In this weeks inspiration series we profile Ehrin Lingeman who volunteers her time at CFI

Ehrin Lingeman is used to adapting to difficult situations.

Her group’s bus broke down in Southeast Asia and they ended up sleeping on the side of the road all night until a new bus came. But Lingeman wasn’t too upset.

“That wasn’t some peoples favorite night ever, but we survived,” said Lingeman, an Ohio University senior studying global studies and French. “It was interesting, but it was also really fun. It was an example of really having to adapt to unexpected situations.”

Lingeman picked up that skill in part by volunteering at Community Food Initiatives (CFI) every Wednesday before classes from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. for the past six months. Last summer, she volunteered even more while taking classes and worked part time at Front Room Coffee.

When an official CFI employee couldn’t make it to a Saturday farmers market, she was asked to manage the market for the day. Under her management, the market received so many monetary and food donations that they wouldn’t fit in two cars and she had to call for backup.

“That was the best moment,” Lingeman said. “When you’re working that closely with a nonprofit that does this kind of work, you really saw the direct impact it has by seeing how much food and money can be donated.”

Lingeman contributes first-hand to these food donations by promoting CFI to her sustainable agriculture class. In the class, students share a garden plot and grow their own fresh produce. Because many of the students live in dorm rooms and cannot prepare their produce, Lingeman encourages them to donate the extra food to CFI.

“We grow so much that we can’t necessarily eat it all before it goes bad,” Lingeman said. “Since most people don’t have cars on campus, I box it all up and drive it over there probably once or twice a week.”

When she’s not driving wheelbarrows of red peppers to CFI, Lingeman is working with the Global Leadership Center, a student-run leadership organization that works on many real-world projects with clients abroad. In that organization, she’s known as the girl who always has her hand in the air to contribute ideas, even when the rest of the group is too nervous to say something.

“She is the kind of person you want to be in a group with,” said Erin Golden, fellow member of Global Leadership Center, who has traveled with Lingeman to Vietnam. “She always finds a way to eloquently say whatever the rest of us are thinking. She’s not afraid to stand out and ask the hard questions.”

Another center member Morgan Stanley, who has worked closely with Lingeman on two different international projects, agrees.

“There is no one I would rather work with,” Stanley said. “Just having her around gives you motivation for whatever you are working on because she cares so much about everything and everyone.”

With graduation around the corner, Lingeman has big plans for her future. She’s looking into 6-week internships in Africa to manage sustainable development projects, and hopes to eventually get a job focusing on eliminating global issues.

“Some of my friends who haven’t traveled often are a little skeptical of [me] because I tend to do some things that aren’t exactly by the book,” Lingeman said. “I aspire to not have a traditional way of life later on.”


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