News and Events https://www.randolphcollege.edu/news Thu, 01 Apr 2021 19:11:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.3 Making it count: Randolph math professor finds success on YouTube https://www.randolphcollege.edu/news/2021/04/randolph-math-professor-finds-success-on-youtube/ Thu, 01 Apr 2021 18:33:36 +0000 https://www.randolphcollege.edu/news/?p=18584 At the beginning of 2020, he had 1,000 subscribers, which grew to 50,000 by the end of that summer and continues to climb. At the end of March, he had more than 135,000 subscribers and was averaging 1.5 million views a month.

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Randolph math professor Michael Penn throws in one of his signature backflips while recording a video for his popular YouTube channel.

Michael Penn has created something of a cocoon in his basement. Moving blankets hang on the walls and a piece of foam is attached to the ceiling, creating a makeshift studio where the Randolph math professor can record content for his popular YouTube channel.

Randolph math professor Michael Penn records a video for his popular YouTube channel.

Well before COVID-19 forced many college courses online, Penn was using a hybrid approach to teaching.

His mathematics popularization project began in 2019 when he decided to flip his courses, an approach based on the idea that lectures or direct instruction aren’t the best use of class time. For Penn, that involved filming lecture videos students would watch before class, so the majority of their time together could be spent on actual problem solving.

“I’d put students in groups and they would do math problems on the chalkboard together, which makes class really dynamic and active,” he said. “It also gives me an immediate assessment of how they’re doing. I can stand in the middle of the room, look around, and go help when I need to.”

He eventually uploaded the lectures to YouTube and saw his audience numbers and views take off as he connected with other popular math channels on the platform.

At the beginning of 2020, he had 1,000 subscribers, which grew to 50,000 by the end of that summer and continues to climb. At the end of March, he had more than 135,000 subscribers and was averaging 1.5 million views a month.

He still posts lectures for his classes each semester and plans to update some of his earlier ones, now that his production quality has improved.

He also makes what he refers to as popular videos, tackling competition math problems.

“When it was going really fast, I would post one video for a class per day and then one popular video per day,” Penn said. “Now I post like two videos per class per week, and maybe five popular videos. I found this niche where I take competition problems from other countries, and I make videos about them. I think that’s really made my audience global. People love the math contest problems.”

He also credits the pandemic with contributing to his channel growth.

“Everyone was at home,” Penn said. “I’ve had people comment, telling me my videos got them through a class when we went online. Other people, when they’re bored at home, want to just learn some new stuff. Some are former teachers or have subscribed because they’re nostalgic about their time in college.”

Most of his videos—nearly 1,000 so far—feature Penn in front of a chalkboard, writing out equations.

Occasionally, he’ll venture outside the box, throwing in a few of his signature backflips (Penn was a diver in college).

In early January, he recorded himself completing a rock climbing test, named for a Norwegian climber, that was the subject of a series of viral videos at the time. He followed it up with a problem from the 2021 Norwegian Math Olympiad.

In February, he completed a series of number puzzles in a video called Mathematical proof that 2020 is the worst.

Penn has also teamed up with other professors—members of what he calls “a whole math YouTube crew”—to create back-and-forth videos.

His recording and editing skills have grown alongside his audience. Penn typically films three videos in a weekend, giving himself audio cues of where to make cuts to shorten the editing process.

“I’m a big fan of making it as efficient as possible, so I cut out all of the erasing of the chalkboard,” he said. “I’ll do these things where if a problem has several steps, I’ll outline the steps to the right of the screen in boxes, and make it look like I’m clicking a box.”

The chalkboard may seem retro, but it actually adds to the appeal.

“Even in the 21st century, I bet 90 percent of mathematicians would prefer to see someone give a talk using a chalkboard rather than slides,” Penn said, “just because of the creation part of math.”

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American Culture students presenting Reproductive Justice Symposium in April https://www.randolphcollege.edu/news/2021/03/american-culture-students-presenting-reproductive-justice-symposium-in-april/ Mon, 29 Mar 2021 16:14:45 +0000 https://www.randolphcollege.edu/news/?p=18529 Created by women of color and indigenous women in the 1990s, the reproductive justice movement draws attention to unlawful controls placed on minority women’s bodies and how they experience reproductive health discrimination differently than white women.

