Volunteer spotlight: Taran Wise


By Alex Sclafani, Intervale Center intern

No matter the season of the year, our programs at the Intervale Center wouldn’t be the same without our amazing community of volunteers. In the spring, volunteers help the Conservation Nursery team propagate new trees and shrubs. In summer and fall, volunteers glean with the Food Rescue program, and help out with our community event, Summervale. We also rely on volunteers around the office, the web, trails and in our gardens.  

Last week, I had the chance to catch up with volunteer, Taran, to hear about his experiences volunteering with various programs at the Intervale Center. Taran is a senior at UVM where he studies Environmental Studies, concentrating in Food Systems.

How did you first get involved volunteering at the Intervale Center? With which programs have you volunteered?

It must have been through the City Market Member Worker program about two years ago. Initially, I volunteered with the Conservation Nursery doing some weeding and transplanting seedlings. Then I did some gleaning this summer. A lot of what I did this summer as well was help out with event setup. Most recently I’ve started helping with trail stewardship.


What excites you about volunteering in these various programs at the Intervale?

When I started to focus on the Food Systems concentration in the Environmental Studies major, my values and priorities began to change direction, and volunteering at the Intervale is directly related to my interests. I was learning and reading and talking about food systems, broadly, in classes and I had even come down to the Intervale for two class field trips. Being exposed through those classes was great, and what’s brought me back has been the community here. Everyone is just incredibly welcoming and supportive and nice.

That’s great to hear. So what interests you most about food systems?

Well, it’s certainly multi-tiered. One thing I’m interested in is labor rights of farm workers and labor conditions. Another thing is food access. When I was a senior in high school, my school purchased a Freight Farm hydroponic production system. I worked inside of that a little bit. From that point, I had an interest in urban production of fresh and healthy foods to both support food access and combat food insecurity. Another important thing is soil health. I’ve never studied soil, but what I know about ecosystems that exist within soil are fascinating. And one more thing: The Environmental Studies curricula in the Rubenstein School at UVM has prepared me with a systems perspective and an appreciation of interdependence. All those various interests surrounding the food systems are individual aspects, but they are also certainly connected. And this here at the Intervale is just an interconnection of what they’ve taught me, how I think, you know.

That’s very interesting. Interdependence is a beautiful thing! Do you have a favorite thing you’ve done while volunteering or a favorite part of volunteering?

Can I have two? One is definitely the people who are here and who comprise the Intervale Center. Another is being able to contribute to a thriving and important operation made up of many different projects – being able to contribute to something very close to home and that then supports many more people other than myself and the people who are employed here. It’s doing a service beyond a select few people, and that’s what I ultimately enjoy the most.

Interested in getting involved at the Intervale Center as a volunteer? Sign up here for our volunteer listserv to learn about opportunities as they become available! You can also check Wildfire to see what opportunities are coming up. If you have a group of coworkers, friends, or family that want to volunteer together, contact us and we’ll set up a fun volunteer experience for you.

Abby Portman