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Internships at Tillers International

Lister Planter
Building Skills for Rural Development


Interns at Tillers experience work in sustainable agriculture, rural development, historical interpretation, and organizational operations. Interns receive practical training from artisans, farmers, and international students in a range of skills relating to small-scale farming, research, rural enterprises, and training.


In exchange for these learning opportunities, interns are expected to do farm work, to assist in teaching skills to shorter-term guests, to assist in developing training materials, and to assist with organizational and guest support.



Work Activities


Each year, Tillers invites three to six interns to help in farm, shop, and organizational work for a duration of three to nine months. While paid a modest stipend, most intern compensation is the opportunity to learn rare skills. On a daily basis, interns participate in the farming activities of the season. This gives them practice in working with draft animals and using farm machinery. They plant, cultivate, and harvest a rotation of crops, and learn many associated sInterns Mowing Hay with Oxenkills, such as woodworking, blacksmithing, and gardening. These activities create an understanding and empathy for the work demands of farmers and crafts people.


In the woodshop, interns learn to shape ox yokes, bend bows, and do joinery for timber frames. In the fields, they drive oxen and horses in tasks from manure spreading and soil preparation to logging. After the internship, many have gone on to work on overseas projects. Others work on small farms or at historical sites. Interns are encouraged to develop individual projects in sustainable agriculture, rural development, or related fields. Some interns receive university credit. Unpaid, part-time internships may also be available.



Background and Experience


Tillers invites applicants from a variety of backgrounds, especially students of international development, animal science, agriculture, engineering, history, economics, anthropology, and museum studies. We also welcome applicants from farms and development agents. We are interested in educational skills, photography, historical collections, and computer applications, as well as knowledge of crops, animals, woodworking, and mechanics. Of course, we do not expect to find all these skills in one applicant. Preference is given to candidates who will be able to apply the skills and knowledge gained at Tillers in their future work.


With the many opportunities for learning, interns with initiative and enough practical or international experience to ask questions gain the most from work at Tillers. Interns must be able to communicate ideas, to work without close supervision, and to cooperate with co-workers. Interns are expected to work with flexibility for weekend activities and seasonal farm activities. Due to the farm work required, interns should be able to lift 50 pounds reInterns Study a Cultivatorpeatedly without problems and be in adequate physical condition to work long days in the fields. While much of the work is physical, it is generally enjoyable.



Terms and Support


The focus of the internship program is on the growing season of March to November. We prefer applicants who are available for the entire period and thus can build on the progression of farm activities. However, we will consider anyone available for at least 12 weeks (Other workshops, special trainings, and volunteer programs are available for shorter periods). Only two paid internships are available each year, plus additional sponsored or volunteer interns. International experience and plans are considered heavily in selecting candidates for paid internships.


On-farm rooms with shared facilities are available for $50 per week. Rooms Interns with Tillers' Belgiansmay need to be shared at times. Food is not provided, though garden produce and eggs may be available in season.



Other Options


Individuals with considerable expertise in the use of animal power in international agriculture are encouraged to ask for more information about Tillers' Fellows Program. Fellows are given short-term support, but must be capable of instructing and writing on relevant technical topics.


Individuals with limited time may be willing to participate in our resident volunteer program. If you are available for less than 12 weeks, but more than two weeks, we will be pleased to discuss a work/study program with housing and garden privileges.


Tillers internships often attract more good applicants than there are openings. If this type of training is critical to you for overseas work, consider approaching an international agency or your church to sponsor an internship. Perhaps you can initiate an important new partnership project with Tillers.



Applying for a Tillers Internship


To apply for an internship, submit a letter explaining your interest in Tillers, your skills and how Tillers might contribute to your future plans, the time period during which you are available (and by when you need to know of your acceptance), and a resume with two references with addresses and phone numbers. For more information call Tillers at (800) 498-2700. Early application is advised. If at all possible, we prefer to interview applicants in person or by phone.Stacking hay in the Springhill Barn


Applicants for paid internships must be U.S. citizens or have visa status authorizing work for pay, such as "practical training" related to a student visa.