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Author Dorothy Roberts, who is the symposium’s keynote speaker.

Chantel Spinner ’22 has long been interested in the reproductive justice movement without even realizing it.

“I didn’t know the term,” she said. “When I learned what the foundation of the movement was, I realized how in tune I was with those things. I just didn’t know they were under this large umbrella.”

Created by women of color and indigenous women in the 1990s, the reproductive justice movement draws attention to unlawful controls placed on minority women’s bodies and how they experience reproductive health discrimination differently than white women.

Spinner and her classmates have been studying the topic this semester as part of the College’s American Culture Program, which is focusing on the history of reproductive justice and the politics of eugenics over the next two years.

Because of the pandemic, the traditional program was replaced by a practicum taught by Ainsworth Visiting Professor of American Culture Justina Licata.

Next month, Licata and her students will host a virtual Reproductive Justice Symposium. Set for April 7 and 8, it will include a talk by keynote speaker Dorothy Roberts, author of Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty; a screening of Belly of the Beast, a 2020 documentary looking at illegal sterilizations in women’s prisons; and a series of student-led panels (see the full schedule below).

They’ve been reading Roberts’s book and brainstorming ideas for the symposium since the semester began.

“We really hit the ground running,” said Jacqueline Clardy-Josephs ’23. “The book is giving context to what we’re doing and strengthening the panels.”

For Spinner, majoring in sociology, the course has been life-changing.

“Dorothy Roberts is so good at explaining how we can take things happening today and link them to the past,” she said. “She gives you the words to say, ‘Here is an example of how reproductive justice was needed and is needed now.’”

Tomi McGinnis ’23, who is majoring in history and museum and heritage studies, has found connections between the practicum topics and an internship she’s doing with John d’Entremont, Randolph’s Theodore H. Jack Professor of History.

Their work introduced her to the concept of paper genocide, the systematic destruction of Native American Indian culture, language, and identity by reclassifying people into non-Native racial groups on government records.

It’s a topic McGinnis will now lead a panel about during the symposium.

“It’s been incredible to have all these things weaving together,” McGinnis said. “This is how activism happens. This is how you really learn and get these hands-on experiences. I can’t imagine this opportunity being available to me at another school.”

Reproductive Justice Symposium

Wednesday, April 7

2-3:15 p.m.: Student panel featuring Chantel Spinner ’22, Jacqueline Clardy-Josephs ’23, Tomi McGinnis ’23, and Andi Curtis ’23 presenting their own research
4-5:15 p.m.: Birth Work/Birthing Justice Panel, led by Clardy-Josephs
6:30-8:30 p.m.: Belly of the Beast screening, with a post-film discussion at 7:50 p.m.

Thursday, April 8
1-2:15 p.m.: Paper Genocide Panel, led by McGinnis
4:30-5:45: Abortion Access Panel, led by Spinner
7-8 p.m.: Keynote address by Dorothy Roberts

To register, visit https://rcamericancultureprogram.wordpress.com.

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Historic markers dedicated in memory of alumnae https://www.randolphcollege.edu/news/2021/03/historic-markers-dedicated-in-memory-of-randolph-alumnae/ Fri, 26 Mar 2021 21:37:07 +0000 https://www.randolphcollege.edu/news/?p=18552 World renowned dancer Helen McGehee ’42 and her grandmother, painter Sallie Lee Mahood, Class of 1897, were recognized Friday during a dedication ceremony for historical markers erected in their names.

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The historic marker for Sallie Lee Mahood, Class of 1897, is unveiled Friday.

World renowned dancer Helen McGehee ’42 and her grandmother, painter Sallie Lee Mahood, Class of 1897, were recognized Friday during a dedication ceremony for historical markers erected in their names.

McGehee, who died in 2020, was known for her work as a dancer, choreographer, and teacher. It was at the College, then Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, where she first discovered modern dance, studying with Eleanor Struppa.

