Through a variety of internships, apprenticeships, and fellowships, the Farm has long supported students and young professionals as they explore career paths in education, agriculture, or the environmental fields. In particular, since 2018, we have hired 10 Postgraduate Education Fellows, who stay with us for 6 months to a year to immerse themselves in our education programs and practices (and just about any other experience on the Farm!). Their time here often shapes their future career choices in profound ways.
Sonia Howlett, a 2019 Fellow, reflects back on her experience below.
The five months of this fellowship have flown by. I feel as though I have found a very stable place here and gotten fully into the flow of the structured school programs. It is wonderful to feel familiar with the day-to-day functioning of the farm and to have a firm understanding of how things work and the flow and purposes of school programs. It will definitely be a strange and bittersweet transition out.
Reflecting back on the past year, I have become much more confident as an educator, have learned a lot from those around me, and have been picking up some tips on different tools and techniques to help deliver programs. I am grateful for having had the chance to discuss how to develop a culturally sustaining lens for education around different issues, and it is exciting that the Farm will keep going with this work. I now have a much greater appreciation for the importance of “teacher language” and how much influence just a few words can have over students and their behavior and their relationship with their educators. Words can be so powerful.
Of course, my biggest joy of working here has been working alongside such fantastic, funny, and committed co-workers. The Education team is always so funny and casual and friendly. But they also work so hard to hold our programs to a high standard and to make things happen here and in the surrounding schools, so I find them all to be very inspirational role models. I also love that this place has so many people doing so many different things, all of which comes together to make this place such a complex and dynamic group of people and missions and projects.
Moving forward from this fellowship, my biggest takeaway is a new confidence in and enthusiasm for being an “educator,” someone who is able to interact productively with a variety of audiences. I recognize that this can also be a way of just moving through and interacting with the world, and I am very grateful to have this experience which prepares me to be just a better person interacting with other people in this world.
— Sonia Howlett
Shelburne Farms 2019 Graduate Fellow
Sonia is currently working at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets in Montpelier doing education and outreach to farmers around water quality, as well as assisting with grant administration.