When I reached out to Suzi in April 2014 to ask about interning with Petaluma Bounty, I had no idea I’d be signing on for life.
I was an English Literature major at Sonoma State, newly passionate about community food and sustainability, but unsure how to take my first tentative steps toward community involvement without the supportive tether of school to get me in the door. My work with the Join Us Making Progress (JUMP) office at SSU had introduced me to different community organizations and given me the opportunity to plan and lead volunteer and educational experiences for students, but reaching out to ask about an internship I hadn’t seen advertised and didn’t need for school credits was way out of my comfort zone.
I’m naturally shy, and it took a few days in the office for Suzi to pick my brain to see what I was interested in and for me to realize that I could ask to learn what I wanted to learn. My food justice passion bubbled up and I spent the next several months bouncing between the office and the farm, getting to know so many different aspects of the Bounty.
I am a person known for taking some time to warm up to people, but thankfully, my slow burn time was a perfect match for the internship that never really ended. My internship with Petaluma Bounty was my first step in my food justice career, which has so far included two years of FoodCorps service teaching garden and nutrition education, a master’s degree in Public Policy focused on Food Policy, and the door to my food justice career, from two years of FoodCorps service teaching garden and nutrition education, to completing my master’s degree in Public Policy, to now working as a Food Justice Community Organizer and transitioning into a policy role with HOPE Collaborative in Oakland. But even as I’ve moved around for jobs and school, I’ve always stayed connected to the Bounty, as a board member, a volunteer, and working on projects here and there.
My time with Petaluma Bounty has taught me my most important lessons in building and maintaining community. Before my internship, I was shy and reluctant to ask to be involved in projects and committees without an invite. Now, though still quite shy, the first thing I do when I’m in a new place is search for ways to sign up, show up, and build community.