She studied Greek and Latin at the College, which would later inform her work originating iconic roles and designing costumes with the famed Martha Graham Dance Company. She was a leading performer with the company from the 1940s to the 1970s.

Betty Harris , left, and Randolph dance professor Pam Risenhoover with the historic marker honoring Helen McGehee ’42, their former teacher.

McGehee later started her own company and co-founded the dance division at the Juilliard School, where she taught for more than 30 years.

Randolph dance professor Pam Risenhoover first met and studied with McGehee at Juilliard, leading to a long friendship. She remembered McGehee as “notably and memorably feisty.”

“Helen was a force to be reckoned with, and I am grateful to have come into frequent contact with that force, even if there were times when it was less than fun,” Risenhoover said. “Helen was in possession of this remarkable vibrancy and creativity, and she was until the end of her life. She was a dancer, a symbol, as Graham once said, ‘of the performance of living.’”

McGehee founded the College’s Visiting Artists Program in Dance in 1971 and, later in the decade, moved back to Lynchburg with her husband, Colombian-American artist Rafael Alfonso Umaña Mendez.

The historic markers unveiled today are in front of their former home at 2907 Rivermont Avenue.

Betty Harris, another former student, remembered McGehee and Umaña hosting dinners there and how they encouraged her in her own creative pursuits over the years.

“Helen’s tremendous influence as an artist and an intellectual cannot be overstated,” Harris said, noting that the marker now stands as a constant reminder of her legacy and “indomitable creative spirit.”

That spirit was undoubtedly influenced by her upbringing surrounded in the arts.

Mahood, who moved to Lynchburg as a young adult, painted primarily landscapes and portraits. A co-founder of the Lynchburg Art Club, she studied with artists in Martha’s Vineyard, New York, and Paris, and was often commissioned to paint portraits of famous Virginians. Her work is in the collections of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Virginia Museum of History and Culture, and the Supreme Court of Virginia.

She also taught at E.C. Glass High School and started its art collection, which spans 119 years and includes work by well-known artists like Queen Stovall, in addition to Umaña and Mahood herself.

The markers recognize four generations of women in their family. Mahood’s mother, Julia Morrison Blount, and her daughter, Helen Mahood McGehee, Class of 1914, were also artists and are named on the marker.

Kathy Kinsey, a family member who spoke during the ceremony, said she hopes it encourages a new generation of artists

“Maybe another girl will be inspired to stretch a little further,” she said, “and reach for her own amazing legacy.”

 

 

 

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Randolph College holding virtual Women’s History Month event https://www.randolphcollege.edu/news/2021/03/randolph-college-holding-virtual-womens-history-month-event/ Fri, 26 Mar 2021 13:25:24 +0000 https://www.randolphcollege.edu/news/?p=18542 Felicia Stewart, a professor of communication studies and chair of the Division of Social and Cultural Studies at Morehouse College, will close the event with a virtual lecture, “The Shared Strength of Mothers,” reflecting on women whose sons have been victims of police violence.

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Randolph College is celebrating Women’s History Month next week with several events presented by the Offices of Identity, Culture, and Inclusion, Alumnae and Alumni Relations, and Residence Life.

On Monday, March 29, and Tuesday, March 30, students, faculty, and staff are invited to Main Hall Lobby between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to write notes to women in the Randolph community they know and admire.

A virtual Women’s History Month Panel will follow at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Felicia Stewart, a professor of communication studies and chair of the Division of Social Sciences and Cultural Studies at Morehouse College, will close the event with a virtual lecture, “The Shared Strength of Mothers,” reflecting on women whose sons have been victims of police violence.

The virtual event can be accessed at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89384343036.

For more information, email Randolph’s Chief Diversity Officer Keesha Burke-Henderson at kburke@randolphcollege.edu.

