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Eugene teacher preparing for upcoming farm-to-table program

Teacher Wendy McKenzie took on an externship at a local farm to learn skills to bring back to her classroom.

Posted: Aug 19, 2019 4:44 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- The Willamette Valley is home to thousands of acres of farmland, and with that land comes a need for workers.

That's why Angela Andre, owner of Phoenix Farms, offers internships, externships and apprenticeships to people who want to explore the reality of working on and managing a farm.

This summer, Wendy McKenzie, a teacher at Network Charter School in Eugene, took an externship on the farm to learn skills and lessons to bring back to her classroom.

This school year, her classes will be running a small farm-to-table operation.

McKenzie said she was most interested in practicing soft skills such as being prompt and taking a leadership position on the farm. 

"Once I was out here, I realized it was the perfect job for someone who doesn't want to be inside," said McKenzie. "You learn so much by doing out here that it can be an entry level thing right out of school if you have a passion for it."

McKenzie said the skills and training she received this summer will be extremely helpful to her students.

At Phoenix Farms, the food grown and livestock raised are sold at farmers markets and restaurants all over the Willamette Valley.

Andre said she loves allowing people the opportunity to work on her farm and learn all aspects of what it takes. 

"We have to do everything from plumbing to fencing," said Andre. "We do electrical, we do engines. We're doing machinery, we're doing animals, we're doing vegetables, so you know there's a little bit of everything."

She said the work is hard and running a farm takes mental and physical dedication. But she said for someone with a passion for this type of work, it is beyond rewarding.

Andre offers programs at her farm all year long for budding farmers who think they have what it takes to be a part of the agriculture industry.

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