Brenda Thompson: Internship

brochure page with photo of bark and text about the tribal administration & governance page

Brenda Thompson

Internship: Dodge Nature Center

What is your major?

Environmental Studies

Where was your internship placement? (What is the purpose of the organization?)

I am interning at Dodge Nature Center. Dodge is an environmental education and nature reserve center in West St. Paul, MN. It was founded in 1967 by Olivia Irvine Dodge, a pioneer in environmental education. 320 acres make up the woodlands, prairie lands, wetland, hiking trails and on-site farm with an orchard and bee hives. They have multiple outdoor classrooms for up to 50 different curriculum topics and the center also offers tours for community members, school groups and also includes an on-site preschool as well.

What did your general duties involve?

I am a Sustainable Agriculture/Horticulture Intern at Dodge and I work at the farm. Each day I get exposed to different tasks that make a sustainable farm run. I feed the farm animals and let them out to pasture. Dodge has sheep, goats, pigs, a calf, a donkey, five different kinds of chickens and pigeons. I have also helped with the care of the animals by helping give the piglets shots, and switch chickens from the chick room to semi-adult coop. I also collect chicken eggs, which Dodge sells at their main office and preschool. I also help with the planting and care of the vegetable fields. I have helped plant various crops, such as, broccoli, cauliflower, pumpkins, squash, asparagus, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant and clover. I have also suited up to help care for the honey bees as well. I will have to opportunity to help harvest honey at the end of the summer. Dodge uses their animal waste as compost and has an on-site compost pile, which is used as fertilizer. I have also aided in a trip to the store to buy hoses for watering and a trip to the vet for a sick piglet. It is hard when you see animals get sick or injured but that is also a part of farm life. Being a farmer is hard work, but I have enjoyed being exposed to farm life.

What was your most memorable experience?

I really enjoy working with the steer. He is my favorite animal out at Dodge. It is fun to work with the animals and get to know their personalities. I have also enjoyed watching the piglets grow throughout the summer. Though farm work is hard work, I’ve come to enjoy it and have gained a strong interest in working with sustainable farms.

Has your internship influenced your career path?

This internship has exposed me to how a nature center operates along with a sustainable farm. This experience at Dodge has sparked an interest in working for a non-profit along with encouraging sustainable agriculture. I have thought about CSA work for farther down the road, but I would need more experience to do that. I have also thought about working for or with a community garden program in urban areas. I have been working on my own garden plot this summer and have found the work very fulfilling. I would love to be able to help community members gain an interest in growing their own vegetables and teaching them how to do it in a sustainable way. I have become quite the advocate for 67rtalternative food systems. I have always enjoyed gardening and I would like to be able to work in an environment that encourages organics over the use of pesticides and fertilizers.