Mail applications to:

Tillers International

Attn: Internship Application

10515 OP Ave E

Scotts, MI 49088 USA



2010 Interns

Zacarias Robsene Machengua, Trainee, Mozambique

Bernard Cook, Georgia

Josh Greenman, Argentina et al

Meredith Bridges, Georgia

Sarah Scheub

Anna Dirkse, Michigan

Jesse McMahon, Ohio

Katya, Russia

Biruh Zegeye, Ethiopia

Bitijula Ahadi Christian, Congo

Angela Ospina, EARTH University, Costa Rica

2009 Interns
Intern Brett Sheppard

Brett Sheppard, Texas

"A couple of years back, I left the well-intentioned but slow-moving world of environmental non-profits in our nation's lovely capital for training in a much smaller scale, hands-on environment in which I thought I'd be better able to put to practice my beliefs surrounding ecology and the way food is raised. My migratory path landed me last year in the beautiful hills and bluffs of southwestern Wisconsin (aka the Driftless Region), where I first learned of Tillers through classes offered at DreamAcres Farm. The brief time I spent working the land had me thinking about the power sources used in fields, and the benefits of working with draft animals instead of or in conjunction with tractors to build a more closed-loop system, establish a more measured peace and farm culture, and the resulting environmental and biological benefits. In the end, a season at Tillers seemed the very best way to gain an introductory experience in that style of farming, as well as a number of complementary disciplines.


Whereas my initial interest in Tillers was the culmination of my most recent pursuit of small-scale farming in the States, the applicaton process for the internship position has reinvigorated a deep-seated interest in working with peoples of developing nations. Prior to my time in DC, I received formal education in Natural Resources and Sustainable Development, and spent time working and learning in Bolivia and Costa Rica. A life spent working in that part of the world was my motive and grand scheme then, but once back in the States I was (constantly) reminded of the fight that remains here. I'm not sure where the training I'll receive here at Tillers will lead--what skills, talents, or interests might be unearthed to draw me in one direction or another--but it should be fun to find out."


Intern Alexis Della Costa

Alexis Della Costa, New York

"While a Western Michigan native, I have spent the past eight years living, working, adn attending college in New York. While working on a BA in Art History, I found myself traveling to post-Katrina New Orleans and spending several months doing storm clean up and renovations. This experience caused me to move my life in an entirely different direction.


While at Tillers, I hope to learn skills useful overseas in the realms of aid and development. I plan to join the Peace Corps following my internship and then attend graduate school for a degree in a similar field.


Since starting my internship, I have developed a soft spot for the oxen and am excited to have more contact with them. I have also been able to utilize past experiences whie helping with carpentry and architectural salvage projects."


Intern Will Manty

Will Manty, Michigan

"While still in college a couple years ago, a professor had been encouraging me to get involved with this place called Tillers. Before long, she brought me out to the farm with a class, and I experienced firsthand the uniqueness of this place she had been telling me all about. It was winter then, and the class was going to stay inside and watch a movie about pioneering life on the American frontier. Luckily I had already seen the movie, so I was granted permission to do something far more enjoyable: splitting wood. While the movie ran, I stayed out in the falling snow, bucking up logs, splitting the sections with a maul, and stacking them for the cold days to come. It felt so good to be out of the classroom and work with my body again, but I knew there was something more that appealed to me. It was not just the physical work, but working in an environment that valued ideals and was devoted to a global vision of prosperity. Thus started what I knew would become a more lasting relationship with Tillers.

What brought me to Tillers for an internship was the opportunity to learn about technologies and farming methods on a scale that makes more sense to me. Draft power and the artisan crafts like blacksmithing and woodworking were major draws. I've always looked for work that appealed to my senses as well as my mind, and the skills to be learned here require getting a feel for things, which is something I find very gratifying. I hope to apply these skills to a land-based life and livelihood here, or possibly abroad. Last year I apprenticed on a vegetable CSA and dairy farm in New York where I got my first experience farming. Before that I was a trail worker in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Through it all I was studying anthropology and environmental studies in school, which I can see now was mostly driven by an interest in justice for the earth and the desire to live the "good life" on it. These two ideals are what Tillers International represents to me. It is an organization founded on the goals of living more simply, wisely, justly, and well. I am very happy to finally be here."


Intern Elijah Massey

Elijah Massey, Wyoming

"Born and raised in Wyoming, I am extremely fortunate to have spent a significant part of my existence living and traveling internationally, due to the importance my parents placed on instilling knowledge of the diversity of peoples, cultures, and histories that collectively form and inform our shared humanity. Intertwined with my growing appreciation of the wealth of culture and human experience, I developed an awareness of the various inequalities and exploitative activities that divide both individuals and societies. The scale and scope of such inequality is daunting when addressed on any level, but when confronted in its global manifestations, they become abstracted from the human scale, and thus seem largely irreconcilable through the activity of any individual agency.

