HOPE SEEDS INTERNSHIP PROGRAM
Serve in Missions at Hope Seeds and
Learn Gardening & Nonprofit Operations
HOPE SEEDS is seeking current college students or graduates whose strong Christian commitment is leading them to prepare for work with sustainable food production and missions in the Developing World. The internship is designed to serve both to strengthen the ministry of HOPE SEEDS and as a learning-by-doing program in horticulture and various office related tasks for those considering missionary service (any denomination) or other direct involvement with ministry in the Developing Nations. Selected individuals serve as interns at our facility in Bradenton, Florida for three months followed by an optional future staff associate position within the States or overseas. Starting dates are flexible but usually start early summer and end in early fall.
This is a wonderful opportunity for personal and professional development for someone seriously considering a career in missions or community development in the name of Christ. The interns have the satisfaction of making an incredible contribution to HOPE SEEDS global ministry. At the same time, we aim to expose interns to all aspects of Hope Seeds ministry and assign research projects and other tasks that will help solve hunger related issues. The work will be challenging but fulfilling in many ways.
The interns quickly develop experience in growing plants and working on specific projects. They develop skills in supervising volunteer workers, meeting the public, and in operating a small nursery and shade house. In addition, each intern is expected to pursue his/her own study program under the guidance of Hope Seeds staff.
Hope Seeds will give interns a unique range of experience and learning opportunities. Many will find that their time at Hope Seeds will help them focus their goals and make it easier to know what direction they should head after leaving Hope Seeds -- whether to go overseas immediately, go to graduate school, focus on research, or minister within the United States.
Hope Seeds provides interns with housing, utilities, all the vegetables they can eat and a stipend of $1,000 a month (before taxes) for the 3 months at Hope Seeds. We highly encourage interns to provide their own local transportation. However, Hope Seeds is in an urban area where public transportation is available and as a result social, recreational, and church options are quite available. Hope Seeds provides interns with a one-way plane ticket to Bradenton or reimburses interns at the rate of $0.50/mile for those who drive.
Hope Seeds currently does not operate a working farm but seeks to partner with churches and local gardeners to grow and demonstrate plants that are important to small-scale farmers, the urban poor, and gardeners in developing countries. Hope Seeds plans works on the campus of Hope Church where demonstrations will display gardens and appropriate technologies. Hope Seeds will not be a farm in the common sense of having large fields of crops and herds of animals. The facility serves as a hands-on learning tool or work experience for interns, an educational tool for public tours, and for production of seeds. At Hope Seeds, we practice both organic and inorganic methods of gardening and pest control. We encourage our interns to be familiar with on-farm sources of nutrients and organic pest control practices and to use them as much as possible. We extensively use mulch and organic materials, as they are available. Interns learn techniques to recycle nutrients from plants such as alley cropping, green manuring, and hill cultures. Because of labor and time constraints and low soil fertility in Florida, Hope Seeds staff and interns do use synthetic fertilizers and herbicides on a limited basis. When we have insect problems our standard treatment is an oil and soap spray, but occasionally we use other insecticides if the crop is important.
Hope Seeds interns are highly involved in the operation and maintenance of all aspects of the seed sending program and research. Hope Seeds has a wide variety of seed that is grown in the tropics and will give hands on experience growing out and researching these varieties. Activities common to all interns include growing many of the important vegetables and plants for seed, multi‑purpose trees, and maintaining the various demonstrations which are currently in an urban setting, much like the conditions faced by the urban poor populations we serve. Hope Seeds plans to concentrate its efforts on growing food within small spaces, nutritional gardens, and demonstrating appropriate technologies. All interns help harvest and clean seed, run seed packing events, and process seed orders placed by missionaries. Interns also supervise the work of local volunteers and lead educational tours for visiting individuals and groups. Normal work hours are 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday and as needed on Saturday mornings. You will normally have at least one Saturday each month totally free of work obligations (except for any chores for which you are responsible). Chores must be handled on Sundays and holidays as well. Most intern's find they spend between 40 to 45 hours/wk dedicated to hands-on work on the farm, in the office, and with the public. Additional time, at the discretion of each intern, is spent in study, field trips, and in church and community activities with the other interns. The intern program is informal; learning for the most part occurs through hands-on experience. Other learning occurs in seminars and workshops or as opportunities may arise in the course of the work, and experimentation. However, Hope Seeds does not run a formal training program for interns or students.
Each intern is assigned responsibilities that may include techniques for semi-arid gardens, tropical gardens, school gardens and the urban gardens. Each of these areas highlight plants and techniques which can be useful under incredibly challenging conditions (such as when people have no land or limited rain or infertile soil.) Interns determine along with Hope Seeds staff what will be grown in each of these areas and care for and maintain these demonstrations.
Interns are also given special assignments. He/she might be asked to help write an article for a newsletter, develop promotional materials, help prepare responses to inquiries from overseas, speak at a school or church, etc. Interns also share the housekeeping work involved in hosting missionaries, students, and other guests. Interns may be assigned a special research project as well.
THE REQUIREMENTS and APPLICATION
We do not require interns to have a degree in agriculture or related sciences nor that they have previous farm or gardening experience, although both are helpful. Most interns come to Hope Seeds right after or while getting their bachelor's degree. However, we have had interns with a variety of education, experiences, and work experience, overseas and in the U.S. We look for candidates who likely will be involved in future work overseas or committed to work with the poor. Interns must have a commitment to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in his/her own life, be able to do manual work, and have good interpersonal skills.
If you have questions about the internship, we are easily reached by phone: 941-228-5660 or e-mail: Dave@HopeSeeds.org. We are always glad to talk with potential candidates.
We review applications in early January and do phone interviews in February. Positions are generally committed 3-5 months ahead of time, so it is best to get your application in as early as possible (up to 12 months before you are available). There is considerable competition and positions are limited. Being flexible in your starting dates and job assignment is very beneficial.