Name: Christina Geldert
Year: Senior at California Lutheran University
Pursuing: Veterinary Sciences
"Garden Folk" SEED Farm Stand Spring 2014 - Christina Geldert
Christina Geldert found California Lutheran University when she was on her way to visit other Universities of Southern California. She fell in love with the small and private school when she went on a campus tour with her family. After four years of hard work, Christina will be graduating this year, with a degree in biology.
I asked Christina what exactly about the CLU campus and the school atmosphere captivated her enough to make California Lutheran University her final decision. In short, "Why CLU?" Christina responded, "I remember thinking, we were passing by, so why not take a campus tour? I loved how the people were waving and smiling. I liked the feel of Southern California so I applied and made a pros and cons list. I ended up choosing CLU because it is such a small and private school. I thought, I would be much more focused in a small class than in a class of say, three hundred people."
Being so close to the finish line, I felt it was only right, to ask Christina about her most valuable experiences at CLU. I wanted to know what she felt CLU had given her in terms of learning, emotional, and personal growth experiences. Most of the benefits came from one factor, she says, which was the school size. "If I had gone to a big school I would have been shuffled along with the other hundreds of vet students. Since I was able to come here I was able to figure things out."
I felt like she appreciated the sense of individuality that CLU can give a student by being one of fifteen in a classroom. "Now everyone can know me as the girl that works at the SEED Garden. This sort of personal interactions can give you more connections, and you get to know your professors so well." Christina not only became part of the SEED Garden during her years at CLU, she also was adventurous enough to study abroad in New Zealand and continue other journeys in places like Haiti.
"Bee Research" Undergraduate Research Program 2015 - Christina Geldert
She decided to study biology to become a veterinarian because, as all children, Christina wanted to be a vet. Unlike most kids, however, Christina simply stuck to this idea, she never wanted to be anything else. She continued to pursue this path and as University approached she said, "I knew what I wanted to be and I knew it was going to be hard to be a vet. Originally I was a Biochemistry major but I noticed that I did not need to take so much chemistry."
Now that she has completed almost all of her studies, I asked her if there was one message she would like to give to incoming CLU students interested in becoming a vet, what would that be? She responded, "Do the research early. In terms of what kind of vet you want to be, what courses you have to take, what research you want to do and if you want to do things like study abroad. Make a plan and stick with it. Commit through."
Her favorite spot on campus, as I expected it to be, is the SEED Garden! Her freshman year, in 2012, Christina glanced at the SEED Garden on her way to the CLU rocks. She was surprised at the sight of the students working and growing the leafy greens. Soon enough, she investigated how to get involved in volunteering and her Monday afternoons consisted of that.
"I was nervous and I didn't know if it was a selection process or something of the sort but when I got there, there where just two people there. I learned my way around soon enough." Christina then became much more than a volunteer at the garden, she started their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/groups/CLUGarden/ and created some flyers. After many dedicated years, Christina knows the garden like the back of her hand and has taken various clubs and classes out there.
"Taranaki" at Taranaki National Park in New Zealand 2015 - Christina Geldert
Her Campus: What is the main goal of the SEED Garden?
Christina Geldert: SEED (sustainable environmental edible education) aims to educate the people about what we eat and how to make it sustainable. The hardest part to overcome is getting people out there, we are all busy. If people are not going to the gym, they don't go to the garden. Now we've been getting out classes and clubs so volunteering days are a lot better. We have food stands and we mostly aim to make people realize that it's not that hard. Even though I'm not an environmental major the fact that I can make time to volunteer makes people realize it’s doable and hopefully people can learn that it's a trial and error experience.
HC: What is your role in the SEED Garden?
CG: Now I'm mostly the manager, because of my two other jobs and because I'm trying to get my units done. I have taken that role because I like letting the students get out there and do the labor role of digging, it's what they most like to do too. I have been mostly in charge of making sure the garden gets the resources. I've been called the “Senior Garden Manager” before.
HC: What does the SEED Garden offer the campus?
CG: The space in general is undervalued. It gets you away from the hassle of classes. It’s such a peaceful place. People can come out and do their homework. Kind of like "The Abundant Table," people can have their religious or church seminars there. Their is a sacredness of the space that is undervalued, like doing something different every day. You don't garden everyday. You can go out there and try something new.
- Food Stands Offers: Carrots, leafy greens (like kale and chard), mustard greens, beets, onions, garlic, tomatoes, herbs (like rosemary, sage, and oregano), eggplant, zucchini, and so many other things. We have honey at least once year. We don't want to take it from the bees too often because they need it too!
HC: What has been the biggest milestones of the garden (moments you’re most proud of)?
CG: The Campus Compost! Which we started with coffee beans from the Centrum to actual food scraps. We finally got a greenhouse built my sophomore year in Spring 2014. It used to be really hard because we essentially had a wagon type of greenhouse so that was really nice when we got one made. When we got the greenhouse we redid how the rows were set up. We sort of restarted the soil, we redistribute the nutrients. We also got the chickens and the bees!
HC: How did the Bee Project get started?
CG: It was in Spring 2013 when my professor mentioned the bee idea and I was totally on board! I was never been particularly afraid of bees and we did a little bit of research and thought 'Oh yeah, we're doing this.' We got the suits and we thought, 'Oh yeah, we got this.' We got the bees and then we thought, 'Oh. We really actually have to handle this.'
HC: Describe Colony Collapse Disorder in short!
CG: Terrifying but fixable! It’s really scary and we need to realize that it’s scary, but it's human made and that means we can fix it. Just like climate change, it’s all intertwined.
HC: What are your thoughts as you conclude these four years at CLU?
CG: I'm overwhelmed with all the things I’m busy with, but I am really excited about them. Knowing that I really like all the things I’m busy with helps me get through the stress. I know that I'm enjoying all the things I'm currently trying to handle. I'm forty days away from graduation. I'm just enjoying it all!
"Service Trip" taken in Haiti 2014 - Christina Geldert