My name is Carly Burton and I am an English major at the University of Wyoming. In the image accompanying this blog, you will see both myself and my amazing husband this past Halloween.
We have only been a part of the Laramie community for two years now, but unlike many students we have come to know some family communities living in this small town through both our church and an array of service opportunities.
Yet, like many students in the migratory population, both studies, work, and time limit the diversity of experiences serving the community. While occasional opportunities arise that help us engage with a cause, such starts are unable to grow to a point in which they can produce a real understanding of the organizations and their positive impact.
I never saw the need to better understand and aid these organizations because I did not see past the surface of my volunteer experiences. I finally got my first taste when I was introduced to Feeding Laramie Valley.
I first became aware of Feeding Laramie Valley through a class titled, “Writing for Non-Profits” at the University of Wyoming. Under the direction of Professor Michael Knievel, the class visited local non-profits and heard a bit about how each organization worked within the small Laramie community.
While each was engaging and intriguing, the demonstration my classmates and I witnessed at Feeding Laramie Valley became my favorite as Lina Dunning explained the importance of correct communication.
Lina demonstrated how much Feeding Laramie Valley relies on discussion, collaboration, and individuals. It only then occurred to me that there was something more to their projects and goals through their reliance on first-person experience to develop solutions and find expertise.
Over the summer, I began to think on how people with first-hand experience could be experts. As a part of the Laramie community, I had no idea food equality was a need that existed. Yet, through this train of thought, I recognized how lack of food security could become an extreme problem in Wyoming as I found a small-scale example in my own life.
Being a broke college student, I could remember times when I lived Ramen packet to Ramen packet with a loving mother telling me to eat healthier every time I called home. This is the case for many college students and, as such, is highly prevalent in the Laramie community, but I could not and cannot imagine the impact such suffering causes families.
Past that, I considered how Wyoming was even more limited in fresh produce than most states. It took my mother and I years after moving to Wyoming to figure out the shortened growing season and to get good, fertile soil to support our small crop.
We were able to find support in our small community and they soon became our friends and loving neighbors. People became the best tools and support for our family. Our expertise was limited, and this is where the experts with specific experience with this problem stepped in and gave us their solutions.
Feeding Laramie Valley sees this power of community and lived expertise and as I came to some small understanding of their work, I began to see what they were showing me. My interest was beyond peaked. I needed to know more!
That summer I found myself contacting Feeding Laramie Valley to see if they would add me to their efforts as a writing intern for the Fall semester. Since then I have come to see a small part of this organization and have realized how little I really know about food equality.
As part of my learning experience and, perhaps to allow others to relive their first encounters as well, this blog will follow my internship with Feeding Laramie Valley. A huge and necessary piece of this process will be in the expertise of this community and I am excited to learn everything this experience has to offer me.