Leanna's Internship Experience

Leanna is standing outside holding a box of green planted vegetables. She is wearing an orange face mask.
Leanna K. at one of the childcare sites during her Summer 2020 internship.

MPH student Leanna K. interned with Brightside Up.

 Brightside Up is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to create a world where all children are understood. This is accomplished by the use of collaborative relationships that enhance the development of children. Within Brightside Up there is a Health Education and Services team, which helps aid childcare providers in the maintenance of health and immunization within their work settings and deliver evidence-based food, nutrition, physical activity and wellness education improvement programs.

What are you working on for your internship? I’m working on the Farm to Preschool (F2P) program. F2P is a component of Eat Well Play Hard in Child Care Settings, an intervention program funded by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education. The main goals of F2P are to increase access to locally grown produce to children and their families, while reducing any cost barriers one may face. This is done through gardening, food and gardening education, and the promotion of local produce. Every spring, Brightside Up is connected with 2-3 child care sites and a local farm to provide the F2P program. This summer we are working with Club Fed of Victory Childcare Inc. in Albany and A Child’s Place at Unity House in Troy. We also paired up with Food Connects to provide communities with food during our weekly market stands.

Three garden beds with green plants sit on a grey brick outdoor patio.
Leanna helped build beds at each of the childcare sites.

What have you been working on for F2P? Lately, I have been creating recipe demonstration videos to coincide with our weekly market stands. The videos are posted on YouTube, then added to our weekly newsletters. The newsletters have information about a particular fruit/veggie from the recipe and a link to the YouTube video. These are handed out at the market and emailed to the childcare centers’ families. Prior to the weekly markets, we held virtual lessons with the kids at both sites to allow them to learn and discover different fruits/veggies. There were planting activities, movement activities, and opportunities for the children to taste new foods. We built each site multiple garden beds and were able to provide fruit, vegetable, flower, and herb starts! We also created garden kits that were mailed home for the children, which included activity sheets, seeds, peat pellets, and containers to start the plants in.

What’s it like to learn out “in the field” on an applied project? Learning in the field is really awesome! I love being able to see my education grow into something more that I can pass on to others. For example, while creating my recipe demonstration videos, I was able to use my education and keep in mind my priority population and how to best deliver the information to them.

The entry way to the Palace Theatre in Albany
Brightside Up held a weekly market in Albany.

What coursework are you applying to your internship?

Intro to Maternal and Child Health, Program Development, and Social Behavior have been very helpful. I have been able to take knowledge from these classes, such as creating SMART goals and understanding more about health disparities and the social determinants of health. I also was able to expand my knowledge on how SNAP benefits are applied to families, and had to keep their budgets in mind while creating the videos.

What’s it like completing this work during a pandemic? Honestly, it’s exceeding my expectations given the roadblocks the pandemic has thrown at all of us. We were able to do Zoom lessons and provide lots of services through creative means. This program reaches so many people within the community and it’s amazing that given the circumstances, we are still able to reach so many!

View some of Leanna’s videos!