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  • Shannon Chinnock (Chickasaw, Cherokee, Blackfeet)

What I learned…

The time spent with our partnerships with Persephone Farm, Soggy Hill Farm and Institute for Applied Ecology was one of my favorite aspects of the Fall 2023 internship. I loved getting to meet new people and getting to know the agencies and organizations we are partnering with . Each of our partnerships have different needs and it was a great learning experience for me. One of the projects that I enjoyed working on the most is the Scope of Work for Soggy Hill Farms. I've never been part of a restoration project, and it was nice to be there at the start of the partnership and see what work that entails. The planning aspect of the Scope of Work has been a lot of fun and also a lot of learning new concepts and ideas. It was nice to be able to put my horticulture education to use. 

 I also really enjoyed spending our time in the classroom. Rose always presented us with information that was relevant to climate change, and how others are adapting to these changes. I love how much passion Rose has about climate change, and it was nice to learn about what is going on worldwide and how different cultures are adapting to multiple challenges. I liked learning about dry farming from our partner, the Dry Farm Institute, the most, and I feel conservation of water will be extremely important in the years to come. 

Rose also teaches health and wellness resiliency, and that what we focus on has an impact on how we feel. It's important to learn about the different challenges our world is going through, but not to be bogged down by all the "negative". Rose teaches balance, resiliency, and that having a positive perspective and hope for the future can prevent us from becoming overwhelmed and hopeless. 

 I've never had a job that focuses on Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), and I really appreciated the fact that it was applied to all aspects of the work that we do at Elderberry Wisdom Farm. I enjoyed learning from Dr. May about the ways our ancestors treated the land and the relationship that they had with Spirit, and that it isn't separate from the work that we do. In the past, I've had to work with the land without being able to apply TEK because it wasn't taught and it wasn't an important aspect of working with the world of nature. I always felt that I was only honoring half of myself. Being able to work the land and show it the respect and good intent it deserves is incredibly fulfilling to me. It was wonderful to be encouraged to honor my ancestors and my heritage, and to learn about the ways of my tribes, the Chickasaw, Cherokee and Blackfoot. 

 Another aspect of the classroom that I really enjoyed was getting to work with our Native Plant Nursery Specialist, Marsha Holt-Kingsley, and studying the textbook that we used, Nursery Manual for Native Plants:  A Guide for Tribal Nurseries. This text was well written, and I appreciate the knowledge I gained from it. The text focuses on how to grow and care for native plant species and all that entails. I have an education in horticulture, but I did not specifically learn about how to take care of native plant species with the challenges that climate change brings. The textbook presented a lot of new information to me that I can apply working with native plant species here in our nursery. 

In addition to reading the text together, we each got to present to the class a chapter from the text of our choosing. I'm not comfortable publicly speaking, so creating a presentation and then presenting it to the class was challenging to me. Rose wanted each intern to give a total of three presentations during the internship so that we each get used to speaking publicly by giving us experience. Though it wasn't easy for me, I appreciated strengthening my public communication skills. 

 I loved getting to work with all of the interns, our partners, Rose, and Aaronda. I believe that EWF has a great team of well-rounded individuals who really care about the work that they do, and want EWF to succeed.

*** Spring and Summer 2024 Habitat Restoration Internships ***Now accepting applications.

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