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Internship Program Expands Horizons
Internship Program Expands Horizons

The American Botanical Council’s first three interns of the fall semester each came to the organization through their own efforts and not as part of the formal internship programs ABC typically uses (i.e., University of Texas at Austin or Texas State University-San Marcos). Each intern comes from a different background and has her own distinct reasons for wanting to do an internship at ABC.

Jennifer King, PharmD, is a pharmacist from Des Moines, Iowa. She graduated in 2002 from the University of Iowa and works for Hy-Vee, an employee-owned supermarket chain serving seven Midwestern states. Jennifer read an article on ephedra by ABC Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal, which led her to ABC’s Web site. From the site she learned of ABC’s internship program and applied to come to Austin for a month to study various aspects of herbal medicine. While her employer is not a big promoter of herbal dietary supplements, the company is open-minded on the subject and supported Jennifer in her decision to visit ABC for a month-long internship. Jennifer’s goals for her time at ABC included developing a stronger knowledge base in the area of herbal medicine and learning how she could help educate others in the area of herbal dietary supplements.

While at ABC, Jennifer worked on research requests from ABC members and special projects. She also completed a project of her own devising, a Power Point presentation on women’s health focusing on menopause. When questioned as to whether she had accomplished her goals, she said, “Yes, I have a much better idea of the scientifically-based resources that are available, and my research skills have really improved.” Jennifer also stated how impressed and satisfied she was upon learning that ABC’s educational materials and content development skills were being used by so many large companies in the herbal industry, as well as by some medical institutions and government agencies.

Also joining ABC for the fall is Johanna Portlock, who learned about ABC’s internship opportunity through American YouthWorks, an AmeriCorps program. She toured the gardens after learning that an internship at ABC was an option, was impressed by their beauty and usefulness, and decided that working with ABC appealed to her early interest in biology, botany, and health care. Her goals at ABC are to help expand the gardens and to learn as much as she can about the medicinal uses of plants for her personal health.

Johanna is working on a B.A. in English and wants to teach ESL (English as a Second Language). She has employed her writing skills by working on an ongoing special project at ABC wherein she researches and writes overviews of specific herbs. She has also been instrumental in preparing and planting ABC’s fall vegetable and culinary herb gardens. Johanna’s personal project was to lead a tour of the ABC gardens for her peers in the American YouthWorks program.

Rupa Vasan learned about ABC when a friend suggested a tour of ABC’s gardens. She looked for ABC on the Internet and was surprised to learn about its internship program. During her subsequent garden tour, Rupa was intrigued when she learned about ABC’s ongoing projects and educational opportunities. Rupa is a pre-nursing student at the University of Texas at Austin with an interest in integrating alternative medicine into her future career. Her goal at ABC is to learn as much as she can about the uses of medicinal herbs and the part they play or could play in medicine. She is working on a long-term research and writing project for ABC and a personal project involving herbs specifically helpful in the treatment of osteoporosis and other conditions of the skeletal system.

The American Botanical Council views its internship program as a primary means to achieve its mission of educating the public on science-based and traditional information that promotes the responsible use of herbal medicine. For more information on applying for an internship in the areas of health care, journalism, marketing, and public relations, please send e-mail to the American Botanical Council.