Volunteers of the Month: Summer Interns

September 5, 2013

CUESA’s Volunteer of the Month program recognizes the dedication and work of some of our most active volunteers. CUESA relies on volunteers to help with education programs, special events, public outreach, and other activities that help fulfill our mission to cultivate a sustainable food system. Learn more about volunteering and sign up here.

This month we recognize a special set of volunteers, our summer interns. CUESA hosts interns throughout the year in all areas of the organization. Contact Administrative, Events, and Volunteer Coordinator Cindy Mendoza at cindy@cuesa.org if you are interested in interning.

Three Bay Area natives returned home from college this summer and interned at CUESA supporting fundraising events, conducting market research, and creating educational videos. Kayla Abe, a Geography and Urban Studies major at Vassar College, created promotional and educational materials for CUESA’s Summer Celebration and supported event publicity on online platforms. John Fitch, an Agricultural Business student at the California Polytechnic State University of San Luis Obispo, conducted seller and shopper surveys and price comparisons with national retailers and local farmers markets. And Madeline Wheeler, a Writing Seminars major at Johns Hopkins University, created a YouTube series called Foodwise Bites, which highlights seasonal produce and vendors at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. (Kayla and John are pictured above, and Madeline below.)

“Our summer interns were an integral part of our organization and jointly logged in over 500 hours related to their coursework. Kayla, John and Madeline each made significant contributions to advance the work of CUESA, and it was a pleasure to have them with us,” says Executive Director Dave Stockdale.

CUESA: Where does your interest in food come from?

Kayla: As a San Francisco native, it’s hard not to cultivate an interest in food! The restaurant scene here is amazingly diverse and committed to quality seasonal produce. Food is such a social medium, and in San Francisco knowledge surrounding food sourcing and preparation has almost become a necessity in the city’s social scene. My mom is also a fantastic cook, so I’ve always been appreciative (and critical!) of great food.

John: My interest in food began at a young age when I found that eating well improved my performance in athletics and made me feel healthy on a daily basis. I began mixed martial arts when I was four and received a black belt in my early teens. I played organized baseball for my entire life, rugby since high school, and football at Redwood High School, where I was a captain and all-league offensive/defensive lineman. I credit a portion of my success to the benefits of eating healthy, real, and unprocessed foods.

Madeline: My mother is in the restaurant business, so I was exposed to the food world at a very young age and quickly developed my own interest in it.

CUESA: What were you doing this summer when you weren’t interning for CUESA?

Kayla: This summer I also interned with City Hall’s Department of the Environment working with the education team and graphics department, mainly doing photography. Aside from work, I love sewing, hot yoga, playing tennis and guitar, and cooking, and I spend many of my free days reading in cafes.

John: When not in class or studying, I am active outdoors hiking, biking, or hanging out at the beach in Marin County or San Luis Obispo.

Madeline: I interned at Postcard Communications & Consulting, a boutique PR firm that represents food and beverage clients in the Bay Area. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, writing, and spending time with my younger sister.

CUESA: Do you have an insider market tip or a favorite produce item at the market?

Kayla: I absolutely love stone fruit season and have been obsessed with this summer’s peaches and nectarines, though my favorites at the market right now are probably Emerald Beaut plums. I’m really excited to see pomegranates make their way to the market as well!

John: The Flavor King pluot is the most delicious stone fruit at the farmers market. You’re missing out if you haven’t yet tried this ingenious crossbreed.

Madeline: I am a huge fan of Sow—all of their juices are amazing, and Luisa and Derek always have smiles on their faces. It was also always fun to see what Tacolicious was up to on Thursdays, with their guest chef taco series.

CUESA: What will you be doing after your CUESA internship?

Kayla: In early September I’ll be leaving for Japan, where I will be living with a homestay family and studying at a Japanese university for a year. Since my internship with CUESA ended, I’ve been trying to consolidate a years’ worth of clothing into one suitcase!

John: I will be back in San Luis Obispo attending school at Cal Poly for my fourth year. Soon after, I will be seeking employment in agriculture related to marketing or accounting.

Madeline: This fall, I will be studying abroad at King’s College in London.

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