farm or land-based business, such as a farm-to-table restaurant, learn through hands-on instruction in Gathering Ground’s orchard and vineyards, and attend biweekly field trips to see how other organizations are contributing to the beneficial relationships between humans and the natural environment.
Students will also have seminars on current topics of food and environmental studies and cook meals together using local ingredients. “We hope the all-around practices, values, passions discovered or rekindled at Gathering Ground will be carried with participants into their future careers and studies, whatever they may be,” said Rolffs.
“This [program] provided me with hands-on experience that fostered my relationship to my environment, and to the food that I eat,” said 2021 participant Emma Knickbine, a UWM graduate student studying ecoliterature. “Gathering Ground is a great place to be if you want to learn about growing, nurturing, and respecting lives, whether human or nonhuman.”
The program runs from June 1 through August 10 and costs $350, which covers subsidized housing, curriculum, field trips, and one common meal each week. If participants have their own island housing, the price is reduced to $200.
“Housing is a big issue for Gathering Ground’s summer program as it is for many Door County businesses. Right now we are relying on the generosity of a few community members who support our mission; we hope to find a long-term solution for housing our students soon.” Rolffs said.
For their work at local farms and businesses, students will be paid directly through their job site. The work at the local farm is part of the hands-on learning experience and gives opportunities for students to earn money over the summer. Gathering Ground’s directors will also work with any students who are in college programs and wish to credit for their summer experience. The program culminates with students sharing with the public about what they experienced and learned over the summer.
“Part of the aim of the program is to learn to communicate their passions with others. Through interpretive signs or articles or even flute performances students learn to share about the importance of biodiversity or agroforestry or other topics that have captured their imaginations during their time on the Island,” Rolffs said.
To apply for the program go to: www.gatheringgroundwi.org/summer or contact: Russell Rolffs at firstname.lastname@example.org.