Community gardens provide a new take on teaching for environmental studies major 

Brendan Ortiz ’23

An environmental studies major at The College of Wooster, Brendan Ortiz ’23 chanced upon an opportunity to intern at Akron Cooperative Farms as an APEX Fellow. The community garden provides innovative opportunities for gardening to individuals of all backgrounds and skill levels. While assisting gardeners on various projects, he also honed his cultivation skills. Ortiz learned about this position through the work of Carlo Moreno, assistant professor of environmental studies, on the erosion of peasant practices in agriculture. The APEX Fellowship proved fruitful for gaining hands-on experience in a thought-provoking research opportunity for Brendan Ortiz.  

 “I learned skills in traditional agriculture and am now much more confident in the internal operations of running a farming cooperative.”  

—Brendan Ortiz ’23  

What were some of the things you did each day?  

“At ACF my goal was to help each of the community gardeners’ prep and maintain their garden beds, becoming familiar with their respective cultures, and methods of farming.”  

Brendan Ortiz ’23Who was your mentor and how did they help you to succeed in this position?  

“My mentors at the farm were Becky Umbach and Douglas Wurtz. These two have helped me drastically in applying for this internship and the entire process of organizing the educational workshop in connection with my research in hydroponics.”  

What are some skills you’ve learned that you see yourself carrying forward in your career?

“I learned skills in traditional agriculture and am now much more confident in the internal operations of running a farming cooperative.”

 Has this internship experience changed your expected career plans or altered the way you look at your field of study?  

“This experience taught me that I have more of a passion for teaching than I had originally thought. I know that I want to have some involvement in providing opportunities for younger students to learn about where their food comes from in an environmentally conscious manner.”  

Posted in Experiential Learning, Give EL, Showcase Stories on August 15, 2022.

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Related Areas of Study

Environmental Studies

Natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities courses combine for those who want to be part of environmental solutions

Major Minor

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