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Randolph statement on violence against Asians and Asian Americans https://www.randolphcollege.edu/news/2021/03/randolphs-statement-on-violence-against-asians-and-asian-americans/ Tue, 23 Mar 2021 14:06:38 +0000 https://www.randolphcollege.edu/news/?p=18521 We must continue to embrace that history and support the Asian and Asian American members of our College family and beyond as we stand together against all acts of race hatred, discrimination, and violence.

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Dear members of the Randolph community,

During the last year, we have experienced a difficult and deadly pandemic. Over 500,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, and our community was forced to live and learn remotely during much of 2020 before returning this spring to a limited opening of our beautiful campus.

But now, just as we begin to look forward to a successful program of vaccination and the hope of a return to more normal lives together, the ugly reality of hatred, discrimination, and race violence has once again come to the fore in American society. The mass murders last week in Atlanta are but one horrific example of the painful mistreatment of Asians and Asian Americans that has been escalating across the country during the last year.

As an institution dedicated to liberal education, our purpose is to train people for free lives. We provide the tools of freedom, and we provide them to everyone. Our shared commitment to freedom means that we stand together against race hatred, against racial violence, and against all claims to racial supremacy.

Our most famous alumna, Pearl S. Buck, won the Nobel Prize for her novels showing the full humanity of the Chinese people. Thus, for much of our history, our College has been associated with dismantling stereotypes of Asians and Asian Americans. We must continue to embrace that history and support the Asian and Asian American members of our College family and beyond as we stand together against all acts of race hatred, discrimination, and violence.

Brad Bateman

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History professor Selda Altan publishes work, presents at conference https://www.randolphcollege.edu/news/2021/03/history-professor-selda-altan-publishes-work-presents-at-conference/ Tue, 23 Mar 2021 12:15:23 +0000 https://www.randolphcollege.edu/news/?p=18524 History professor Selda Altan presented “A French Muslim in Qing China: Gervais Courtellemont’s Travels in Yunnan and Chinese Muslims in French Colonial Policy-Making, 1900–1911” virtually during the Biennial Conference of the Historical Society of Twentieth-Century China over the summer. She wrote more about the topic for the Turkish history journal Toplumsal Tarih. Her article, “Yirminci

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Selda Altan

History professor Selda Altan

History professor Selda Altan presented “A French Muslim in Qing China: Gervais Courtellemont’s Travels in Yunnan and Chinese Muslims in French Colonial Policy-Making, 1900–1911” virtually during the Biennial Conference of the Historical Society of Twentieth-Century China over the summer.

She wrote more about the topic for the Turkish history journal Toplumsal Tarih. Her article, “Yirminci Yüzyıl Başında Çin’de Fransız Sömürgeciliği, Çin Müslümanları ve Osmanlılar [French Colonialism, Muslims, and Ottomans in Early-Twentieth-Century China],” appeared in the November issue.

More information can be found at https://www.tarihvakfi.org.tr/dergiler/toplumsal-tarih/323/toplumsal-tarih-kasim-2020/389.

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A message from President Bateman about the 2021-22 academic year https://www.randolphcollege.edu/news/2021/03/a-message-from-president-bateman-about-the-2021-22-academic-year/ Mon, 22 Mar 2021 16:13:17 +0000 https://www.randolphcollege.edu/news/?p=18510 March 22, 2021 - A message from President Bateman about the 2021-22 academic year

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The following message was sent from President Bateman to the Randolph community on March 22: 

Thanks to promising progress with the COVID-19 vaccines as well as the efforts of our own community to safely follow guidelines this spring, I am pleased to provide an update regarding our planning for the fall 2021 academic year. The COVID-19 Task Force decided this week to plan for an in-person 2021-22 academic year. As long as circumstances related to the pandemic continue to improve, we will be able to provide in-person classes and have all students (except those who are approved to live off campus as commuters, etc.) live in residence.

We most likely will still need to adhere to certain guidelines, such as distancing and mask requirements, but we believe these measures are worth being able to be together on campus again. Details about next semester will be provided at a later date, but we wanted to share this positive news as soon as we were able.

