Introducing Our 2019 Interns

From left to right: Marianna Zavala, Yuuka McPherson, Jose Martinez, Megan Belognia, and Andrea Hatsukami

By: Kevin Alexander Watt

Ever since we launched the TomKat Summer Internship Program in 2014, it has been a treat and privilege to help the ranch team choose the best candidates for the upcoming summer. Each year we receive stacks of applications from a diverse field of candidates. The process of reviewing applications and interviewing candidates is a powerful reminder of how many people are eager to work, learn, teach, and contribute what they can to help grow a regenerative food system.

This year we are hosting five amazing interns and each brings a unique perspective, skillset, and connection to the food system to inform and energize our team and work this summer. Below are short introductions and biographies that each intern prepared for this newsletter.

“If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that good food is the be-all and end-all. It’s how I make friends, spend my free time, and, most importantly, keep the peace with my sister and parents. After graduating from the University of Washington, I worked with indigenous students to create a Native Food Forest. Along the way, I learned that food is not only sustenance but also medicine, culture, and history. It has the power to preserve our roots, regardless of whether or not we still speak the language or follow old beliefs. From the increasing socioeconomic gap to freshwater shortages and soil nutrient depletion, food accessibility has no clear single solution. At TomKat Ranch, the most important skill I hope to leave with is thinking and problem-solving holistically–all social and environmental issues are dynamic and complex; in order to create a world where we can all enjoy access to good food, I must be able to address them with versatile solutions.”

“Since I was little I have loved being on farms and working with livestock. After graduating as a Geosciences major from Williams College, I am excited to finally be able to fully pursue my passion for agriculture. I am particularly interested in how livestock can play a key role in preserving traditions, nurturing ecological health, and promoting economic and social sustainability in rural communities. At TomKat Ranch, I hope to become more competent in livestock husbandry as well as to learn more about the nuances of regenerative ranching.”

“Born and raised in Omaha, NE, with my twin brother, I am a newcomer to the agricultural community. I am passionate about working toward ecologically, socially, and economically responsible solutions to the challenges of our global food system. I am interested in exploring alternative food systems with attention to economics, traditional ecological knowledge and indigenous communities and traditional food accessibility, and agroecology. Where ever my future career leads me, I hope to grow and raise my own food and model regenerative agriculture whether professionally or for personal enjoyment. I am currently an undergraduate studying Earth Systems with a concentration in Sustainable Food and Agriculture at Stanford University.”

“I was born and raised in Mexico. I grew up helping my dad with his small farm in Acambara, Guanajuato caring for 60 hectares of grain crops and about 30 cows. I came to California when I was 18 years old and enrolled in a community college then I transferred to UC Davis to study Plant Science. I just graduated a few weeks ago and I came to TomKat Ranch because of my interest in learning and bringing back regenerative ranching practices to my family’s farm.”

“My journey as a young agrarian has led me from Bay Area farmers markets all the way to cattle ranches on the Colorado prairie and back. I have had the opportunity to work as a storyteller, an educator, and a regenerative rancher (in-training), which are skills that I am excited to develop and share. I am also passionate about cultivating my skills as a facilitator and mentor so that I can support others who are in pursuit of a more regenerative future. I firmly believe that in order to inspire and train the next generation of land stewards, we must provide the space and opportunity for them to learn, be willing to open doors, and elevate the voices of those around us.”