Blum Summer Field Internship


The Blum Summer Field Internship (BSFI) was established in 2014, with generous funding from University of California Regent Richard C. Blum and the UC Office of the President, to enable dozens of UC San Diego undergraduates to participate each summer in immersive, team-based field research in the UCSD Community Station sites, located in four disadvantaged communities across the San Diego / Tijuana border region. The Blum Summer Field Internship is supported by Mr. Blum, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


2019 marked the sixth year of the BLUM Field Internship Program with 16 students from UCSD and one student from UCLA. Interns were selected through an application process to engage in a two-month paid internship working with the UCSD Center on Global Justice Community Stations located in San Diego and Tijuana, MX. Interns worked in groups across the three Community Stations:  Casa Familiar in San Ysidro, Earthlab in Encanto, and Divina Providencia in Los Laureles Canyon region of Tijuana. The 2019 interns offered a range of different experiences and backgrounds to the internship program and built leadership skills through community engagement, research, creative processes, program design, and more. Below is more detail about their work at each community station:

Casa Familiar
Field coordinators: Camille Campion and JoAnna Proctor

At the San Ysidro Community Station in partnership with Casa Familiar, interns with a range of experiences and interests worked in partnership with the community to create a working atlas of San Ysidro, a compendium of the neighborhood’s brief histories, existing conditions, qualities and potentialities. The atlas packages together five areas of research to create a compelling narrative including, maps, historical documents, community resources, photography, design ideas, and more. The atlas offers a holistic view of the San Ysidro community and is utilized as a resource for the community as a pdf and as a video.

Field coordinator: Paúl Moscoso

At the 4 acre outdoor space that is EarthLab in Encanto, Blum Interns furthered the mission of merging traditional learning with outdoor, hands-on learning by engaging with the Middle School Science Academy. Interns taught middle school students about water quality and water conservation through interactive outdoor activities like the Walter Filtration Competition, providing them with a sense of environmental justice and autonomy. Also at EarthLab, through the partner organization, Groundwork San Diego Chollas Creek, interns engaged with local high school students on the Green Team. The Green Team is comprised of students from local high schools and teaches leadership through conservation, community engagement, and research. The interns hosted weekly activities with the Green Team including electric vehicle days. The Green Team also attended a forum hosted by an organization, YouthWill, that is creating a Youth Bill of Rights for the City of San Diego.

UCSD/Divina Community Station
Field coordinator: Kyle Haines

Interns worked together at the Divina Providencia Community Station in Tijuana to produce workshops ranging from a video project with local students and a community workshop on the everyday impacts of trash to educating on political and biological strategies for building resilience to flooding and erosion. The interns worked in smaller groups to

  1. Assist a local native plant nursery, Vivero Hormiguitas, and
  2. To deepen community capacity in Divina Providencia by :
  • advancing online systems to report dumping
  • build social media presence
  • work with local youth to develop pedagogical gardens for food and native plants at the Divina Community Center

In the final community workshop, the interns delivered activities, games, and presentations to explain the relevance of their work over the summer.


In the fifth year of the BLUM Field Internship Program 18 undergraduate students from UCSD programs, plus one students from across the UCSB participated in a two-month paid internship in the San Diego-Tijuana border region. The interns worked in teams based in the three UCSD Community Stations: the Cross-Border Community Station in San Ysidro, the Cross-Border Community Station in Laureles Canyon in the city of Tijuana; and the EarthLab Community Station in Encanto. Students from each field site were challenged to create visual tools and tours for community members, especially women and children, explaining what they learned from the community and proposing plans for future collaboration to be discussed and improved through community input. Bellow is a description of what the students worked on during their internships:

Casa Familiar
Field coordinator: Paulina Reyes

At Casa Familiar in San Ysidro interns researched accessibility of nutritious foods, problems of air pollution from the busy San Ysidro border crossing to Mexico, and plans for increasing the walkability of the neighborhood. Interns designed and gave community workshops, co-programmed at Casa Familiar’s monthly ‘San Ysidro Sin Limites/Without Limits’ meeting. They also facilitated a community conversation about public programming ideas for the new UCSD-Casa Community Station.

Field coordinator: Camille Campion

At Earthlab in Encanto, California, interns researched how South East San Diego is considered by many public health researchers ‘food swamp,’ i.e. an area with more cheap, unhealthy options like fast food than fresh, high-quality, and affordable options. They also collaborated with community partners at Earthlab to intervene by educating students at local schools about healthy eating habits. They participated by facilitating children and parent  in actually producing these high quality foods in the community gardens which are being built on their grounds.