Our entire community has worked hard this semester to ensure that we can safely remain open, and that effort has so far paid off with our very low COVID-19 numbers. I must applaud our students, especially, who have followed strict regulations and done everything possible to limit the spread of the virus on our campus. I hear compliments daily about our students and the model they are setting for others by wearing masks, adhering to physical distancing rules, showing up for testing, etc. Please do not let your guards down, however. The virus is still present and precautions are still needed. I also encourage everyone to get your COVID-19 vaccine when possible. It is vital that we all continue our efforts to keep our Randolph community safe and healthy.

I look forward to seeing everyone back on campus together in the fall!

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Virtual Science Festival to feature ‘Physics of Superheroes’ author https://www.randolphcollege.edu/news/2021/03/virtual-science-festival-to-feature-physics-of-superheroes-author/ Tue, 16 Mar 2021 18:51:14 +0000 https://www.randolphcollege.edu/news/?p=18488 During “The Uncanny Physics of Superhero Comic Books,” James Kakalios will discuss how the stories can be used to illustrate fundamental principles of physics

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James Kakalios is the 2020 Science Festival keynote speaker.

James Kakalios is the 2021 Science Festival keynote speaker.

Randolph College’s 2021 Science Festival kicks off next week with a series of virtual events.

Author James Kakalios, originally scheduled to appear at SciFest in 2020, will give the keynote address at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 25.

During “The Uncanny Physics of Superhero Comic Books,” he’ll discuss how the stories can be used to illustrate fundamental principles of physics—like how Spider-Man clings to walls or why the Flash becomes heavier as he tries to run at the speed of light.

Kakalios first developed an interest in these types of questions in 2001 while creating a freshman seminar class at the University of Minnesota, where he’s a physics professor. The course covered topics ranging from Isaac Newton to the transistor, but all of his examples came from superhero tales.

The class eventually led to the release of his book, The Physics of Superheroes, in 2005, followed a few years later by the Spectacular Second Edition. He also served as a science consultant on the superhero films Watchmen (2009) and The Amazing Spider-Man (2012).

SciFest continues throughout the weekend of March 25, with its regular schedule of events, as well as a few new additions. Some highlights include:

  • An artist talk from Erika Blumenfeld, whose work is included in the Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College’s latest exhibition, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 24. She will discuss her transdisciplinary work, including Astromaterials 3D, a virtual library for exploration and research of NASA’s space rock collections, and Encyclopedia of Trajectories, which documents meteor activity in painterly, gestural form.
  • Lunch & Learn with Blair Gross, Randolph psychology professor, from 12:30 to 1:15 p.m. Thursday, March 25. Gross will share her research looking at how social environments shape basic cognitive processes, like how distances look farther and hills steeper when we are physically exhausted.
  • Women in Science Panel from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Friday, March 26, featuring Debra Daugherty ’85, a health communication specialist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Michaela Phillips ’17 ’19 M.A.T., a science teacher with Culpeper County Public Schools; and Laura Taylor ’13, an environmental engineer postdoc at the United States Environmental Protection Agency. http://randolphscience.org/wis-biographies
  • The SciFest Poetry Jam Reading and Awards Ceremony, which highlights the work of local K-12 students, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 26. http://randolphscience.org/scifest-poetry-jam
  • A Scientist Goes to the Movies: Black Panther, with math professor Marc Ordower once again providing commentary, at 8 p.m. Friday, March 26.
  • Science Day for Little Scientists and Science Day for 3rd-6th Graders on Saturday, March 27.  http://randolphscience.org/scifest-science-day-for-3rd-6th-graders
  • The Maker Faire of Lynchburg on Sunday, March 28
  • A Science + Art Saturdays Reception, recognizing our 2019 scholars, from 2 to 2:30 p.m. Sunday, March 28. www.randolphcollege.edu/admission/visit/science-art-saturdays

The full schedule, with registration information and links to individual sessions, can be found at http://randolphscience.org/scifest.

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Randolph computing programs receive grant to increase gender diversity https://www.randolphcollege.edu/news/2021/03/randolph-computing-programs-receive-grant-to-increase-diversity/ Thu, 11 Mar 2021 16:30:38 +0000 https://www.randolphcollege.edu/news/?p=18483 Randolph College’s computing programs have received a boost from the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT).

