Elon student secures prestigious internship in Italy

Colby Halligan '15 travels to Europe this summer as one of the youngest students ever selected for a program that gives hands-on experience in organic farming while learning a foreign language.

Elon University junior Colby Halligan
An Elon University junior will spend her summer in Italy working on an organic farm in Tuscany through the Spannocchia Foundation, an organization focused on natural resource conservation, sustainable agriculture and global dialogue.

Colby Halligan was named a recipient of the 2014 Spannocchia Internship, which gives young adults the chance to gain hands-on experience on an 1,100-acre estate. Interns work alongside seasoned staff, performing more than 30 hours of manual labor each week while studying Italian and participating in educational presentations and field trips. 

More than 250 applicants from around the world vied for the seven available spots. The average age of interns is 25; Halligan is one of the youngest interns ever selected for the honor.

Halligan is an environmental studies and public health double major. She is a member of the Periclean Scholars Class of 2015, a Susan Scholar receipient in the Watson and Odyssey Program, and a member of Omicron Delta Kappa leadership honor society. She recently returned from a semester in Kenya and Tanzania through the nonprofit School for Field Studies.

A volunteer at Loy Farm and an intern with Grow Biointensive, a non-profit aimed at supplying third world communities with sustainable agricultural systems, Halligan said she sees Spannocchia as an additional way of expanding her understanding of global eco-systems and agriculture.  

“By interning on a vegetable garden and vineyard for 9 hours a day for 3 consecutive months, I hope to learn more about conservation methods that reduce soil depravity and nutrient degradation,” she said. “This opportunity will provide me with the tools to develop nutrition plans for malnourished communities.” 

Halligan ultimately intends to pursue a master’s in public health with a concentration in global nutrition. 

“By supplying optimal crop nutrition through the development of diet-plot farm designs, I hope to utilize sustainable agriculture techniques to protect the environmental integrity of preexisting farms as well as supply malnourished communities with a sustainable source of food,” she said. “By conserving natural resources, I will simultaneously assist in reversing the negative effects of environmental degradation and food insecurity.”

Halligan is the daughter of David Halligan of Manchester Village, Vt.

– Information submitted by Meredith Malburne-Wade, associate director of National and International Fellowships at Elon University

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