APPLES interns grow in garden

APPLES intern Becca at the CCG

APPLES intern Becca Beechold with a tomato harvest at the Carolina Community Garden

By Angelica Edwards, NCBG Communications Intern

The North Carolina Botanical Garden’s partnership with APPLES Service-Learning offers students the opportunity to work with the Garden while fulfilling their APPLES service requirements.

APPLES is a UNC-Chapel Hill student-led program that connects academic learning to public service. Their internship program brings students to nonprofit & governmental agencies and enrolls them in an online service-course that counts toward graduation.

“It was a very valuable experience,” said Becca Beechold, a senior environmental studies major, who graduated in December. “[It] just seemed to be a perfect fit for my interests.”

Beechold joined the APPLES internship program as a shared garden assistant, a position that works with the Coker Arboretum, Carolina Community Garden (CCG), and Edible Campus UNC.

Beechold volunteered at the CCG the summer before her internship and was already familiar with the harvesting, planting, and watering responsibilities of the community garden. When she became the shared garden assistant, those responsibilities increased to coming on her own to water plants. She also led tours and volunteer work days, which were her favorite activity.

“I think it allowed me to grow the most,” she said. “It was nice to … feel like I could have real responsibility and be trusted.”

Beechold had no prior landscape experience, but her time at the Arboretum taught her about plant removal, conservation strategies, and plant and mushroom identification.

Beechold also worked at the Edible Campus UNC community garden, where she helped with the Harvest Moon Festival planning and harvesting.

APPLES student Kathryn Obenshain working in Coker Arboretum
APPLES student Kathryn Obenshain working in Coker Arboretum

Kathryn Obenshain, a senior environmental studies major, was the shared garden assistant intern the year before Beechold. Unlike Beechold, she had no prior experience with the Gardens.

At the start of her internship, she was initially the satellite garden manager at Edible Campus, but COVID altered her internship experience.

The first few weeks of her internship were completely online, and to ensure she could fulfill her hour requirements with the APPLES program, the shared garden assistant position was created for her and future interns to work in three gardens.

“Having the opportunity to work with the three gardens gave me so many different perspectives, and allowed me to meet so many different people,” said Obenshain. “I learned a lot about plant identification, sustainable agricultural management, nonprofit organization, … working with volunteers, and I continue to learn.”

Obenshain worked on a cookbook for Edible Campus, where she was tasked with cooking, styling, photographing, and editing the recipes into the cookbook.

“It actually ended up being really valuable,” said Obenshain. “I got to test the recipes to make sure that they work … that they’re easy to understand.”

She also enjoyed pulling horsenettle and other weeds at the Arboretum and identifying plants.

Following her APPLES internship, Obenshain retained her volunteer position at the Edible Campus where she is still the satellite garden manager.

It was “literally the best summer that I’ve ever had,” Obenshain said.  “It was such a good time.”