Celebrating 10 Years of the Fellows Program: Piper Fernwey

Piper fernweyPiper Fernwey
Fellow from May 2011-June 2013, based in Minneapolis

Bon Appétit campus attended: Case Western Reserve University

Current job: Community programs & sustainability support manager for Bon Appétit in Ohio/Indiana

Skill/wisdom you gained from the Fellowship: So much. Being a Fellow cultivated my interest and skills in traveling. I felt so privileged to be able to visit all of these amazing places for work, and then stay the weekend after and really explore. I also learned about the power of perceptions and assumptions, and how to use the way people see me and the assumptions they make to my benefit. As a Fellow, we were like a bridge between students and Bon Appétit staff, and I could be perceived as belonging to either category depending on the way I dressed, carried, or introduced myself.

Memorable experience as a Fellow: One of the most memorable for me will always be the farmworker rights panel at St. Edward’s University. In researching groups and offices I could connect with to do a Farmworker Awareness Week event, I learned about the CAMP scholarship program for the children of migrant farmworkers, and the lack of awareness and understanding in the St. Edward’s community as to why these select students got a scholarship their first year. So, along with the CAMP staff, I organized a panel discussion wherein CAMP scholarship recipients could tell their peers what it was like growing up a migrant farmworker, and what they want to do with their lives. Each and every one of them was studying to become a doctor, in the hopes to treat cancers that are, in large part, caused by the spraying of insecticides; a lawyer to help fight human rights abuses in farm fields; or something similarly inspiring to help their families and people in similar situations to how they grew up.  It was a beautiful thing to be a part of, and I’m so happy the CAMP office made it a regular event.

Advice for current food-activist students: Ask questions, lots of them. I think in our current information age, we’re often overwhelmed, oversaturated, and we are quick to canonize or vilify, to place things into one of those two opposing categories of “good” or “evil” to make the world around us simpler. But the truth is, the world is much more complicated than that, and you’ll only learn a clearer version of the story if you ask questions and are open-minded enough to allow things to exist in the gray area in between.

Read more Fellows 10th Anniversary interviews: