I came to Haas with a background in environmental nonprofit work, a passion for food, and a desire to find a role where I could have a strong impact in improving the food system. Now, in the second half of my first year, I am Co-President of the Culinary Club and VP of Sustainable Agriculture and Food for the Net Impact Club. These leadership positions give me a strong platform to interact with companies and give myself and other students an inside view on what is happening locally in the food industry.
A few weeks ago, I organized a trek for eight Haas students to spend an afternoon with the founders and staff of AgLocal, a tech startup that connects sustainable meat producers with chefs and restaurants. AgLocal is a great representation of what the Bay Area has to offer – cutting-edge technology, an entrepreneurial culture, a love of food, and a strong commitment to responsible business.
On our trek to AgLocal, the founder, Naithan Jones, walked us through how and why he started the company. His team shared the opportunities and challenges they have faced since launching and candidly shared stories of the mistakes they’ve made. They asked for our input and engaged us in a meaningful discussion about a pivot they’re making as a company. We were also able to see the co-working space they share with other startups, giving us more of a sense of what it’s like to work for a new tech company.
Being a student and club leader at Haas has given me significant access to companies I’m interested in networking with as well as space to focus on the skills I want to develop. In addition to treks, the Culinary Club organizes potlucks, food outings (taco truck tour, anyone?), cooking classes (Rollin’ with my Homies, a lesson in Vietnamese Rolls), as well as “Haas Mystery Meets” that enable Haasies and other grad students to get to know each other better. The Net Impact Club connects students with a variety of socially responsible businesses through internship opportunities and treks, the Net Impact Conference, and a variety of events to meet alumni and students at other schools interested in social responsibility.
Contributed by Julia Silbergeld on March 3, 2014