Meet the 2016 Summer Interns!

Tim Kerkhove and Elise Nelson
Wed, 06/29/2016 - 11:30am

The Gerhardt and DukeEngage Interns are here

1000 Friends of Oregon is pleased to introduce our summer interns. If these two are any indication of our future leaders, we will all be better for it.

Tim Kerkhove - 2016 Gerhardt Intern

I am 20 years old and from Omaha, Nebraska. I will be entering my third year at Iowa State University in the fall double majoring in Global Resource Systems as well as Community and Regional Planning with minors in Spanish and Sustainability. During my freshman year at Iowa State I co-founded an organization called Students for the New Urbanism, a student chapter of a larger organization called the Congress for the New Urbanism. Our goal is to educate the student body about sustainable communities and specific issues facing Ames, where ISU is located. During our brief existence we have brought the transportation planner for Ames to campus to talk to students about the changes being made to the transportation system in town. We have also lead a green roofs tour on campus.

During the summer of 2015 I interned with a community garden and urban farm called City Sprouts located in north Omaha, much of which is a food desert. While there I gained experience working in urban farming and knowledge about local food systems. The following school year I conducted a case study of City Sprouts in which I examined how the demographics of the neighborhood in which City Sprouts is located impacted its structure and geographic range of activity. My project was accepted for a poster presentation at the annual conference of the Association of International Agriculture Extension Educators in April of 2016.

The Gerhardt internship was started in 1986 in order to honor the legacy of one of the most influential people to work at 1000 Friends, Paul Gerhardt, Jr. Paul began working at 1000 Friends in 1981 at the young age of 24, a time when many Oregon communities were completing their first comprehensive plans after the adoption of the state’s landmark land use planning laws in 1974. Paul sadly passed away, of melanoma, in 1985 at the age of 28. Paul’s parents, Paul Sr. and Nancy Gerhardt, created an endowed internship for planning undergraduate and graduate students in Paul’s memory. Through this internship, students from around the country have been given the incredible opportunity to learn about Oregon’s unique land use system while contributing to the work 1000 Friends does to protect it.

I have enjoyed my time interning with 1000 Friends immensely. The project I am working on concerns Oregon’s food system as well as the food systems of three Oregon geographies: The Rogue Valley; the tri-county area of Deschutes, Crook, and Jefferson; and the Hood River Valley. The goal of the project is to create a report highlighting the importance of Oregon’s farmland for providing nutritious and economically valuable food.

I have learned so much during my time in Oregon interning with an incredibly motivated and talented group of people and am excited to contribute to the work of a truly unique, and necessary, organization.

Elise Nelson - 2016 DukeEngage Intern

This summer, I'm joining 1000 Friends as marketing and communications intern via DukeEngage, a civic engagement program for students at Duke University. Though born and raised in Alabama, I spend most of my year in North Carolina at Duke, where I study linguistics with special interest in French and English. 

I'm passionate about language and culture and look forward to this fall, when I will begin my senior thesis project on methods of second language acquisition and tech tools that can help (think Duolingo and Rosetta Stone). During the school year I serve on the editorial board of The Archive literary magazine, Duke’s oldest student publication, and I love volunteering at the Duke Campus Farm on weekends. In my free time, I’m a writer and a poet and find inspiration in my travels and the characters I meet along the way. Some of my latest adventures include working at an international school in France’s Loire Valley as a summer camp counselor and living in New York City for a semester, where I interned in the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts’ international department. 

I’m lucky to participate in DukeEngage before I graduate next spring; the program immerses Duke students in communities all over the world, where we learn about and help tackle specific challenges these communities face. The DukeEngage Portland program is focused on issues of environment and sustainability, which are so relevant to the city in this moment: Portland is at a crux in its growth, where crucial development and policy decisions must be made now to ensure a bright, sustainable, and inclusive future. What's been confirmed since moving here is that Portland also has a diverse, engaged community that is active in securing the best future possible for its city.

In light of these issues, I'm delighted to be working with 1000 Friends. The organization's work is more than simply securing land use policy that helps city dwellers or a single part of the population—1000 Friends is dedicated to all of Oregon, from rural farm towns to urban centers, in advocating for thoughtful, forward-thinking policy that ensures spaces that benefit everyone—including future generations. This mission of inclusivity really speaks to my roots growing up in Huntsville, AL, where farmland still fits seamlessly in the heart of the little city, and I’m certain I’ll take what I learn back to my second hometown of Durham, NC, which is experiencing some growing pains of its own. This summer I’ll be working on revamping 1000 Friends’ website, streamlining content and making features more user-friendly. With these updates, more people can learn about the organization, benefit from our great resources, and get involved—look out for them in the future!