Student Spotlight

Mary Kohl, Senior

When Mary Kohl was selected to work as a Garden Assistant at Lincoln Elementary School in Corvallis through the Healthy Youth Program at the Linus Pauling Institute, she was excited about the opportunity to work with students to help them learn about the benefits and the challenges of growing food.

It's a great opportunity for Kohl, a senior graduating in Spring 2013 with a B.S. in Horticulture, with an option in Environmental Landscapes (now called Ecological Landscapes and Urban Forestry), to teach children the basics of nutrition through fresh grown fruits and vegetables.

Helping people achieve a healthier life through research is the Linus Pauling Institute's mission, and the Healthy Youth program began as a way to promote better eating and nutrition among school aged children. This fall, the Healthy Youth Program acquired the Lincoln Elementary School garden, and Kohl, who had interned with the Healthy Youth Program over the summer designing and implementing their new summer camp, was selected for the position.

"I create lessons for the kids, and we get them out and in the dirt, teaching them the basics of gardening. Our garden also provides the school cafeteria with fruits and vegetables such as raspberries, peppers and tomatoes," explains Kohl. She works 10 hours a week, which includes maintaining the garden.

Through the Healthy Youth Program, Kohl has also been able to run an after school gardening club that is part of the Lion's Den Boys and Girls Club of Corvallis.

Kohl has enjoyed working with youth so much that she's branched out her efforts into volunteering for College Hill High School's horticulture class, which is offered as part of the local alternative school's curriculum.

Kohl credits her time at OSU, in particular, her work in the Department of Horticulture and its requirement for all students to complete an internship for her interest in bringing gardening and the outdoors to children. In fact, after graduation Kohl wants to explore careers that bring together working with youth, gardening, and making healthy choices.

"I really liked having classes with like-minded people," said Kohl. "Everyone in the Department of Horticulture is excited about growing and using plants. I also appreciated the variety of people and interests in the Environmental Landscapes program and the diversity in age and backgrounds of the students."