“I want to spend the summer outdoors.” -Me, to Cooperative Education faculty Beth Bridgeman, circa June 2017. I got my wish.
For my final co-op at Antioch College, I am working as an intern/trainee at Heartbeat Learning Gardens, just outside of Yellow Springs, Ohio. I am a participant in their farm training program, and I also live on the Heartbeat property.
Heartbeat is a non-profit, small scale, sustainable farm working to provide education about sustainable farming and simple living through workshops as well as through the training program of which I am a part, as well as provide vegetables to the Miami Valley community through a seasonal CSA program.
My day to day work is primarily that of a farm hand. Generally, I assist in the processes of preparing and planting beds, weeding, watering, and thinning crops, harvesting food, and clearing land, among other tasks. I also occasionally care for the chickens that are kept on the property. Filling this role, I help to ensure that the gardens are maintained, and that the crops are harvested for community CSA members to pick up twice per week.
My aim for this cooperative learning experience was to experiment in a new workplace and lifestyle. Rather than working at a desk as I have in the past, I am working a different kind of “nine to five” job – one where my limbs, rather than my mind, are tired at the end of the day. I am living in a trailer without plumbing, and eating vegetables that I helped grow and/or harvest. I am learning about my physical abilities – that my body is strong and capable of turning over the earth and healing from the scratches and bites and bruises it inflicts upon me.
This experience also marks a transition in my educational life. I recently made the decision to change my course of study, and with that change I wanted to consider new and different ways of doing other things in my life. I’ve learned so far that farming is hard and tiring, and that I will probably not be a farmer. That being said, exploring new fields of work and new ways of living is a great joy, and has been a formative part of my Antioch experience.
About their co-op, Ramone says,
Ben Zitsman, Class of 2020, is working as a co-op student in the Office of Admissions here at Antioch College. Initially, he took on various administrative and communicative tasks, including sending out some communications for the Office of Admissions. His position, however, has quickly grown into a full scale reboot of the College’s social media platforms. Ben was part of a small team that developed a social media strategy at the start of this quarter, and he has been working with students, staff, and faculty ever since to report on the everyday – and not-so-everyday – happenings that occur on campus. Ben says that over the course of the week, he receives email and in person communications from all over campus regarding events, programs, initiatives, and other things happening around Antioch, and he attends and reports on them through the Antioch College Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
“Really it’s just walking around and trying to figure out what looks interesting.” That’s how Ben describes his daily activity on the job. He spends time talking to anyone he comes across to learn about what they’re doing, and he works to publish material on the diverse activities occurring throughout each day. “Making sure that Antioch is represented faithfully” and “accurately reflect[ing] Antioch to people who are interested in the school” are his primary goals in creating content, he says.
Ben will return to classes following the end of this quarter, but he says he has enjoyed the work and he hopes to continue this work during the rest of his time at Antioch.
Photo Credit: Ben Zitsman ’20