Colorful Colorado - Kaylee Benning
I'm a junior at Wartburg. I'm majoring in Fitness Management with a minor in Psychology and Leadership Certificate. Through deciding on my major, I have developed a deep interest in nutrition/dietetics and the combination of exercise in people's lives. I'm also very interested in the psychological side of nutrition and understanding why/how people develop the eating behaviors that they do and their comprehension of nutrition as an important component of healthy living. After Wartburg, I plan on getting my degree in dietetics and becoming a registered dietitian. In the meantime, I'm taking in a lot of varied and great experiences here in Denver to broaden my education and experience in the health and nutrition field. My internship is at the Downtown YMCA where I have started a nutrition and healthy eating class to target members and build an interest level in nutrition programming at the Y. This includes providing healthy eating information, nutrition advice and tips, recipes, and samples. I'm also learning a lot about the business side of the fitness industry which is quite different in a large organization like the YMCA in a big city such as Denver compared to my experience and exposure working at the W the last 3 years. In addition, I work with a nutritionist from the Community Programs Branch of the YMCA teaching nutrition classes in several schools throughout Denver ranging from second grade to high school. It has been a great experience so far and has really allowed me several opportunities to learn and implement nutrition in a variety of settings and to many different audiences.
Aside from my internship, my general learning continues to expand every week through the engaging classes we are taking here in Denver. I never thought I could so easily get involved and learn about social issues, politics, and various groups in such a short amount of time! With the help of Nelson and Bonita, I have been exposed to and able to participate in various organizations addressing issues of my own personal interests but also other topics that I would probably never take time to learn about otherwise. For my Community Engagement Project, I am volunteering my time and learning about a well-known food pantry here in Denver, Metro CareRing. This pantry receives all their food as donations from the largest and healthiest grocery stores in Denver. It is truly amazing the amount of fresh produce, whole grain items, and much more healthy food that people of Denver can get from the pantry to feed their families. This addresses the issue of food justice, especially in large cities where poverty is quite prevalent. It's really opened my eyes to the social issues surrounding us that we often don't consider in our everyday lives. I also have had the opportunity to follow a piece of Colorado legislation as a part of our Faith and Politics in America class. Continuing my theme of nutrition interest, I am following a bill about the regulation and registration standards of dietitians in Colorado. This has been yet another interesting and informative experience!
Even though we are very involved and busy with our internships and classes here in Denver, we do find time to take in the sights and all that the beautiful state of Colorado has to offer. My greatest experience thus far has been my first skiing attempt, and I'm happy to say that it was quite successful! I love having the mountains and snow within sight at all times while being able to enjoy the warm sunny, "running outside in shorts" weather several days a week. I also think I've become much more cultured being here with so many entertainment opportunities. I've been to the Denver Center of Performing Arts for a couple of great shows. I could go on and on about all the unique and new experiences that I have taken in while out here! Most importantly, I am proud of my own adjustments to the big city life, public transportation system, and eclectic personalities of the population here. Growing up in Waverly, Ia and then attending college at Wartburg, this is my first real experience away from home, and more than anything it has been a positive learning experience about myself. I miss my friends and family back home, but I know that these short few months here in Denver are teaching me life lessons that I would not get in the Midwest in the comfort of my hometown. I am so thankful and happy that I took advantage of this Wartburg West opportunity and am taking in all that it has to offer!
Take care in Iowa =)