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Summer intern snapshot: Just Roots

Garden fence with the words Urban Garden painted on it
(DePaul University/Jamie Moncrief)

After soaking up spring rains, the summer season often brings crisp vegetables and sun-ripened fruits ready for grilling, salads or enjoying right off the vine. Tiffani Abels, a junior at DePaul, is spending her summer helping to bring these simple, healthy delights to communities across the city as a Steans Center McCormick Intern at Just Roots, a sustainable urban farming group in Chicago. The organization aims to provide the Chicago area with locally grown produce.

"I was drawn specifically to Just Roots because of its community environment and the opportunity for hands-on learning in agriculture work," says Abels, who is majoring in environmental studies. "This summer I am mainly gaining skills in farming, which I hope to apply to other farm, garden and environment-related jobs in the future. They also will help in the creation and maintenance of my own farm and garden someday."

Abels began working with Just Roots for an experiential learning course in the spring and has stayed with Just Roots this summer to continue her work. From trellising tomatoes to plucking beets from the ground, Abels helps the organization harvest, clean and prepare produce for donations via the Community Supported Agriculture Program and to local food pantries, farmers and hospitals.

Funded by an endowment from the McCormick Foundation, the McCormick Internship allows DePaul undergraduate students to apply their knowledge and skills to benefit a community-based organization while simultaneously providing the student with valuable work experience.

Learn about this and other internship opportunities provided by DePaul’s Irwin W. Steans Center on the center’s website.

Emerson Sherbourne is a HumanitiesX student fellow and a graduate student in DePaul's refugee and forced migration studies program.