Accordingly, my attention and effort turned toward my immediate surroundings and relationships. While studying in various Asian countries I became interested in small-scale, community-based agriculture as a source of social and economic strength from which to address and begin to resolve many of the inequalities I perceive. Consequently, I began working on farms in this country in an effort to gain knowledge and skills which I hope to apply in localized efforts to reduce individuals' and communities' dependence and participation in some of the larger and less tangible processes of economic and social inequality and dependence that persist both domestically and internationally. Wendell Berry has written that, "...one cannot become, in the easy, generalizing sense with which the phrase is commonly used, a 'world citizen' ...No matter how much one may love the world as a whole, one can live fully in it only by living responsibly in some small part of it."

It is with the intention of cultivating such responsibility that I am interning at Tillers this season, with the aim of synthesizing my international interests and aspirations with my tangible experience of localized effectiveness. I am confident that through hard work, shared curiosity and innovation, and a celebration of humanity's inherent variation and fundamental equality, we will persevere in the effort to help all its members share a basic quality of existence, one small part at a time."


Intern Bobby Walden

Bobby Walden

"During the first semester of my senior year at Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vermont, I was enrolled in a course entitled 'The History and Applications of Oxen in Agriculture.' Taking such a course for college credit may seem unreal to many people, but at the small liberal-arts college that I attended, students have the opportunity to work on the campus’s small farm of about 20 acres. Much of the land in this allotment is given to pasture and hay fields for the farm’s livestock. The farm is home to a full-grown team of Guernsey oxen that help with a variety of tasks. In addition, for the sake of the course, the farm purchased two American Milking Devon calves that we began to train, to gain experience in training animals to work from the time they are young. Building on skills and interest that I held prior to taking the class, and discovering additional interests as well, led to my consideration of the course, overall, as one of the most fulfilling learning experiences of my life.

I had the good fortune of meeting and working with Dick on our farm at school about half-way through the course. The manager of the school farm, Kenneth Mulder, is affiliated with Tillers through volunteer work and classes, and so arranged for Dick to spend some time with the class participants on the farm, in the classroom, and during a presentation to the campus-wide community. My contact with Dick and the insight he contributed to the class curriculum proved instrumental in my success in the course. Prior our meeting, also, I had not considered the value of animal traction as an integral facet of agricultural production in developing countries. My interest in draft animals has increased exponentially ever since. I began to explore the idea of pursuing an internship with Tillers in hopes that more work with animal power would give me some direction as I worked to develop a knowledge base on sustainable agriculture.

I desired to come to Tillers mainly to gain further contact with draft animal power. The unique combination of the oxen, work horses, and some mechanized equipment was my main draw here. And, did I get what I needed. I have been immersed in opportunity from the moment I arrived. I have had more than a few chances to get experience in all sorts of field work. I shaped the beam and forged the hardware for a training yoke. We have traveled several times as a group, representing the organization and participating in educational events around the region. I cannot possibly list  the entire variety of skills I have had time to work on here that have expanded my interests and exceeded my expectations in terms of inspiring me to become more learned and more capable. It has been an amazing experience, and has prepared me well to seek out further experiences in agricultural systems that embrace affordable technology and proper stewardship of the earth and its inhabitants."


Asher Lober, California

The younger face among the Tillers interns in 2009 belonged to Asher Lober, who ventured out to Michigan from Southern California. While in high school, Asher developed an interest in the cause of rural development. Unfortunately, the population dense suburb of Los Angeles in which he lived provided little opportunity for the study of that subject in anything other than a theoretical manner. But, soon after arriving at Tillers International, the reins were placed in his hands, and he was able to redirect his education down a learning pathway based on direct experience.

In the immediate future, Asher will continue east to start studying at the University of Vermont. There he hopes to actively share the knowledge he acquires while working at Tillers. In particular, he plans to promote the use of animal traction as the primary means of power on the student farm.

Asher is also actively training to compete as a college athlete, running long-distances on both the cross country and track teams. Since he must run each evening, his daily toil did not end when farm chores finished. Although he found this combined workload exhausting, he knew that it had a lot to teach him. As a long term goal, Asher hopes to work in the field of community development both domestically and internationally. Though he desires to take on a role as an educator, at present his focus is on learning all he can from those spending time at Tillers.   


Trainee Candido Cumbane

Candido Cumbane, Trainee, Mozambique

"I have been working with Land O'Lakes partnership with Tillers International for more than four months on the Food for Progress project. The project is implemented by the two organizations in the Manica province of Mozambique, where I live with my wife and new-born daughter.


Tillers International is working to implement animal traction on small farms in Mozambique, and I have taken on the role of animal traction extension officer. To improve my knowledge and experience, Tillers has provided me with the opportunity to learn more about animal traction at the learning center in Michigan so that I can better those in Manica  province. I arrived over a month ago and only have one month left but still have much to learn.