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Randolph students take a computer science class in this 2019 file photo.

Randolph College’s computing programs have received a boost from the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT).

The College has received a $10,000 gift fund and membership in NCWIT’s Learning Circle Project, which assists academic computing departments in developing and implementing initiatives to increase gender diversity in undergraduate programs.

Each participating college or university was charged with creating a committee to pursue a set of recruitment and retention initiatives the grant money will now support.

“This is just a start to our work with NCWIT, which hosts a lot of amazing opportunities for institutions like ours,” said mathematics professor Jia Wan. “It’s for whoever wants to improve their diversity balance, and whoever cares about their female students and their minority students. That’s exactly us. We look forward to more opportunities to work in-depth with NCWIT in the future.”

Randolph’s committee for Academic Support of Diversity in Computing Programs (ASDCP) was formed in 2019. Members include Wan; Peter Sheldon, Randolph’s Charles A. Dana Professor of Physics & Engineering; Peggy Schimmoeller, the Charles A. Dana Professor of Education; Marc Ordower, mathematics professor; Katrin Schenk, physics professor; and Kim Sheldon, director of student success.

“Randolph has a computer science and mathematics major, as well as a computer science minor and a data science minor. In 2019, these were brand new programs, so we wanted to start things off right by networking and connecting with resources,” Wan said.

Throughout 2020, NCWIT held monthly virtual meetings members could attend, with topics ranging from recruiting students to teaching resources to collaborative research platforms.

Members of Randolph’s committee met amongst themselves as well, eventually producing a strategic plan with two major goals: To develop a teacher licensure program for computer science and organize a computer programming competition for high school students, to be held on campus next fall.

The competition would offer participants the opportunity to both show off their programming skills and learn some new ones, while giving the College the chance to recruit more students into the program.

“This is an opportunity to help female students step into computing programs and beyond, including the sciences,” Wan said. “We have an outstanding history of encouraging female students to chase after their dreams. I think this is our advantage. I’m sure we can be successful.”

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Randolph student pursues passion for sustainability at Lynchburg Grows https://www.randolphcollege.edu/news/2021/03/randolph-student-pursues-passion-for-sustainability-at-lynchburg-grows/ Fri, 05 Mar 2021 19:24:59 +0000 https://www.randolphcollege.edu/news/?p=18462 As a general farm intern this spring, Brooklyn Ford '22 is involved in all aspects of the nonprofit urban farm’s daily operations, from planting to harvesting to composting.

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Brooklyn Ford ’22 is interning at Lynchburg Grows this semester.                                                                           

On a recent Wednesday, Brooklyn Ford ’22 was hard at work on the farm at Lynchburg Grows—in and out of greenhouses, wheelbarrow in tow.

As a general farm intern this spring, Ford is involved in all aspects of the nonprofit urban farm’s daily operations, from planting to harvesting to composting. She’s also helping out with the farm’s FreshRX program, which provides free nutrition and cooking classes, as well as produce, to people who want to improve their health through food.

Brooklyn Ford ’22 is working at a general farm intern at the urban farm this spring.

An environmental science major, Ford reached out to folks at the farm in November, hoping to learn more about organic farming and other aspects of their work.

“After speaking with her about her interest in sustainable agriculture and passion for environmental science, I knew she would be a great fit for our team,” said Laura Wingfield, volunteer coordinator and assistant farm manager.

Lynchburg Grows sits on seven acres in the middle of the city, its produce supplying the farm’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program and on-site market, the FreshRX program, and area restaurants. The nonprofit also donates food to local organizations that feed the hungry and homeless, with one greenhouse dedicated to growing food for donation.

“It’s just a great environment,” said Ford, who is working on the farm two days a week. “I’m getting to know people working in an area I’m interested in, and I love being outside all the time.

After graduation, she plans to join AmeriCorps and, eventually, would like to work in some area of sustainability.

“Brook has already learned and accomplished so much,” Wingfield said. “And she is a seed-starting pro.”

 

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