Growing Healthier Communities

Mackenzie Johnson '16

Photo courtesy of Mackenzie Johnson '16.

Mackenzie Johnson ’16

Don’t know what a fiddlehead is? Not sure how to whip up a delicious batch of kohlrabi? Mackenzie Johnson ’16 can help. As a volunteer at Dickinson's College Farm, Mackenzie is learning to grow, harvest and prepare organic produce. She teaches some of what she's learned to children as a summer 2014 student worker at Camp DIG, an outdoor education camp at the College Farm, and as the 2014-15 student leader of the Farm, Cook, Eat outreach program. “These programs tie together everything I’m passionate about, and it’s nice to be able to share it with younger students,” she says. Learn how this Wheel & Chain member also helped local migrant workers live more healthfully, how she hoped to challenge stereotypes as a kid and what her ideal job would be.



Spanish and policy management.


Clubs and organizations:


Dickinson College Farm (student volunteer), Farm, Cook, Eat (2014-15 student director), the Treehouse (Center for Sustainable Living), Multilingual Writing Center, SEED and PERC.

Favorite book:

East of Eden by John Steinbeck.

Favorite movie:

Pretty in Pink.


As a kid, I wanted to be …

Although my ideal profession changed frequently, I spent a good deal of time wanting to be a mechanic. The idea of challenging norms and taking on a traditionally masculine profession appealed to me.

Favorite class:

A service-learning course, Spanish for the Health Professions. I was able to learn skills that I would later use at a health clinic for migrant workers in Gettysburg. Each week I spent a few hours at the clinic, translating for Spanish-speaking patients and English-speaking doctors. I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to expand my understanding of my community, to learn from people from different cultures and to fill a need. It also was immensely valuable in helping me learn Spanish.


Favorite place on campus:

The Treehouse.

Favorite Dining Hall food:

Roasted carrots from the College Farm.

On choosing a major:

I first intended to double major in Spanish and international business & management, but after taking my first business class I began to question if it was the right choice for me. I found myself drawn to every environmentally related club on campus, and one day, while I was volunteering at the College Farm, a friend asked me why I didn’t choose a major that focused on my beliefs and passions. After much consideration, I switched my major to policy management, so I could one day work on changing domestic agricultural and environmental policies for the greater good.

If I could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, it would be …

… Miguel Altieri, an agroecologist who advocates for sustainable agriculture throughout Central and South America to maintain cultural traditions. I heard him speak at the annual Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) conference and admired his work and vision.

Post-Dickinson plans:

There are so many things I can see myself doing. Some days I see myself heading to D.C. to work for groups lobbying for government support of sustainable agriculture. Other days I see myself volunteering through the Peace Corps. But wherever I end up, I will work toward helping in my community and benefiting the environment. Ideally, I will spend some time outside.

Learn more 



Published June 3, 2014