This fall, AERO hosted two Montana Dietetic Interns (MDIs) from MSU’s Department of Health and Human Development. Smart, driven and dedicated, these young professionals provided AERO with valuable staff support as we continue to roll out the MFEI (Montana Food Economy Initiative) 2020 Project supported by Western Sustainable Agriculture and Research Education and the Cottage Food Program supported by Western Extension Risk Management Education (WERME). AERO provided MDIs with supervised practice in community nutrition and food systems dietetic practice required to complete their training as registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs). The interns provided us with insightful observations and feedback from where they stand in the food system as they prepare to enter the workforce as clinicians, food service managers, or public health leaders. The power of making connections across the system is both difficult to measure and lasting. Few things are more impactful than the unexpected insight. This is why AERO is committed to building bridges and network weaving.
Intern Name: Landon Horst
AERO Program Assistance: Cottage Food Program supported by WERME
Below are Landon’s reflections from his time with AERO. You can learn a little more about Landon here.
As a dietetic intern, I found my rotation with AERO to be extremely valuable in changing the way I view the impact of nutrition on human health. During my rotation, I had the opportunity to work on a project to strengthen the relationship between local food producers and the department of public health and human services in Montana. Through this project, I was able to see many of the barriers and obstacles that Montana food producers encounter when trying to provide local food to the community and the negative impacts this has on their livelihood as well as the local food system. It became evident to me through this work that local food is about more than just a short supply chain. Local food is about building a community that is in touch with its food system and an appreciation for where food comes from. By connecting consumers with the source of their food, we are able to promote more positive health outcomes compared to providing medical nutrition therapy after health has already declined. Building a strong local food system is one of the greatest forms of preventative medicine and doesn’t require a trip to a healthcare facility. This is an invaluable insight that I will take with me into my career as a dietitian.
While interning with AERO, I participated in the “racial equity in the food system challenge,” which is a 21-week challenge to encourage people to question the way they think about racism in the food system. As a white male, I can admit that this is something I had very little knowledge about and I was extremely surprised at the extent to which racism impacts every area of our food system. I couldn’t help but consider how this oppression expands far beyond the food system and into every area of the lives of people of color. I find that through this challenge I have developed a more empathetic mindset around the topic of racism and I feel motivated to participate in activism and challenge the conventional way of thinking in the U.S. This is something that will stick with me during my future career as a dietitian but also in my personal life and my relationships with friends and family.