UCSD/Divina Community Station
Field coordinator: Kyle Hains

Students at the Tijuana-Estuary field site researched the persistent problems with waste and sediment flows choking the Tijuana River Estuary on the US side, and how they related to a lack of consistent trash service and recycling in the peripheral canyons of Tijuana where community partners Colonos de Divina Providencia AC operate. Students gave public presentations on solid waste services and the health impacts of urban gardening. In addition they proposed a plan for cleaning up and improving local parks to increase green and recreational space in the Laureles Canyon while improving flows of trash and sewage into the Tijuana Estuary on the US side of the border.

Over the course of the academic year these workshops proved to be invaluable. They added significant public benefit to the neighborhoods that house the community stations sites, because they promote a clear and collaborative process for advancing real projects, and help advance the goals of our non-profit partners in a manner which respects and incorporates community voice.


In the fourth year of the BLUM Field Internship Program 28 undergraduate students from UCSD programs, plus three students from across the UC-system (UC Irvine, UC Berkeley, UC Los Angeles) participated in a two-month paid internship in the San Diego-Tijuana border region. The interns worked in teams based in the three UCSD Community Stations: the Cross-Border Community Station in San Ysidro, the Cross-Border Community Station in Laureles Canyon in the city of Tijuana; and the EarthLab Community Station in Encanto. Bellow is a description of what the students worked on during their internships:

Field coordinator: Camille Campion

The intern team based at the EarthLab collaborated with the non-profit Groundwork San Diego to advance the K-6 educational programming of the EarthLab and to work on a net-zero neighborhood energy plan funded by the California Energy Commission. They participated in two summer science academies at Earthlab. They worked alongside local teachers to engage students in science, eco-literacy lessons and hands-on activities. The interns aided teachers in the classroom in various lessons and then guided students in hands-on projects at the EarthLab. They also produced a short promotional video of the science academy at the end of the internship

In addition to participating in the educational programs, the interns worked on multiple projects relating to renewable energy. The interns combined physical surveying of the community and google maps data to analyze the solar potential of the community. Looking at metrics including solar irradiance, available residential and commercial space for solar installation, and neighborhood energy demand, interns estimated the potential for renewable generation to meet the energy needs of the community.

UCSD/Divina Community Station
Field coordinator: Kyle Hains

The team based at the Cross-Border Community station in Laureles Canyon collaborated with partner agency, the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve, and community partner, the Organización de Colonos de la Divina Providencia, A.C., on projects that explore connections between informal urban development, conservation and public health. In the 2017 Cross-Border Internship, students worked on three major projects. These projects were organized in advance by UCSD, TRNERR, and CDP, focusing on three major binational issues:

  1. Parks and Green Public Space
  2. Urban Gardens and Clinic Support
  3. Trash and Sediment Management

Casa Familiar
Field coordinator: Elizabeth Hensley Chaney  and Andrew Sturn

During the summer of 2017, interns of the Cross-Border Community Station in San Ysidro worked closely with a group of community leaders to identify and advance projects along three tracks that align with our partner’s vision to organize and empower residents in San Ysidro and South San Diego to take an active role in their communities by engaging in the civic, sustainability, and quality of life issues affecting them. Interns were fortunate enough to count on support from community promotoras in the time that they worked with Casa Familiar. Following an initial period of ethnographic research the interns worked with instructors, Casa Familiar leadership, and community members to identify these project areas:

  1. Community nutrition and sustainability
  2. Housing (in)security and access to educational resources
  3. Transportation justice and air quality initiatives

The 2017 internship in San Ysidro culminated in a presentation of intern research at the site of Casa Familiar’s Living Rooms at the Border housing projects on W. Hall Ave. in San Ysidro. The presentations were given in the context of a SIN LÍMITES event, which sought community input about programming to take place in Casa Patio, one element of the Living Rooms complex that accommodates multiple use.


Twenty-four interns from UCSD and 4 interns from across the University of California system participated in the 2016 two month paid Blum Summer Field Internship. In the third year of the BLUM Field Summer Internship Program students interned in the three Community Stations sites; in los Laureles Canyon, at San Ysidro Casa Familiar and at Earthlab in Encanto. For the first time interns were divided into three teams that acted in separate locations. This enabled the teams to develop final projects with more depth and intention. Bellow is a description of the projects that were developed at the three Community Sations:

Field coordinator: Camille Campion

An 8 minute video was created at the UCSD EarthLab Community Station. In the video, the students showcase the five week D.E.E.P science literacy camp, in which they participated. D.E.E.P. was a summer program that engaged K-5 graders in hands-on science learning. Students also present data that was collected on energy use and efficiency in the neighborhood of Encanto. The research was part of the UCSD EPIC project, funded by the California Energy Commission, to create a near zero net energy community in this marginalized region.  Students realized that having local knowledge of a community is essential for engaging in mutually beneficial and reciprocal university-community partnerships. The UCSD EPIC project also aimed to engage local members, and the Blum Summer field interns were instrumental in designing community engagement strategies that fulfilled this goal.

