Alumni Spotlight: Haley Kerner ’19

Haley Kerner | Alumni Spotlight

Date: April 5, 2021

Farmer at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, Hudson Valley, NY

Experiences at the Campus Farm and in the classroom gave Kerner the exposure to the different skills and activities she gets to employ everyday in her current role. 

Did any of your experience(s) on campus lead you to your current role? 

Working on the Campus Farm solidified my interest in pursuing a career in food and farming after college. As a student-led farm, students are able to deeply engage with whole farming systems in a way that would not be possible without student agency over the farm. I was able to learn how to grow and care for a variety of crops throughout the season, as well as learn useful farm business and organizational skills. I grew to love the physical, hands-on nature of farming and the strong community bonds it builds. 

The practical and experiential nature of the Campus Farm complimented my classes and rounded out my food systems education at UofM. I especially loved the Food Literacy for All class for bringing in speakers from many different backgrounds who are doing incredible work in the food system. The class broadened my understanding of the issues we face and made me sit with uncomfortable truths of the systems of oppression and injustice embedded in our food system. It encouraged me to continue to think critically about the path forward and hold values of equity and justice close to the work I do.

What is one piece of advice you would give students interested in pursuing a career in food systems?

Do not feel like you have to know exactly where you want to be in food systems work to get started.  Start exploring things you find interesting, learn more about people or organizations who are doing things you think are cool, and trust yourself to just jump in. No matter what career path you end up pursuing, there will most likely be a way to tie it to food and agriculture. It’s one thing that is great about this type of work; it is so broad and multifaceted that people from all career backgrounds can contribute in different but meaningful ways.