The Innovation Scholars program, launched in the Fall of 2009, was designed to provide selected students with a 16-month cycle of training, interning, and reflection. The program included four main components: educational seminars, a monthly roundtable speaker series, networking and mentoring opportunities, and a paid summer academic internship (.5 credit) in which each student designed and implemented an innovative venture within the social or business sector.
|Grant Recipients||Social Innovation Grant Recipients||Estenson Interns||Johnson Social Innovation Intern|
The Grant program awards grants up to $3,000 to individuals or teams to launch sustainable enterprises that create value - commercial, social, artistic and/or scientific. Funds are awarded to students for entrepreneurial projects with social and economic potential. More information...
Emily Rose Pfaltzgraff ’11
Major: Environmental Studies: Arts and Humanities
Project Site & Role: Entrepreneurial Grant recipient for the Carlson SEEDS program
My grant is to develop a perennial farming component for the Social Entrepreneurship, Environmental Design, and Stewardship program. Goals are to increase my knowledge of permacultural farming and to implement a microforest garden guild on the SEEDS farm. Largely, this is to provide perennial foods, conserve water, and build soil health. Dave Jacke's seven F's of Edible Forest Gardens come into the picture here: food, fuel, fiber, fodder, fertilizer, "farmaceuticals" and also fun!
I hope to plant the forest garden in the spring of 2011. This is to create the foundation for a future exploration of perennial food systems with SEEDS interns. I helped those involved visualize what an ecological farm could look like by mapping the concepts and ideas for the farm back while the ground was still bare. I plan to work with local nurseries to plant some of these ideas into the ground.
In the future I am headed towards the exploration of renewable farming. Characteristics of permaculture inform this journey and may include any form of sustainable community agriculture, homestead re-skilling, food preservation and enrichment (wildcrafting), social support systems (art, song, and story), and green building design (straw bale construction).
Feel free to contact me if you want to chat: firstname.lastname@example.org or 715-557-2397 (please leave a message!)
Patrick Amilcar Roisen ’11
Major(s): Political Science, History
Program: Spanglish, General Program Director
Internship Site: Growing up Healthy, a local non-profit that works almost exclusively with the Hispanic community in town.
I designed the Spanglish program with two immediate goals in mind. In collaboration with Growing up Healthy, I sought to not only remove the Hispanic population from general isolation from the "Anglo community" in Northfield. Second, I wanted to provide a laid back and social forum in which intercultural exchange could facilitate language learning. Currently, Spanglish draws in dozens of participants each week at the local Contented Cow. It is a fun way to meet new people and brush-up (if not begin) on one's second language.
As the general director of the program, it was my job to contact the right people in order to make the right things happen. From Growing up Healthy and the Contented Cow, to grant writing and extensive advertising around the community, it was my responsibility to ensure the integrity and sustainability of the program and the completion of its primary goals.
The experience certainly taught me many lessons on community organizing and strategic thinking when it comes to starting or developing a new idea. I have also valued the time and energy that I poured into the program, and meeting a myriad of new people from all walks of life. A truly enriching experience that will surely aid me as I chose a life of civil service.
Kelsey Solum ’11
Major: CIS Independent Major: Body, Earth, and Faith
Project Site and Role: Houston Community Garden, Dirt-to-Dinner Gardening Workshop Facilitator and Guide
I designed this summer gardening program for kids ages 6-12 years old. Introducing ecological concepts, gardening techniques and principles as well as food preparation skills.
The impact was tri-fold, the course promoted participation and education at the community garden which will support their efforts to receive more funding to sustain this project in the future. The courses also connected students with where there food comes from and offered them resources to develop their own garden and cook nourishing meals with the foods that are grown. Participation in the summer program also created new relationships and reinforced others between the kids and with me as their guide and mentor.
This experience opened my eyes to the possibility of directing outdoor education workshops in conjunction with Christian caregiving and ministry. The church support for the Houston Community Garden as well as there participation has made me realize the deep connection gardening has with ministry. My goal is to learn more about pedagogy and current teaching models and methods in experiential education, youth ministry, and outdoor education to offer a Vacation Bible school experience in the community garden.
" The Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it" Gen ii. 15 God has given me and the children the business of keeping and cultivating paradise.