The training, which started in June, focuses on blacksmithing, woodworking, draft animal care and use, as well as general farm management. All of this knowledge has many applications back at home.


Mozambique is attempting to develop out of the state of disruption that came about with the 15 year long civil war. Conditions are improving, but right now, many people are dying of AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis. Many of the deceased leave their children without food, accommodations, or a chance for the future. Hopefully, I can share my experiences with these orphans, and  in that way, help them build the future they did not inherit.


Also, I plan to make myself available to farmers throughout Manica province who are looking to promote greater food security in the region.


Over time, I hope to help students of institutions and universities take on positions as agricultural extension agents. In this way the skills shared by Tillers International can be disseminated. Maybe then, the people of Manica province can improve their productivity and consequently quality of life.


For all this information and experience, I would like to thank the entire team of Tillers International, especially Mr. Roosenberg, who made all this possible."


Kudzie Chinyamunzore, Zimbabwe (via Kalamazoo College)

"My name is Kudzanai Chinyamunzore, and I was born in 1987 in a town called Mutare, found in the eastern part of Zimbabwe. I am the first born of two brothers. I lost my father at the age of nine and have been raised by my mother. She was able to send me to a rather expensive boarding school, therefore I did my part to work harder academically.

Growing up in a country with the highest inflation rate, the highest unemployment and shortage of food, I had a passion to do agriculture. Through much encouragement from my mother, I made a good decision. I went to Africa University, where I got into the faculty of Agriculture and Natural Resources and continued to work hard. This led to my nomination to study at Kalamazoo College in Michigan.

After my academic year I decided to do my internship with Tillers International because its Mission represents a way to reduce food shortage in poor countries like mine. By learning how to drive oxen, farmers will not depend much on tractors and other implements which are costly, the fuel for which is often unavailable. In addition, using old low-tech methods of farming helps to reduce pollution is cheaper, which makes food production more accessible for people in developing countries. I have always thought that, instead of sending aid (food) to African Countries, sending knowledge is the ideal means of emancipating people from hunger and poverty. Knowledge is the only gift that will not fade away, but aid like food, ”People would eat and beg again for it." Tillers International is an organization promoting the spread of knowledge in developing countries, and that’s why I love it!

I hope to learn a lot from Tillers so that I am able to teach people in my country how to drive oxen and many other things. I am also going to finish school in order to gain the theoretical information on farming that is also essential.


I am so grateful for the knowledge that I am receiving and hope to pass it to others."


Claudio Jose Castro Badilla, EARTH University, Costa Rica



2008 Interns

Silvia Maria Camareno Garro

EARTH University, Costa Rica

Andrew Roberts


Animal Traction Specialist during Tillers' ECHO III Training in Uganda, 2008.

Amanda Lewis


Volunteering in Guatemala.

Emily Sloane


John Kohler


Natalie Baur


Christian Guerrero Vasquez


Terrence Hilton


Ryan Taylor




2007 Interns

Scottie Browning


Rachel Hestrin


Medardo Moscoso

EARTH Univeristy, Costa Rica

Lena Yual

Papua New Guinea

Currently works for the Mennonite Central Committee with former sex workers in Bangladesh.

Robert Drake


Andrew Powrie

Peace Corps, Cameroon

Shannon Chase




2006 Interns

Ram Potaliya


Bob Okello

Trainee, Uganda

Adrian Gomez

EARTH University, Costa Rica

Ian and Gi MacGregor


John Miller


Daniel Criss


Russell Katherine




2005 Interns

Joseph Green Jr.

New York

Marya Link


Lisa Richter


Maurya Orr




2004 Interns

Mark Lundy


Brian Stovall


Jonathan Yoder


Daniel Wolfinbarger


Emily Fraser


Martha Burch


Alex Petrov, Maine


Working Villages International

Valerie Hart


Jessica Hanley




2003 Interns

Robert Burdick


Tillers Construction Coordinator

Dan Conklin



"Intern Ramble On," Nigh Ox June 2003


As a Tillers intern, I see a lot. Without exception, nearly everything I see is new or foreign, which in my home county confounds me. But now that I've had a month on the farm to extirpate my bewilderment at the constant swirl of the many multifaceted projects progressing simultaneously, I feel obliged to record a few thoughts. First, about what I see. And then since sigh hardly encompasses the entire sensual experience of a Tillers intern, I would like to include all other senses a human may know or possibly conceive. Since my arrival I have encountered nine new senses previously unbeknownst to my experiences. Oh, that country air.


