Community-Based Learning: A View of a Student’s Involvement with Corporations

by Nathan Grutchfield

Maggie Nowlan. Photo by Daryl Burtnett

Maggie Nowlan. Photo by Daryl Burtnett

MONTPELIER — One of the students Montpelier High School Principal Michael McRaith refers to as an example of rich student experience is Maggie Nowlan, a senior, who throughout high school has developed an interest in socially responsible businesses.

Through a community-based learning program, Nowlan was a corporate intern at the headquarters for the Cabot Creamery, a farmer-owned dairy cooperative business that is run directly by the farmers who produce the milk that is used in the dairy products. These farmers are empowered in the decision-making that affects the future of the business, and receive earnings directly correlating to the amount of milk they produce for the company.

Following this experience, Nowlan worked in the Social Mission Department at the Ben & Jerry’s world headquarters in South Burlington. The Social Mission Department is responsible for promoting the company’s social mission, which includes making the world a better place in innovative ways due to recognition of the central, influential role that the corporation exists in society in terms of helping to improve the quality of life for those around it.

Both Cabot Creamery and Ben & Jerry’s are B Corporations, a certification of their high social, economic and environmental standards. Nowlan took it upon herself to educate her peers about these corporations, which encompassed all her interests regarding the movement to use businesses as a way to promote social, economic and environmental good. She conducted a series of seminars about these companies to schools around Vermont, and even negotiated a sponsorship with Ben & Jerry’s to provide her 250 mini cups of ice cream to give to students along the way.

Nowlan, in the final semester of her senior year, is still leading seminars about B Corporations. So far she has presented to an astounding 350 students at 17 different schools. She has received a great amount of financial support and guidance from the community-based learning program, particularly her advisor Matt McLane, as well as from her teachers, who allow her to miss occasional classes for her seminars.

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