By Katie W., Youth Leader in Agriculture, Summer 2022
Graduate, Stuarts Draft High School

My name is Katie and I am a recent graduate of Stuarts Draft High School. I will be attending Bridgewater College this fall to study Health and Exercise Sciences in hopes of pursuing a career in physical therapy. This summer, I was given the opportunity to serve as one of the four Youth Leaders in Agriculture at Project GROWS. On any given day, my responsibilities ranged from being a farmhand to complete tasks in the fields with Robert and Brynn, to being a participant in Kenzie and Jenna’s sessions in which we explored our feelings and injustices within our nation’s food systems, or even being Nichole’s extra set of hands on field trips with local children from the Boys and Girls Club.

This spring, I began looking for summer jobs and came across the Youth Leaders in Agriculture program on my high school guidance department’s Facebook page. When applying, I was pretty much only looking for a way to earn extra money while having the chance to learn a little more about farming. I wasn’t sure what I really wanted to take away from my time here, other than enjoying the fun learning environment with an equal opportunity to help and teach others. Project GROWS provided me with that opportunity and so much more! This summer, I found a new level of passion for people and helping them easily access healthy food.

Over the course of the summer, and especially in the last couple of weeks as the program comes to an end, I’ve thought a lot about how I can make this short summer farm job relate to my future goals in the medical field. While the physical labor may not be extremely applicable, other aspects of farming surely are. These include taking time to notice and remember small details, especially when speaking with another person as it helps build a strong connection between one another; learning to give positive and effective feedback to everyone; and how to follow a plan correctly through to the end. 

As I’ve hinted at already, my favorite part of this summer was building new relationships with the people at Project GROWS. Many of the Project GROWS staff members have shared their individual stories with me, and every one of the stories have been incredible to learn about. Not only that, but it has meant so much to me to work in a place where the other employees have wanted to hear my story as well. During my time here, I have also become more confident in my abilities, which I fully believe is because of the people I work with. If you had asked me 8 weeks ago to prepare a garden bed, to identify varieties of squashes or cucumbers, or to insert myself into activities or conservation, I would have given you a blank stare. Now, I am confident that I can perform any of those tasks exceptionally.