Organic vegetable variety trials, nutrition education, and community outreach

College of Agricultural Sciences

Agriculture Experiment Station



Primary Topic:

Food and Agriculture

Other Topics:

Economic and Community Development, Health and Well-Being

Lead Mentor:  

Brad Tonnessen

Research Scientist

Internship Overview:

This summer internship will be located at the Organic Agriculture Research Station at Rogers Mesa (OARS-RM) in Hotchkiss, Colorado. At OARS-RM, we are performing replicated vegetable variety trials using seed sourced from local companies and crop types recommended by local growers. Typically, variety trials are limited in scope by using the most popular cultivars nationwide, often ignoring varieties produced by small, regional seed companies. The student will learn skills in field experimental design as well as many facets of organic vegetable farming including irrigation management, maintaining soil health, crop rotation, harvest and planting timing, and seed production. Additionally, farmers and seed producers need information from the public on varieties in terms of taste, aesthetics, texture, cooking, and desire to purchase. We are partnered with The Learning Council of Paonia and CSU’s Community Alliance for Education and Hunger Relief Program, both education, nutrition, and food advocacy programs. The intern will be working with these groups to distribute our produce to food insecure populations, while also requesting surveys from them about variety preference. This internship also involves planning and participating in community events such as field days at the research station and tasting panels at local farmers markets. They will also be attending educational workshops provided by extension and research personnel. The student will visit participant farmers and seed producers, gaining experience in different agricultural business endeavors. Overall, this internship will provide professional development for a career in agricultural research, extension education, and pursuits in agricultural business.

Goals, Scope and Objectives:

This internship will develop the student’s skills in horticulture, experimental design, and community outreach. Overall, the student will achieve these three objectives:
1. Obtain proficiency in vegetable cultivation, planting, and harvest for the summer months. Will be able to write up harvest protocol and data collection strategies for summer vegetable crops planted for the project.
2. Able to understand a randomized complete block field design, and achieve the ability to carry out vegetable variety trials and understand genetic variability
3. Familiarized with extension and outreach activities, including working with non-profit organizations to educate people on nutrition and gardening.

With which stakeholder group(s) will the intern work?

Regional Seed Companies, Local non-profit organizations, Regional vegetable farmers

What student learning outcomes do you anticipate and what are the opportunities for professional development?

We anticipate intellectual skills to be a learning outcome from this project. Data collection, experimental design, and allocation of the harvest to non-profit organizations are all contributing to that outcome. The intern will also gain critical thinking through the observation of crops, identifying disease issues, and pinpointing timing of harvest. They will also learn to communicate effectively, since they will be directly involved in outreach events pertaining to the project, and will work together with station personnel to get tasks completed. In regards to professional development, the intern will gain proficiency in research-based farming, allowing them to carry that skill into academic realms of agriculture. Additionally, the intern will be assigned duties, and be required to report on said duties as well as future plans to the mentor weekly. This will contribute to there ability to take on more responsibility in future career paths.
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