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Abbi’s Internship Experience

For as long as I can remember, I’ve cared deeply about sustainability and environmental conservation. Growing up, I even had a birthday party at a conservatory and additionally have worked at farmers markets since I was twelve, so the excitement I felt after accepting an intern position at Plant Chicago came as no surprise to me. What did come as a surprise however, was the amount I would learn, the welcome and comfort I felt around the lively people that worked there and especially the extent to which I would become involved. I feel I really got a taste of it all.

At the start of my internship, a good amount of time was spent working to increase the efficiency of the bio briquette building process which helps advance The Plant’s closed-circuit economy. The bio bricks are made from a mix of spent grain from Whiner Beer’s and coffee chaff, a byproduct from the roasting process, from Four Letter Word. This combination is used to make bricks that in the future will burn in Pleasant House Bread’s ovens in place of wood.

While interning at The Plant, I participated in a Food Matters instructor workshop. Down the line, there was a visit to a local elementary school where I helped facilitate a food demonstration for the students there. I took advantage of an opportunity to visit a largescale water reclamation facility with the team to learn all about the ways in which Chicago’s wastewater is processed. On a more typical day, I conducted water testing and carried out general farm maintenance such as tending to the plants, fish and chickens. My main task while with Plant Chicago was creating educational signage for future use on the farm.


I had a pretty substantial head start on this project as the design studio, Firebelly, had already provided The Plant with exquisitely designed letter-sized flyer templates for events that fit right in with the rest of the branding they’d done for Plant Chicago. I then worked to adapt the template into various sizes for print.  I modified the new templates to best portray the content necessary for each given format.

In order to make the posters more dynamic I created a few different variations. I also made minor tweaks and adjustments so that content fits appropriately in each given template. The new designs all stayed within Plant Chicago’s branding guidelines and allowed for the use of corresponding iconography depending on the content to be implemented.


During my undergraduate studies, I hopped a bit between majors in Art and Environmental Science. Getting to work at Plant Chicago was not only a tremendous opportunity in and of itself, but additionally was a truly great way to enforce and meld these two interests during my last semester before earning my degree in Graphic Design.

If I had to boil my experience down to just one word I would choose exposure. I feel that while with Plant Chicago I was exposed to so very much: closed-circuit economies, learning more in depth about aquaponics itself, applying my design skills to scientific subject matter and even visiting parts of the city I’d never truly explored.

Plant Chicago is an organization that proves it’s not only possible, but arguably even ideal for companies to model themselves in such a way where they can practice closed-circuit economies. This way, they as a business, as well as the earth itself can better feel the benefits of a more sustainable way of life.

Click the link below to view my portfolio and see what else I’ve been up to.

Note from Eric: Abbi’s work has been put to good use, and you can now see signage in our spaces using the templates she designed, with new signage going up all the time.


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