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Blooming in the gardens at the Woods

“I never thought I would be working with Catholic sisters. It shows how times are changing. It is so great to connect and work with different types of people.”

White Violet Center for Eco-Center for Eco-Justice intern Lily Seals in the garden.

Lily Seals is a sophomore at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. As a wildlife conservation and management major, she needed a lab credit. Her professor, Dr. James Brinson, suggested that Lily volunteer on the Sisters of Providence farm.

“It stuck. I really liked the staff and working with the animals. I decided to apply for the summer internship.” Although Lily only worked with the animals during her volunteer experience, the White Violet Center for Eco-Justice summer internship mainly focused on the garden. Since she’s joined the intern program Lily has learned about farming by prepping garden beds, transplanting seedlings, harvesting, cleaning and preparing produce for the White Violet Farm Store and Terre Haute Farmers Market.

Lifelong skills

Intern Lily with our newest alpaca cria (baby) Pax Terre

“Getting up and taking care of animals teaches you routine and responsibility. You have to be selfless because animals need cared for every day regardless of whether it’s a holiday or bad weather,” Lily shared about her experiences during this internship. “Working in the gardens shows you how to be self-sufficient so you can grow your own food. Experiencing the farmers market shows you the end result of the growing process. It also requires you to engage with people which really helps improve your communication skills.”

Lily is proud of what she has accomplished as an intern. “Growing vegetables is pretty incredible. I get to experience this from start to finish. After we harvest it really makes me proud to realize that I grew this. I was part of the process and now I get to enjoy the results.” Lily also really enjoyed working with the alpacas and slowly building their trust and respect.

“I feel strongly about what White Violet Center is doing. I wish more organizations would make a commitment to give back to the land instead of just taking from it,” Lily said. Being with the Sisters of Providence has also had an impact on her.

Growing in the Woods

Lily would recommend the farm internship to others. “Do it. You only live once so try everything and see what you like the best.”

If you can’t be an intern, there are other ways you can be a part of the ministry through volunteering or supporting the work through donations.

“A few years ago, we received funds for deer fencing which has really helped protect some of our crops from deer and other
wildlife,” Lily said. “This has been really important for the farm, but we still face a lot of challenges.”

Volunteers are also a valuable resource that the White Violet Farm could not operate without. And sometimes we get very lucky and volunteers turn into interns, just like Lily.

Originally published in the Fall 2023 issue of HOPE magazine.

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Mary Riley

Mary Riley

Mary Riley is director of operations for White Violet Center for Eco-Justice, a ministry of the Sisters of Providence at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. Prior to her current role, she served as the marketing manager for some ministries of the Sisters of Providence including White Violet Center for Eco-Justice and the Volunteer Services.

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