Ever wonder what the summer looks like for graduate students? For each program, the summer semester looks a little different, with students taking summer courses, participating in internships, conducting research, among other activities. This summer, we will be inviting current graduate students to share their experiences in their own words. Our next guest blogger is concurrent M.S. in Environmental & Sustainability Studies/Master of Public Administration student Michael Cranford.
Hey y’all! My name is Michael Cranford. I received my undergraduate degree in 2018 from Clemson University in Agricultural Mechanization and Business. Currently, I am about to start my third year of the concurrent Environmental and Sustainability Studies/Public Administration program. This will also be my second year as the CofC Student Garden Manager and my third year as a graduate assistant in the Sustainable Agriculture program, an initiative sponsored by the Environmental and Sustainability Studies program.
My summer has consisted of taking a summer class and working in the student gardens. As part of my M.P.A degree, I have been taking a course in Community Planning. The class has been an insightful look into how planning is used to reflect the values, culture and identity of communities, both from a government and grassroots perspective.
CofC has two sets of Student Gardens. There are 3 urban gardens on campus, and a 3 acre garden located at Stono Preserve. Stono Preserve is approximately 1000 acres of land in Hollywood, SC, owned and maintained by the College of Charleston foundation. Working in the gardens allows me to immerse myself in nature, which helps my mind to relax and focus on my studies.
As the student garden manager, I spend 5 to 6 days a week maintaining the gardens. This involves planting, harvesting, irrigation, equipment upkeep, and construction projects. I also work with community partners to find avenues for produce donation and to help with educational outreach events. This summer, the majority of our produce has gone to Destiny Community Café, a pay-what-you-can community restaurant located in North Charleston. Most recently, the garden team helped Healing Farms, a non-profit working with young adults with disabilities, to rebuild their garden space and plant summer vegetables. Earlier in the summer, I also attended Produce Safety Association Grower Training, to become certified in the safe handling of produce. Finally, I am working on my thesis project to establish a strategic plan that increases the garden’s productivity and expands opportunities for community involvement, research, and education.
After I graduate, I hope to attain a career in the utility industry, either for a private company, municipality, or state agency, though I am also open to continuing my love of agriculture. Whatever I do, I want to work in a way that helps the environment and serves the needs of the people of South Carolina.
To learn more about the concurrent M.S. in Environmental & Sustainability Studies/Master of Public Administration, visit http://espa.cofc.edu/. To learn more about the Sustainable Agriculture Program, visit http://mes.cofc.edu/sustainable-agriculture/index.php