Alumna Traveled the World as a Student – Now She’s Back on Campus as a Professional
By: Nick Santangelo
Fall is here! Summer may not officially be over for another three weeks, but Labor Day has come and gone, and the fall semester is in full swing. That means it’s time for pumpkins, ghosts and harvesting. Throughout the fall, Temple University and The Food Trust will continue holding a weekly farmer’s market on campus every Thursday through November 14.
Sustainability and Food Insecurity
And when students stop by the farmer’s market, they may just bump into Autumn Lukomski-La Police, CLA ’19. The former anthropology major who transferred to Temple her junior year from Bucks County Community College has worked as The Food Trust’s Market Manager since graduating in May. Lukomski-La Police’s role there sees her working as a liaison between employees at the organization’s headquarters and those working in the field at farmers’ markets. She looks for ways to improve the markets and sorts out their logistics while providing resources for the customer shopping experience.
A one-time environmental studies minor, Lukomski-La Police first discovered The Food Trust through Temple’s Office of Sustainability. Although she ended up dropping the minor, the CLA alumna says environmental sustainability issues are very important to her.
Lukomski-La Police’s capstone project created an ethnographic study of community gardens in Philadelphia, and she spent some time working with members of Temple's community garden at Broad and Diamond Streets. The garden promoted sustainability, food access, health and community, all of which are important issues to The Food Trust.
“People at The Food Trust are very interested in the nutrition aspects and everything like that, and also addressing students' food insecurity, which are all really important things,” explains Lukomski-La Police. “But I also think that there's the sustainability perspective that comes into play. And that's something that really drew me to it, to be able to work with farmers and in a sort of more sustainable agricultural process.”
Real World Experiences
Lukomski-La Police adds that while she didn’t purposely seek out a nonprofit job, she’s glad things worked out that way. Having previously worked at for-profit companies, she immediately saw a difference in attitudes and operations between the two.
There’s also a pretty direct line to be drawn from an internship Lukomski-La Police had as a CLA student and her current job.
“Last summer, I interned at Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve, which is another nonprofit organization,” she says. “And my work there was kind of different, but I think that it was helpful in a lot of ways because I helped with a lot of environmental education programs.
“And so with those I was really getting a lot of experience with facilitating different things, talking to people and providing resources about the preserve. I also think that from an environmental sustainability standpoint, there was overlap in that. And then also it was in the nonprofit sector, so that helped me gain experience in that.”
Interning wasn’t Lukomski-La Police’s only experiential learning as a CLA student, either. When choosing a university to transfer into from community college, the ability to travel abroad was one of the deciding factors. Temple’s Rome campus caught her attention, and Lukomski-La Police ended up spending the fall of her senior year there.
“It was a great opportunity, as an anthropology student, just to be able to travel somewhere else and get to experience that. And I felt like outside of coursework and everything like that, it was just this time where living sort of going about my daily life—it brought up a lot of questions and different things. And I think it just led me to contemplate a lot of things related to language and the ways that people communicate and the ways they live and other things that were really interesting to me.”
There and Back Again
Though she traveled to another part of the world as a student, Lukomski-La Police is now right back here in North Philly for the weekly farmer’s market. She thinks it’s a great opportunity to give urban residents from the surrounding community the chance to see what’s fresh and local and talk about the growing process. It also gives the alumna a chance to look for some familiar faces.
“I get to recognize some people with students returning for the fall semester because I still have a bunch of friends that are in school. So I'm hoping that I'll get people to come over and visit at the farmer's market, and maybe I'll run into some of my old professors too.”