Kelsey Solum - email@example.com or 507-429-0073
Mara Fink ’11
Major(s): sociology/anthropology, political science
Project/Internship Site and Role: Keeping Stories Alive
I am working on an innovative way to bring educational materials about the Japanese American internment into Minnesota classrooms. Instead of working through the teachers who are already overwhelmed with too much material to cover, I am going to be working with elementary school librarians in two different Minnesota school districts to bring materials through the libraries during students' weekly "library time."
How did you have an impact? or, what was your greatest contribution? Not sure if I can answer this yet, as my project won't really get into motion in the classrooms until February...
So far I've been visiting internment camp sites through pilgrimages with others as well as family. Through these visits I've met teachers, presenters, and other former internees who have guided me and given me advice on possible ways to make an accessible educational program about the internment. It has shown me that the chance to be creative and problem solve is one of the things I would love to have as part of my career someday. If you are interested in learning more about my project, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Matt Minea ’12
Major(s): Spanish & Biology
Project/Internship Site and Role: Commercial beekeeping; Founder
We started a commercial beekeeping business with ten colonies. Come harvest we will extract, bottle and sell the honey to the student and Northfield community.
My friend and business partner Erik Jones and I created and maintain ten colonies of bees that will become our profit.
I have learned an incredible amount about bees and now am considering making beekeeping a career. Others interested can call me at 218-341-5198
Social Innovation Grant Recipients
The Entrepreneurial Grant program awards mini-grants of up to $500 for Social Innovation Projects. Do you have a new social change initiative idea? More information...
Gabriel Rysdahl ’11
Project/Internship Site and Role: Lima, Peru - Taught young students and organizing/funding the construction of a school.
I spent three months with my brother Isaac Rysdahl ’14 in San Juan de Lurigancho which is a very poor district of Lima. We taught 2-6 year olds, organized field trips, constructed a library and constructed and furnished a school for the community we were working with. We taught reading and writing (in spanish), mathematics, biology, sanitation, nutrition, basic health and numerous other topics. We also were able to work with the community to construct a school/ community center.
Isaac and I spent many hours each day planning and working with community members. Within a few weeks of our stay in Peru we felt like a member of the community. We were able to give material things to our Peruvian community and in turn received friendship and a new community where we can call home. I want to work with communities in the future and possibly create a non-profit that deals specifically with building schools and educational programs. If you are interested in learn more about our experience or want to help, contact me via email at email@example.com.
Nicholas Kang ’12
Major: Biology, Social Innovation & Community Development (CIS)
Project/Internship Site and Role: Franchising of the Smart Step Youth Association
The purpose of the Smart Step Youth Association is to mobilize a core group of youth, ages 14 to 17, to become an effective force for social change in communities struggling with racial and generational discrimination, substance abuse, violence, and social exclusion. The Smart Step Youth Initiative Programs use experienced mentors, peer learning, community service, and sport to give everyday teenagers an opportunity to become leaders and role models. The Smart Step Youth Association further develops its students into youth facilitators with the skills, self-confidence, and community trust to engage themselves with their peers in ways that will continue to serve the community.
As the founder and head-instructor of the organization, I have been able to work with over 40 teenagers over two summers while training eight of these individuals to run their own Smart Step programs with their friends and peers. Seeing the growth and prosperity of both the students and association has been incredibly rewarding and instrumental in inspiring, motivating, and engaging myself in further development possibilities within the association.
The experience I was able to have with my involvement in Smart Step has given me a completely new outlook on vocation, and has inspired me to continue following my passion within the field of program development in small communities. This experience has also ignited a new interest in the study of community development leading to the creation of my CIS major (Social Innovation & Community Development) as well as an enlightened new perception of personal and educational growth through experiential learning. If you are intersted in getting involved, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit http://smartstepyouth.weebly.com
St. Olaf students interested in gaining exposure to the theory and practice of being entrepreneurial. Students who participate in the summer program gain an orientation to the entrepreneurial process of nurturing ideas, articulating a vision, and building a business strategy. Estenson Interns work in businesses owned, managed, or supervised by St. Olaf College alumni with a deep appreciation for the program. This provides the students with a real-world opportunity to begin developing their own network of St. Olaf alumni. More information...
