As an Environmental Studies major with a concentration in Women’s Studies,
Lauren Howe ’13 has always been interested in working with non-profit organizations dealing with relevant environmental issues. This past summer, with the help of the Levitt Public Service Internship Fund, Howe was able to intern in the legal services department of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources in their Amherst office.
Throughout the summer, Howe focused on two main projects. Her first assignment was to write Agricultural Law Memorandums for the department’s website. “The focus of my work here thus far is within the legal branch of the MDAR and is related to the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act, which regulates how farmers and landowners can conduct agricultural activities on their land,” Howe stated. “Writing the memorandums is basically simplifying the material in the actual regulations so that farmers and the general public can understand what’s being said.” During her time at the
MDAR, Howe completed five memorandums, which will hopefully be available on their website in the near future.
Howe’s second priority at the MDAR was to research how farmer’s markets in
Massachusetts can register to become tax-exempt non-profit entities. “For this assignment, I have been researching options including: limited liability company (LLC), agricultural marketing cooperative, and registered nonprofits, as well as the differences between various tax-exempt statuses such as 501(c)3 and 501(c)6,” Howe explained. “I got to e-mail and talk to farmer’s market managers from all around the country, which was pretty neat.” Towards the end of the summer, she composed a document that included the steps of how to become a non-profit in Massachusetts and how farmer’s markets could file for tax-exempt status.
A typical day in the workplace for Howe ranged anywhere from sitting behind a desk in her cubicle to sitting in on important meetings and panels, such as a board meeting for the Massachusetts Dairly Promotion Board (MDPB). She also interacted with two field agents working for the company, who supplied valuable insight in their experiences going to farms and other sites to gather information. Howe expressed that her biggest challenge was being left on her own to complete much of her research. “It was a new independence in terms of a summer job that I had never had before, which was tough at first,” Howe admitted. “I recognize, however, this is all part of the learning experience
and in fact, it encouraged independence and freethinking.”
When asked what the most important thing that she learned during her internship was, Howe paused for a brief moment before delving into her passion for non-profits. “I’m definitely really interested in non-profits, so the fact that I could research how to create a non-profit was really cool. It also helped me realize that it’s more feasible than I thought, if it’s ever something that I want to accomplish myself,” she answered. With graduation right around the corner, Howe hopes to pursue her love of agriculture and
food with a Watson fellowship that would allow her to study the role of modern technology in traditional food systems in Canada, Bolivia, Tanzania, and India. Howe also looks forward to applying for jobs in the public service field.
“My biggest piece of advice for anyone, especially juniors, looking to get a valuable internship is to start early,” Howe concluded. “Since I was abroad in Australia last spring, I began contacting potential employers in October and explained to them that I would have limited time and access while away. This took a lot of the stress off my back while I was abroad and let me make the most of my time across the world.”