Demeter supports CALS undergraduate academic and professional development

The keystone of Demeter’s mission is providing support for undergraduate students in CALS. During the 2023-24 academic year, Demeter provided $9,000 as partial support for three internships and $4,000 to assist members of seven student organizations participate in educational activities.

Interns during summer 2023 were recruited and selected by staff at Allen Centennial Garden and the Agricultural Research Stations at West Madison and Arlington.

Pearl Pincus, a sophomore in wildlife ecology, was the Education and Programs intern at Allen Garden under supervision of Director Reba Luiken. Pearl prepared and installed new interpretive signs throughout the garden to highlight individual plants and garden spaces. She also helped plan and facilitate many events in the garden including Grandparents University.

From left: Melissa Konkel, Demeter AWA Scholarship; Sophia Green, Demeter AWA Scholarship; Courtney Cameron Meeks, Plant Sciences Grad Student Council; and Ella Kohler-Washatko, West Madison ARS intern.

Ella Kohler-Washatko, a junior in horticulture, interned at the at West Madison Display Gardens under Director Janet Hedtke. Each month, Ella evaluated the growth, health, uniformity, fullness and other characteristics of hundreds of annual plant varieties. She presented a summary of her findings to Commercial Flower Growers of Wisconsin.

Arlington ARS intern, Allyson Harbridge, was a May 2023 graduate in animal sciences. Her project was supervised by Caleb Karls, Research Program Manager in the beef and sheep units. Allyson collected growth and health data for a nutrition trial involving 63 dairy-beef calves. In addition, she shadowed and assisted the research veterinarians with cattle, sheep and swine care.

Alison Duff, research ecologist at US Dairy Forage Research Center, communicates with internship participants on behalf of Demeter.

Demeter’s grants to student organizations help with the costs of participating in regional or national competitions, symposiums, or conferences. The organizations supported by Demeter this year are Agricultural and Biological Engineering Student Chapter, Badger Crops Club, Food Science Club, National Agri-Marketing Association, Plant Sciences Graduate Student Council, Pre-Veterinary Association and Wildlife Society. Grant opportunities were announced last January, and awardees were selected in April. Emeritus Professor David Thomas, animal and dairy sciences, coordinates Demeter’s grant program.

New among Demeter’s offerings this year is the Douglas and Martha Maxwell Research Award for a student doing research on plants or microbes. This year, Veronica Munguia, a senior in microbiology, is conducting research on bacteriophages in the laboratory of Professor Charlie Mo.

Awards were funded from donations by Demeter members. Demeter’s aim is to continue growing its membership and support for CALS students. To learn more, visit