Kai Hansen ’11
Major: CIS Major - Media: Conceptualization, Production & Commercialization
Project/Internship Site & Role: Productive Corporation, Marketing/Media Intern
I create/manage online content, develop and help implement marketing strategies and start a social media strategy at Productive. I was able to do a lot of media-based things that might not have otherwise been done. I learned a lot about business and marketing from the rest of the team here, but I like to think I gave my share of strategical input as well. Showing up on time and paying dues goes a long way; if you can apply what you've learned at St. Olaf to the workplace, you'll be in a great position to make an impact.
I learned a lot about what it takes to work in an office in downtown Minneapolis. Along with an 8 to 5 workday come the experiences of waking up early every day to commute, navigating rush hour traffic, and setting my own budget and schedule...none are easy! The biggest things were being able to be counted upon, adapt and think on my feet. If you are intersted in learning more about the program, please contact me at email@example.com.
Matt Cosgriff ’11
Major/Concentration: Economics with a Finance emphasis
Project/Internship Site and Role: All Star Financial - Finance Intern
I worked on a wide variety of projects over the summer that included designing and implementing an SEC compliant social media strategy, analyzing and redefining All Star Financial's client serve model, and helping to promote All Star Financial's corporate 401k business by reaching out to senior level business professionals. Small projects included building financial reports, creating excel models to determine portfolio returns and risk statistics and attending both prospective and current client financial meetings. The internship and all of the projects I worked on proved to be both a very helpful in gaining a well-rounded understanding of the financial planning business and also the impact financial planners have on people's lives.
I think analyzing and redefining All Star Financial's client service model was my biggest contribution, because I was able to find and eliminate deficiencies in their old model that will allow them to improve efficiency and deliver better service well into the future.
Sitting in on client meetings gave me a first-hand look at the tremendous impact financial advisors can have on people's lives. The internship strengthened my desire to work in the financial services industry sometime in the near future and gave me an opportunity to both demonstrate skills I've already acquired, but also to learn a wide variety of others that I feel will help me to market myself as I look for a job after graduation. If you would like to learn more about the internship, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carlson SEEDS Internship
(Social Entrepreneurship, Environmental Design, & Stewardship)
The Carlson SEEDS internship program, founded by Greg and Nancy Carlson ’82, is designed to engage students in experiential learning and discovery that fosters a deeper understanding and appreciation for environmental stewardship and sustainable agriculture. More information...
This summer I helped to launch an entrepreneurial project furthering the creation of a healthy, vibrant local food community in Northfield. My responsibilities varied from managerial and organizational tasks like ordering seeds, communicating with buyers, and interacting with consumers at farmer's markets to manual labor like planting, weeding and harvesting. My internship partner, Chelsea, and I successfully produced an abundance of healthy vegetables which we sold and donated within the community.
The most important element of my summer internship centered upon the human relationships I built over the course of LSC. I spent hours networking with established farmers, doling out (and receiving) advice from master gardeners, sharing recipe ideas with Northfielders at the Riverwalk Market Fair, and constantly refining my own values and vision in conversations with curious passersby. This exchange of information, ideas and enthusiasm was by far the most rewarding part of my summer.
I gained a realistic understanding of the complex challenges behind the realization of social change as well as real-world appreciation for the economics and management skills behind a start-up farm. As a result of my LSC experience I feel better equipped to start my own farm (possibly drawing from the Carlson SEEDS farm model), and capable of appreciating the honest exchange of healthy food on a small scale as a form of social change.
Chelsea Wagner ’11
Major(s): Women's Studies and American Studies
Project/Internship Site and Role: Carlson SEEDS farm, Farm Intern
Reflection Essay: The Prospect of Possibility (was also a part of LSC)
I worked on the Carlson farm for eight weeks--farming as well as
coordinating with the community.
Natasha and I basically started the farm, laying the foundation for
years to come.
This summer provoked a lot of introspection ans self inquiry. I have a
new direction and plan to go into holistic medicine in the future.
Johnson Social Innovation Internship
The Johnson Social Innovation Internship program will provide two St Olaf students with the opportunity to design and develop innovative and resourceful approaches to addressing social problems in the Northfield or Twin Cities area. Students will propose a socially innovative plan that will be implemented within an existing nonprofit organization. More information...
I worked within a non-profit organization that teaches parents with
children in the public education system how to work within both the educational system as well as the governmental system, to create
change for the state's schools. Within this organization, I developed a tool that took unquantifiable information and made it quantifiable so it can be used to report on the impact of the organization. The
intent is that this tool can be used to secure other grants in order to make Parents United a sustainable organization.