Tyson Foods 2018 Summer Community Internship Program, A Happy Ending

August 14, 2018

On Friday, Illinois Campus Compact gathered our Tyson Foods Summer Community Interns and their supervisors to recap on their summers and all the work they accomplished.  Throughout the summer we asked the interns to share information and photos about their days working at community organizations across Chicago. These photos showcased events, programming, and capacity building activities that the interns participated in. From these posts we learned a lot about what their days looked like, whether it was working closely with community members or creating databases to help a program run smoother.

Check out the hashtags #TysonFoodsGrant and #TysonCommunities on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, to see all the posts and photos they shared.

At the closing event each of the interns explained their main duties and told us a little bit about what they learned from their site.

Andrea Simms spent the summer at BEDS Plus where she coordinated donations from organizations. These donations made it so BEDS Plus clients could have access to fresh, beautiful produce, like the broccoli she models below.

Laura Christenson worked at Saint Leonards Ministries where she worked closely with previously incarcerated individuals. Laura was excited to share the amazing impact Saint Leonards has had, and all that she has learned from both the organization and the people that they work with. The state of Illinois has a recidivism rate of 50% for men and 35% for women. Saint Leonards Ministries reduces these rates to 16% for men and 5% for women by offering their clients education opportunities, residential facilities, and employment readiness training. During the summer Laura interviewed the men and women at Saint Leonards so that these hopeful and significant stories can be shared throughout the community.

Laura was not the only intern whose work was emotional as well as rewarding. Jonathon Hull worked at World Relief Chicago, where his role as an intern was to develop adult education and employment resources for recently arrived refugees. Throughout the summer Jonathan assisted clients by providing transportation. He drove immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers to job opportunities. At our closing event Jonathan spoke to us about meeting arriving families at the airport. He told us how they arrived with only the bags in their hands, but dreaming of a new life here. Because of his Tyson Foods internship, Jonathan learned how important World Relief Chicago is to the immigrant community. It offers them a group of people who are invested in them and support them as they begin their lives here.

At The Talking Farm, Tess Mcdermott experienced all the tasks associated with the daily operations of a diversified productions vegetable farm. Tess explained that not only did she learn how the farm worked, she learned how little people know about where their food comes from. Tess was able to work with kids and show them how their food got to their table.

Hannah Jenkins focus was also food production, as she worked at Northern Illinois University’s CommUniversity Gardens. Here, she hosted events with volunteers and even taught them about edible weeds. Anabel Watson worked at Global Garden Refugee Training Farm. This is where she led volunteers and refugee farmers in planting and managing crops, and site cleanup. 

Jake Jaskowiak worked at Seven Generations Ahead, an organization with a similar goal of ecologically sustainability and healthy communities. He helped achieve this goal by further expanding the knowledge and infrastructure of SGA’s Wasted Food Solution and Zero Waste Schools Programs. Erynn Nicholson did similar outreach work at the Garfield Park Community Council. She assisted with events such as community markets, where she made the community aware of the plethora of programs the council provides.

Our interns were committed to their work in a number of different ways. Natalie Sanchez attended a protest with the Erie Neighborhood House. She shared in a post, “Erie Neighborhood House is an organization that not only helps connect its clients to resources but also advocates with them on issues hurting the community. On June 30th, I participated in an awesome demonstration with other Erie House members that protested the unjust treatment of undocumented immigrants both at the border and throughout the U.S. What I’ve learned through my Tyson Foods Summer Community Internship is that helping the community with its needs is important, but advocating for change so that these needs are no longer an issue is just as vital.”

The intern supervisors were also adamant about sharing some of their experiences with their Tyson Foods Interns. Many of the interns were in charge of projects that otherwise the supervisor or site wouldn’t be able to accomplish because of lack of time or people power.

Edward Vere, a Tyson Foods intern at the Northern Illinois Food Bank was an example of this. Edward developed a database so that the food bank could better track their contracts. His supervisor said that this project was something she had been dreaming to complete for a year, and without Edward she was unsure if they would have ever gotten around to it.

Edward was also satisfied with his internship, stating that the Northern Illinois Food Bank really took care of him during his internship. They treated him as a member of the team and trusted him with important work. Both Edward and his supervisor said their work together will not end with this internship, as he plans to continue to volunteer at the food bank during breaks at Wheaton, where he goes to college.  

Northside Community Resources was another organization that sung the praise of their intern, Samantha Weil. During the summer Samantha developed a new civic education curriculum that will be taught to new citizens. Her supervisor said that Samantha piloted the entire project, from start to finish, and was amazed with the outcome. Samantha said, “Seeing the curriculum come to life allowed me to see its strengths and weaknesses so that I can improve it going forward.”

At the closing event, a pattern we noticed was the trust the supervisors and organizations put in their interns. At the South Asian American Research Policy Institute, Tanvi Singh played a key role in conducting research, managing databases, assisting with the development of the web platform, community outreach, and marketing of SAARPI’s Digital Public Square Project.

Jamie Suh at Hanul Family Alliance did similar work by creating a new database that will better suit the organizations clients.

Ravion Clay interned at Illinois Hunger Coalition. They created community-specific flyers with Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) site information, answered SFSP Hunger Hotline calls to connect families and children to SFSP sites close to them, created the monthly SFSP newsletters, and connected potential new sites to sponsors. They also assisted with data collection and promoted the SFSP through the IHC social media accounts.

Many of the internships were focused on outreach and helping the community understand what the organization offers. Paige Dean interned at the Center for Economic Progress where she did outreach at volunteer fairs and events. She also developed recruitment strategies and volunteer coordination.

April Poggio helped Common Threads find new sources of funding through grant research. Jayla James interned at Gads Hill Center where her main responsibility was to help bolster recruitment for the Healthy Moves program. She did this by showcasing some awesome events like Playstreet, and doing outreach within the community.

Not only did the community organizations profit from receiving help from their Tyson Foods Intern, but many of the interns learned a lot from their organization. Katherine Torres who interned at Alliance for Immigrant Neighbors,is a rising junior at National Louis University, pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with minors in Psychology of Human Development and Bilingual & ESL Education. She wanted to learn how she can give back to her community, and how her future career could align with her passion for the immigrant community.

ILCC is incredible grateful to Tyson Foods for sponsoring this internship program. We also recognize that this summer would not have been successful without the hard work of our interns and supervisors. These organizations work everyday to make for a better Chicagoland – so be sure to support and share the work they’re doing.