It is an honor to share the impact of our college interns. We’ve had the utmost pleasure working with these students. Going forward, with their permission, we will be shining a spotlight on these exceptional young people: 

Spotlight: Maryville College intern Hayley Gorham Harmon

“Hayley is in her third semester of interning with Rocky Park Farm; her loyalty and work ethic cannot be overstated. We love her enthusiasm. Hayley’s helpful recruitment of new interns have been invaluable. As with other interns, she has become “family” to Phyllis and me. We are excited about Hayley’s future but know she will be sorely missed.” – Owner, Jim Kirksey

Hayley Gorham Harmon hails from Harrison, Ohio, and is a Maryville College senior with a double major in Biology and Environmental Studies, plus a double minor in Sustainability Studies & Environmental Sciences. Dr. Drew Crain approached her for a garden internship in the fall of 2021. Hayley was then led to an internship at RPF and splitting time between campus and the farm. It appealed to her for several reasons but mostly since it allowed her to spend time outside instead of in a lab or office. 

When asked what the highlight of this internship has been, she stated the lasting relationships she has built with the Kirksey’s and other interns. There were times when being at the farm was the highlight of her day. Second to building relationships is the real-life experience of how to utilize sustainable agriculture methods to grow food. “There’s a massive difference between learning about concepts and theories in a classroom vs. practicing them yourself, and I’ve been able to do that for 3 semesters,” she elaborated. 

Maryville College internships build relationships

Hayley stated that she would absolutely encourage other students to intern at RPF. Being able to observe and practice so many different methods of growing food (traditional fields, unheated greenhouses, heated greenhouses, aquaponics, etc.), and learning to grow such a wide variety of crops, has been an invaluable hands-on experience. The sheer variety of what Rocky Park Farm offers provides so much opportunity for learning and research that you wouldn’t be able to get in other settings. Also, it’s fun! It can be a great way to get outside, get movement in, and socialize. 

Future plans

After graduating from Maryville College, Hayley plans to take a gap year. Her husband is in the Army and plans to re-enlist so they aren’t certain at which base they’ll end up. “I plan to travel, then begin my career once the dust settles and know we’ll be residing somewhere for an extended period. At some point we’ll return the Knoxville area for good. At that point I hope to work in the environmental sector in either public policy, land management or environmental compliance.” She added, “I have greatly enjoyed my time at Rocky Park Farm and will miss it so much after I graduate.” 

Hayley shared that the RPF internship provided her with so much knowledge of agriculture. Knowledge she would like to use to implement wider-scale changes, encouraging more local farming and community food security. “The projects I’ve taken on during this internship, such as the composting partnership between RPF, MC, and Metz Food Services, have boosted my confidence in my ability to find practical solutions to issues.”

The Rocky Park Farm staff wishes Hayley, and her husband, all the best for their future!