Now, smell: ox breath, and I'm reluctant to confess I find the aroma pleasant. Sound: the Balfa Brothers Play Traditional Cajun Music, volumes one and two, which happily greets me and three fellow interns each morning at six o'clock in the am, unless it has been replaced by bagpipes (the roosters are a good half mile away from the Parish House). With regards to my palate, ugali, which is an east African dietary staple that entails the transformation of corn meal into a steaming hot mound of golden porridge ready to serve hand-to-mouth. Eric and Amon share an affinity for this carbohydrate-intensive delicacy.


And lastly, pain: both the reoccurring pain of having the top right corner of my right foot stepped on by oxen as I continue to learn the intricacies of the whoa-haw turn, as well as the pain of only recently discovering Tillers after practically sleeping with it under my pillow for a decade. Concerning the latter pain, its better described as shock--the shock that results from having circumnavigated the globe over four months' time and visiting ten countries only to return to one's home town to discover that an intensely more profound and diverse cultural experience can be had no less than fifteen miles from one's place of birth. This happened to me. I may have tasted African cuisine in Africa, but until I came to Tillers I did not know how to prepare it. So as I continue to prep myself for another trip abroad, I have found it necessary to take a few moments each day to glance at the display of Tillers' plans for the future, in order to appreciate and understand the beautyof the task of solving rural global concerns in a small scale environment on my own backyard sustainable sanctuary.


Robert Schultz


Summer Deal

South Carolina

Eric Oganda


Gilbert Malenga


Joel Ongari




2002 Interns

Ed Chew


David Rice

North Carolina

Kevin Klott


Surawit Chopjit


Alicia VerHage


Gilbert Malinga


Justin Tsague




2001 Interns

Martin Erhardt

New Jersey

Cathy Dernay


Moses Kisamo


Melissa Rhodes


Kristen Grote


Steve Poland


Mike Anderson




2000 Interns

Martin Munene


Nathan Bemis


Fiddlin' Holley


Denys Munga


Andrew Rothwell


Dulcy Perkins




Tillers Farm Coordinator

1999 Interns

Henry Sibwoga


Morgan Taggart

New York

Andy Newell

New Mexico

Joseph Kyome


Leyla Day


Daniel Phillips




1998 Interns

Susan Johnson


John Miller


Joseph Moore


Elizabeth Ellis (Murphy)




1997 Interns

Erin Scott


Keith Polo


Tara Kelly




1996 Interns

Barkas Ellie


Alex Crockford


Mark Hillon


Hilal Kanaan


James Carrabba Jr.




1995 Interns

Kris Svenson


Howell Living History Farm, NJ. Farm manager, Covenant Church mission, Zaire. CSA, WI. Tillers Farm Coordinator, 1999-2004.

Ann Marie Miller DeJong


Wendy and Jon Miller


Peter and Shannon Vogelaar



New York

1994 Interns

Matthew Hoffman


Brian Webb


Tillers Mozambique Project Manager

Doug Harley


Bart Seelye


Joby Hertel


Jim Bugg




1993 Interns

Elizabeth Hanna

New York

Al Gorman


Peter and Tieba Rice


Peter Ray



Washington DC

1992 Interns

Amy Hamilton


Janelle Wheelock


Kenneth Williams


Melissa Wilson


Jan Ott


Animal Traction Specialist during Tillers' ECHO III Training in Uganda, 2008. Peace Corps volunteer. Tillers International Outreach Coordinator, 2009.

Michael Pillsbury


Alexis and Jim Berry




1991 Interns

Jacob Koebbe


Anna Dutton


Steve Snyder


Bridget Jones


Rich Hutchman




1990 Interns

Yusuf Ahmed Mire


Marcia Keith


Ross Ferguson


Ken Alexander


Tom Traexler


James Sterns




1989 Interns

Dave Kramer


Tillers woodworking instructor and high school shop teacher.

David and Debbie Gullman




1988 Interns

John Vreyens


Head of International Agriculture at the University of Minnesota

Barbara Kieber

New York

Lynell la Quinta de Puelite Clark


Amy Kullenberg


Lois Jancek




1987 Interns

Pam Mueller

New York

Linda Figgins


Corrine Konrad




1986 Interns

Steve and Veronica Finn


Renee Kivikko


Tim Peterson


Ignacio and Jean Villa


Darrel Spencer

North Carolina

Nicole Wolf-Camplin




Scattergood Friends School

1985 Interns

Mike Moynihan


McNeil Seymour


Evan Frost


Elsa Haas


Rob Peterson


Burgess Ekman

New Jersey

Kurt and Jessica Young Brust




1984 Interns

Thomas Shamrell


Steve Leuty


Don Koelb



New York


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