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Past Profiles

Throughout the summer of 2015, CALS NYS Interns answered questions about their expectations for the summer, their experiences so far, and what they hoped to learn and accomplish. Sign up for the CaRDI newsletter to get the latest intern stories and updates.


Halle Halle Bershad photoBershad

Quality Assurance Intern, Muller Quaker Dairy
Host Community: Batavia, NY

Major: Food Science
Class Year: 2017

What do you hope to gain through your participation in the CALS NYS Internship Program?

I hope to gain a better understanding of the departments within a food company along with expanding my knowledge of various techniques and methods used to determine specific quality aspects of a food product.

Describe your community engagement project:

The goal of my community engagement project is to help connect the youth and those unemployed with opportunities at local food and beverage companies. By expanding the resources that make job/internship postings available and increasing the knowledge of career paths related to the food/beverage industry, both the company and the Batavia community can benefit from it.

What have been the best parts of (a) your internship and (b) your community engagement experience so far?

Best parts of the internship:
The people are great. Even from the first day I walked in as a complete stranger in a new environment, my coworkers have been so friendly and made me feel very welcome. It is a fairly new company so the plant looks nice and brand new and the lab technology is modern and advanced. The products are great. I think it says a lot about a food company when an employee that assists in making the product, still loves and enjoys the product. Muller yogurt is of high quality and has classic and innovative flavors that will change the way consumers look at yogurt.

Best parts of my community engagement piece:

  • Being able to give back to a community that is hosting me.
  • Meeting the people “behind the scenes” that allow Batavia to prosper economically and socially.
  • Learning new things about Batavia that I would not necessarily notice by walking down the street.

What features of your host community are you so far most excited about?

I grew up in a suburban neighborhood, so Western New York is a bit of a culture shock, but I am gradually appreciating how other people live in rural community. I am excited to explore the town more and the surrounding areas to obtain a better view of what it is like to live in Upstate New York.


Maximiliano AlaghbandCALS NYS Intern Maximiliano Alaghband at work at StartFast Venture Accelerator

StartFast Associate, StartFast Venture Accelerator
Host Community: Syracuse, NY

Major: Biology and Society
Class Year: 2017

What do you hope to gain through your participation in the CALS NYS Internship Program?

Through participating in the CALS NYS Internship Program, I hope to gain professional skills; insight into entrepreneurship, the tech industry and their role in the economic success of the Upstate region; and a deeper, more practical understanding of community development frameworks.

Describe your community engagement project:

For my community engagement project, I am collaborating with Upstate Venture Connect (UVC), a regional entrepreneurial networking organization that strives to promote entrepreneurship in Upstate New York, viewing it as a means to the economic success of the region. Identifying the region's impressive number of college students as a critical asset in achieving its vision and securing Upstate NY’s future, I am working with UVC to attract and retain entrepreneurial students in the region. I am conducting interviews with current students and recent graduates engaged in entrepreneurial activity from colleges and universities around the region, in order to produce three key deliverables: a profile of the entrepreneurial student, an understanding of the resources that they are tapping into (what's working well), and recommendations based on what they feel they need. From these results, I will provide suggestions to UVC and related organizations on how to better support student entrepreneurs in order to retain them in Upstate New York.

What have been the best parts of (a) your internship and (b) your community engagement experience so far?

I really enjoy how dynamic and flexible the workplace is at StartFast. I am constantly presented with opportunities to take on new, diverse tasks that I have significant creative license on and that I can shift between at will. I don’t even have the chance to get bored!  I have really enjoyed being able to attend entrepreneurial networking events, like the UVANY event that took place in Ithaca a few weeks ago, and interviewing student entrepreneurs. Speaking to and hearing from excited, passionate young people about their ideas and how they are making them a reality is truly inspiring. It has also been encouraging and exciting to see government officials and prominent businesspeople endorse these events and pledge their support to initiatives that promote entrepreneurship.

What features of your host community are you so far most excited about?

Having lived in Syracuse for four years without spending an entire summer here, I am excited to explore new parts of the city and experience the myriad events and festivals that are held during the summer months. This past weekend, for example, I was able to attend a Polish Festival. I wasn’t aware of the strong Polish presence that exists here in Syracuse, and it was fun to see the members of this ethnic enclave proudly celebrating their heritage. I hope that by exploring and attending events like these I’ll be able to deepen my understanding of my city and the diverse experiences and backgrounds of my fellow citizens so that I can be a more active, contributive citizen.


Adeline CALS NYS Intern Adeline BakewellBakewell

Horticulture and Outreach Intern, Darwin Martin House
Host Community:  Buffalo, NY

Major: Natural Resources & Plant Science
Class Year: 2016

What do you hope to gain through your participation in the CALS NYS Internship Program?

A professional experience coupled with personal place making skills.

Describe your community engagement project:

I am the first CALS NYS Internship Program intern placed in Buffalo so far, so my role in this ongoing research project is to develop a thorough understanding of Buffalo, including obstacles and opportunities in regards to youth attraction and retention. I hope to identify and understand recent successes, of which there are many.

What have been the best parts of (a) your internship and (b) your community engagement experience so far?

