White Violet Center intern Isabelle McCurdy takes a family on a tour of the facility, showing them the chickens.

After Isabelle McCurdy graduated from high school, she wanted to take a year off before attending college in order to pursue one of her passions.

Social justice.

While exploring the topic, she found the White Violet Center for Eco-Justice (WVC) website.

Being a ministry of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, Isabelle, 19, was immediately intrigued after seeing the sisters shared her passion of social justice issues. She also found herself interested in the WVC internship program.

“I’m a hands-on learner and I like the outdoors. I was immediately attracted to the program,” Isabelle said. “What really sealed the deal for me was the sisters’ eco-spirituality. That was very attractive to me.

“I wanted to learn more and see what they were all about. I have been pleasantly surprised.”

The Chattanooga, Tenn., native arrived at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in late 2016 and signed up for a six-month internship. She will be leaving in May this year.

Since coming to WVC, Isabelle has been involved in all aspects of the center.

“I wanted to do everything,” she said. “I’d had all of my fingers in all of the pies.”

She has especially enjoyed her time with the alpacas and chickens.

“I love being with the alpacas. They all have different personalities,” Isabelle said. “And the chickens have kind of adopted me as their buddy. I love being with them.”

During her time at WVC, Isabelle has explored fiber arts – including spinning, knitting and weaving. She has also harvested USDA certified organic vegetables in high tunnels, collected, washed and packaged farm fresh eggs.

Isabelle also attended a small farm conference and took field trips to other farms.

Isabelle said she plans to attend college in the fall, possibly Middle Tennessee State University.

But her time at WVC will always stay with her, she said.

“I have gained a new found respect for the amount and effort it takes to keep a small farm running in able to sustain yourself,” she said. “I’ve learned so much. It is definitely interesting living community-style, how you experience things together. I’ve grown a lot.”