Stopped Me In My Tracks – Maggie Lyon

Thanks to the generosity of the Bergami Family and the UNH Division of Student Affairs, eight UNH undergraduate students received a stipend to cover expenses related to their unpaid internship experience.  The eight recipients will be reflecting on their internship experience over the course of the summer. This entry is from Maggie Lyon, Nutrition & Dietetics Major, who is interning with Danbury Farmers’ Market.

This week was the first in which I’d handed out surveys to the participants of my workshops. I figured I would suggest data collection to some degree so that we’d have more information going into grant writing for next years programs. Once again, I’d managed to create another project for myself. Pondering this character trait of mine next to a stack of sixty some-odd surveys that I’d soon be entering into a spreadsheet, I looked through them simply wondering what folks had filled out. Bubbles had been filled in and options circled. Extraordinarily, however, were the few comments people wrote in on the blank bottoms of the page.

One participant wrote

            “Thank you for this program I could never afford to purchase these high quality vegetables and fruits

without these coupons. Last week I had two ears of corn which was the best I’d ever had in my life!

Pleased to purchase more today and make the black bean/corn/tomato/onion recipe from last week”

It stopped me in my tracks. I’m so grateful to have had this experience working with the Danbury Farmers’ Market because this is the entire reason I’m going into this field: to help people. It’s that simple.

This summer has been very hard on my work wise for a number of reasons, and I often find myself questioning why I am so invested; moved to take on more. I wonder if community nutrition is a field I can see myself getting into because it’s so much work that’s determined in large part by government funding as well plenty of bureaucratic red tape. And yet the payoff is so beautifully rewarding.

I am honestly am unsure if this aspect of the field is what I’d like to pursue, but I know a hell of a lot more having been boots-on-the-ground this summer and have gained a profound respect for the people I work with. These folks charge at this hill every day with passion and integrity, and that moves me. I have gained so much insight into time management, live (and translated) cooking demonstrations, and working with community members to help them get local and nutritious farmers’ market produce.

Upon returning to my last semester at UNH, I will be taking this experience back with me. I’d like to hold a class on teaching community cooking demonstrations: including suggested ideas, equipment to bring, and other handy tips to help students go into the field more prepared. As far as other internships go, I am uncertain. The next step in my education will be applying for supervised practice, more formally known as the Dietetic Internship. It’s essentially an educational rotation through all aspects of dietetic practice, and is required for credentialing. Perhaps in the future I may find myself interning again, but for now I’ll be focusing on school, work, and planning our wedding-which is more than enough to keep me busy. I will, however, continue suggesting internships to my peers as I think it’s an invaluable experience.

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