• Experiential Learning
Sustainability Interns Selected

By Helena Chen ‘24/The Lawrence

Lawrenceville’s Experiential Education program offers two summer sustainability internship opportunities for students: the Big Red Farm Internships (overseen by Big Red Farm Manager Ian Macdonald and Director of Sustainability Stephen Laubach) and Restoration Ecology Internships (overseen by Laubach). During the Big Red Farm Internship, students will work on the Farm up to three days per week for eight weeks. They will participate in all kinds of farm activities, including planting, transplanting seedlings, weeding, harvesting, and caring for the animals, Congratulations to the 2022 Big Red Interns Ford Collins ‘23, Slava Iudenko ’23, Elizabeth Parnell ‘23, Christabelle Sutter ’23, Alaina Crichton ‘24, Christopher King ’24, Ian lee ’24, Samuel Xie ’24, and Gavin Yoon ’25.

The Big Red Farm Internship program aims to let students gain an appreciation for the hard work required to get crops from seedlings to harvest, especially amidst the intense heat of the summer months. “At the end of the internship, I hope students can start to look for the labels about how crops or meat were raised and start to be conscious consumers when they go buy food,” Laubach said. “Also, they should be award of the different methods of growing crops and their impacts on the environment.”

Xie applied for this program because it presented a great opportunity to further his involvement in sustainability initiatives. Many Big Red Farm Interns from previous years have recounted their great experiences working on the Farm, which makes him even more excited for this summer. “As a Big Red Farm Intern, I hope to learn about the most effective method of growing crops, while also ensuring that these methods are best for the environment,” Xie said. In addition, he is also looking forward to collaborating with the other Big Red Farm Interns. Xie hopes that he can quickly learn to adapt to the Farm environment and grasp his different responsibilities as a farmer.

For the Restoration Ecology Internship, students are expected to restore, over a period of six days in July, ecosystems of certain undeveloped parts of the Lawrenceville campus. The 2022 Restoration Ecology Interns are Christabelle Sutter ’23, Alayna Ting ’24, Alec Wang ’24, and Jasmine Zhang ’23.

The Lawrenceville School owns 640 acres of land, but the core campus is only 30 of those acres. 250 acres are farms, with some of them being part of the Big Red Farm. Several of those acres also contain undeveloped forests, meadows, and wetlands. The Restoration Ecology Internship aims to enhance those areas for wildlife habitats. “We have a four-acre patch of woods in the old Ropes Course area that’s past the cross country course cornfield, and that is a beautiful, old growth forest, but it has a lot of invasive species coming in the understory below the big canopy of trees,” Laubach said. One of the jobs of the Restoration Ecology Interns is to remove some of the invasive species to create a healthy habitat for the native trees and shrubs to come in. Besides in-person experiences, students will also learn about restoration ecology and the relationship between the native and invasive species from ecologists who work for the Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space.

This summer, Sutter will be a member of the Restoration Ecology program. She was a Big Red Farm Intern last year, so her experience working on the Farm ultimately led her to want to apply to this program. During Sutter’s time as a Big Red Farm Intern, her favorite part was making the connections with others as they worked towards a shared goal on the Farm. “I had the most interesting conversations about the most random things ever, and we had a lot of humor. I had a really positive experience from that time,” Sutter said. She wanted to apply for the Restoration Ecology Internship as a way to be a little more involved with Lawrenceville’s natural habitat and she hopes to learn more about native plants and animal species. “Since I have come not to mind the heat recently, I’m looking forward to being out in nature in these early mornings with other people and learning from the Hopewell Valley ecologists,” Sutter said.

For additional information, contact Lisa M. Gillard H'17, director of public relations, at lgillard@lawrenceville.org.