My internship so far has been entirely shaped by my mentor, Nellie Gardner. Her enthusiasm and expertise make me excited to go to work each day and be challenged. So far my community engagement experience has led me to seek out new activities and places, but I think I am most excited about the deep history Buffalo has to offer. No discussion of the future can ignore what made Buffalo great to begin with.

What features of your host community are you so far most excited about?

Buffalo is a wonderful city to explore. The work put into revitalizing the city is apparent everywhere. I really love the renovated waterfront, where there is everything from nature preserves to free concerts and festivals.


Andi Hawk

Marketing Intern, The Finger Lakes Wine Lab
Host Community: Ithaca, NY

Major: Viticulture and Enology
Class Year: 2016

What do you hope to gain through your participation in the CALS NYS Internship Program?

I am very excited about engaging both my professional community and my local community in learning more about one another. I hope to gain professional relationship building and networking skills.

Describe your community engagement project:

My project is research focused at this point and is intended to address the issue of youth retention and attraction to the grape and wine industry in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Through research and interviews I hope to gain insight from several perspectives, the first of which is the farmers and vintners. These people know best what their current requirements are, do the hiring and supervising of most of their own new employees, and understand the expanding needs of the industry. Secondly, I will be reaching out to the current workforce to find out what put them on their path to this industry, and I’ll be asking them what they see in their own futures (e.g.: Will they be staying?). Thirdly, I will find out what structures are already in place to attract and prepare a young workforce for this industry.

What have been the best parts of (a) your internship and (b) your community engagement experience so far?

I am enjoying working with the people at Dairy One. Everyone here has a true interest in farming, and there is a wealth of knowledge housed in these offices. Many of the people here also have farms, or hobby farms. The Finger Lakes Wine Lab is a small part of a large operation, but is being nurtured, improved and positioned to be the authority in juice and wine testing in the northeast. I am preparing this week to begin visiting growers and wineries. By far my favorite aspect of my community engagement project is visiting with the growers and winemakers.

What features of your host community are you so far most excited about?

I am enjoying all of the beautiful parks, hiking trails, swimming places, and public art.


Kendra EllisCALS NYS Intern Kendra Ellis in the field at Hudson Valley Farm Hub

Research assistant and field hand, Hudson Valley Farm Hub
Host Community: Ulster County

Major: Agricultural Sciences      
Class Year: December 2015

What do you hope to gain through your participation in the CALS NYS Internship Program?

I hope to develop lasting friendships, gain experience communicating well and working in a non-profit, and engage in meaningful research in my community.  I also hope that some of the wisdom and mindfulness of the folks at the Local Economies Project, under which the HV Farm Hub operates, will rub off on me!

Describe your community engagement project:

As a part of the CALS NYS Internship Program’s efforts to understand youth retention and attraction challenges and opportunities, my community engagement project involves working with local partners to better understand existing services designed to support the integration of recent Latino immigrants into the broader community. This ties in with a personal interest in understanding how food, as symbolic of community and culture, can offer opportunities for integration of recent Latino immigrants, especially migrant farmworkers, into the regional community.

What have been the best parts of (a) your internship and (b) your community engagement experience so far?

My favorite part of my internship has been laughing with and learning from the Latino farmworkers at the farm hub. I’ve been able to gain both hard skills, like tractor usage and crop planning, and the delicate skill of working productively while simultaneously having a blast joking with the rest of the crew.

What features of your host community are you so far most excited about?

It excites me that there are so many amazing community organizations working for things like food access, racial justice, and farmworker rights! I feel so fortunate to be connecting with such passionate and sensitive people.


Fiona Woods

CALS NYS Intern Fiona Woods at her Tompkins County desk

Program Assistant, Tompkins County Department of Administration
Host Community: Ithaca, NY

Major: Environmental Engineering
Class Year: 2017

What do you hope to gain through your participation in the CALS NYS Internship Program?

As I’m interested in possibly working for a local government in the future, one of my main goals going into this program was to gain familiarity with the functioning of a local government. I also wanted to have an opportunity to explore my host community, Tompkins County, in more depth than I’ve been able to do during the school year.

Describe your community engagement project:

My project, titled “Living and Working in Ithaca”, is an attempt to build off of existing anchors that students have to the Ithaca area through their universities in order to forge new connections. The main goal of my project is to connect students who may be interested in living and working in Tompkins County after college with young professionals in the area. In this effort, I’m partnering with Tompkins Connect, an organization of young professionals in the County. Many college students are unaware of the numerous professional and social resources that the County and the larger area have to offer, and connecting seniors to these resources may help the area to attract and retain more young people. 

What have been the best parts of (a) your internship and (b) your community engagement experience so far?

The best part of my internship has been working with my host. She is highly competent and I’ve been learning a lot. The Department of Administration in general has been very welcoming. It’s a really friendly and productive work environment and I genuinely look forward to going in every day.

My favorite part of my community engagement project has definitely been learning more about what the area has to offer. To get some background information, I’ve been researching employers and cultural offerings, and I’ve really enjoyed learning about all of them.  Though I had also been learning this throughout the internship preparation course as well, I’m still continuously surprised at the depth and breadth of the social and professional options in the area. It’s been eye-opening to see all of the options -- even almost four weeks into my internship, I continue to find out about new organizations, businesses, and restaurants/social spaces in Ithaca and in the county as a whole.

What features of your host community are you so far most excited about?

The nature/outdoor options have been really exciting so far: I’ve been able to explore a lot of new trails and have found some really beautiful parks and outdoor spaces that I wasn’t aware of before.  I’m training for a marathon in the fall and have also been exploring some new running routes that have been absolutely beautiful. Trying new restaurants has been another highlight of my experience -- I’ve tried a lot of really good coffee!


Alisha Heximer at her 2015 summer internship at STEPS

Alisha Heximer '16 and Theresa Lahr, STEPS Project Coordinator, outside the STEPS office in Ovid, NY. Photo courtesy of Alisha.

Alisha Heximer

Assistant for Community Engagement and Outreach at STEPS (Seneca Towns Engaging People for Solutions)
Host Community: Southern Seneca County (Romulus, Ovid, Covert, and Lodi)

Major: Biological Sciences, minor in Business
Class Year:  2016

What do you hope to gain through your participation in the CALS NYS Internship Program?

The CALS NYS Internship Program provides experience in a professional work environment, something invaluable for a college student soon to head out into the workforce. It is a learning-experience in more ways than one. The structure of the program with its weekly reflections and independent community engagement piece afford the intern a well-rounded and engaging internship. More specifically, I chose STEPS because I wanted to learn about community development, I care about health, and I love working with people. Through this program I am gaining in-depth knowledge on how community is built and visions realized. It is a long process and by no means could ever be done by one person, requiring teamwork, planning, drive, and a fair dash of patience. Moreover, I am gaining invaluable people skills that will be applicable in essentially any career I may pursue.

Describe your community engagement project:

As STEPS’s first CALS NYS Intern, my community engagement project involves interviewing residents throughout the community and using their input and ideas to propose a youth retention and engagement strategy. I have been and will continue to talk to people from all walks of life in the four towns, listening to their perspectives and fitting their feedback together. Learning about Youth Retention and Engagement involves delving into questions such as what aspects of the community might make a person want to move here, perhaps raise a family here, or return to the area after going away for school? What are the challenges this community is currently facing regarding attracting young people and what opportunities are there? Overall the community engagement project is research and development, based entirely on input from community members. Like STEPS itself, my project is resident-driven.

What have been the best parts of (a) your internship and (b) your community engagement experience so far?

Because of the nature of my host program (community development), the best part of the internship and the community engagement piece are the same for me: the people I have met and engaged with. I have met and been introduced to such a wide range of people with varying talents and passions, humor and personality; it’s wonderful. The people who live and work in a place are a large part of what defines that place.

What features of your host community are you so far most excited about?

Thus far I am most excited about how integral the libraries are in the four towns. Each library runs all kinds of programs and workshops, some for kids, some for adults. They are centerpieces in the community, not to mention being filled with wonderful books!


Kevin Kreher is a 2015 CALS NYS Intern
Kevin Kreher '16 on site at his CALS NYS internship in Genesee County, NY. Photo courtesy of Kevin.

Kevin Kreher

NWNY Dairy, Livestock & Field Crops Team Summer Intern at Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Genesee County
Host Community: Genesee County & Batavia, NY

Major: Electrical and Computer Engineering
Class Year:  2016

What do you hope to gain through your participation in the CALS NYS Internship Program?

This summer I hope to expand my understanding of agriculture on a technical level by focusing both on the agronomy (soil and plant health) as well as the engineering aspects (machinery, management, and future innovations).  As I meet with farmers and industry specialists around Western NY I will be given the chance to learn, connect, and make a difference for CCE by the end of my internship.

Describe your community engagement project:

My community engagement project will focus on reaching out to the community to learn more about a potential problem - a lack of people trained in trade skills in the county. I have already started by speaking directly with farmers in the county, which overlaps with the work I am doing for CCE. The outcome of this project will be to identify why people might not know about workforce opportunities for people with trade skills, or if they do know of them, why they are not interested. The outcome will also focus on finding solutions to the problem as it becomes better understood; thus any outcome will emphasize building a long-term capacity for job training and fulfilling economic needs in the community.

What have been the best parts of (a) your internship and (b) your community engagement experience so far?

I have been lucky enough to meet with and talk to more than 40 people already during the first few weeks of my internship. The agricultural community in NYS is a close knit, incredibly friendly group of people so every meeting has been a pleasure. I’ve been able to work on my conversational skills, build self-confidence, and learn about topics that I have an interest in. It has been a win-win so far, and by the end I will be providing CCE with information that will help guide its future outreach and education. The same goes for the community members involved in business and education here in Genesee County, everyone I have met has been excited to teach me about their work and the area, share their ideas, and help me in my work for CCE.

What features of your host community are you so far most excited about?

I’ve found Batavia to be an incredibly unique area where you can experience the beautiful agricultural landscape for part of the day and then visit a bustling, lively city within minutes. It is a pleasure to be somewhere with such an energetic yet comfortable vibe, and I’m excited to continue working here and learning more for the summer.