Los Laureles
Field coordinator: Kyle Hains

Student interns designed a recreational and ecological center for an informal settlement community in the Laureles canyon in Tijuana. They considered how a bus stop would enable the park to become a transit point, creating an active safe space and safe path for community members. The bus stop was designed to  promote and facilitate the use of public transportation by providing a safe and comfortable space for people to wait for and board local buses. Additionally, students explored sustainability aspects of the Parque Fronterizo. They considered the use of bioswales and native species to control erosion and create more stability in the region, and finally designed infrastructural interventions for the park. More than anything, their goal was to design Parque Fronterizo as an enjoyable, sustainable, and social hub. As part of these goals interns in this group also designed a community garden.  For this project they first did an assessments of the gardens in the field site as well as the open lots.

Interns also conducted formal interviews which helped shed light on the lack of access the community has to fresh fruits and vegetables. Once the interview process was done they convened a community-based garden committee comprised of active community members who had knowledge about gardening. The garden committee selected potential sites for the garden and will continue to play an active role in building and maintaining the garden.

Casa Familiar
Field coordinator: Elizabeth Hensley Chaney and Andrew Sturn

In San Ysidro interns found that the promotoras (community health advocates) were vital to their success as community-university mediators. They explored the crucial role of promotoras and to understand the real issues facing residents of San Ysidro. They found that members of the community of San Ysidro had expressed interest in starting a community garden. Past attempts had been made; however, due to accessibility issues these past attempts petered out. Interns also evaluated sites where food production took place in the community (mostly backyard garden plots). Alongside these food production evaluation efforts, they made note of vacant lots in the community where a future garden could potentially be developed. The establishment of Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones in the city of San Diego provided leverage for community organizations that seek to negotiate with property owners toward developing such projects. Through conversation with community members, the San Diego Master Gardeners’ Association, and Girl Scout Troop #5912 (the first bilingual GS troop in San Diego), the 2016 BSFI cohort constructed a series of raised garden boxes and an experimental vertical garden at the San Ysidro Community and Recreation Center.  The garden boxes serve as a space for workshops that will be available to community members interested in gardening.


Field coordinators: Elizabeth Hensley Chaney, Kyle Hains  and Camille Campion

In the second year of the BLUM Field Internship Program fourteen students from UCSD participated in a two months paid internship spanning two watersheds in the San Diego-Tijuana bi-national region. The interns worked with one of two cohorts, each based at one of two distinct Community Stations: the Blum Cross-Border Community Station, in the Tijuana River Watershed, and the Earthlab Community Station, in the Chollas Creek Watershed.

The cohort based at the Cross-Border Community station rotated between the two organizations that comprise the CS: Casa Familiar, in the community of San Ysidro; and Alter Terra in Terrazas de San Bernardo (located in the sub-watershed of Los Laureles in Tijuana, Baja California). The intern cohort based at the Earthlab collaborated with Groundwork San Diego to develop projects exploring the ecology of Chollas Creek Watershed, with specific focus on the Diamond District neighborhood of Southeast San Diego. The internship was structured to meet three day per week, over a span of ten weeks. The interns spent two days per week in the field, either in the Diamond District, in San Ysidro or in Los Laureles Canyon. One day per week was dedicated for meetings at UCSD.

At Earthlab, interns interfaced with Groundwork SD’s DEEP (Diamond Educational Excellence Partnership) Literacy Program to develop a range of individual project proposals, based on research of different urban agriculture projects in San Diego County. Interns of the Cross-Border cohort were based in the San Ysidro community for the first several weeks of the internship to help develop the “Senior Garden Project,” seeking to promote its temporary use as a site for educational programming and also as sede for a food distribution program in the community. In the following weeks, interns of the Cross-Border cohort shifted to the field site in Los Laureles Canyon, where they explored the geological history of the canyon to develop a series of proposals for projects and programming to potentially be enacted by the community partner, Alter Terra.


Field coordinators: Deborah Forster and Kyle Haines 

The BLUM Field Internship Program was piloted in summer 2014. In its first year (2014) eight students from UCSD participated in a two-month paid internship in the San Diego – Tijuana border region. The interns worked closely with staff to develop a “needs and assets analysis” in San Ysidro and Los Laureles, the sites of the new Cross-Border Community Station. Teams rotated between the two community-based organizations – Casa Familiar in San Ysidro, California and Alter Terra in the Los Laureles canyon in Tijuana, Mexico.

Analysis of the needs and assets in San Ysidro and Los Laureles was done through visits to the sites several times a week, in which the students conducted interviews among community members and community leaders, observations and measurements using state of the art technology.

The internship was structured to meet three day per week, over a span of ten weeks. Each day started at 9 am, and lasted until 4 pm. The interns spent Mondays and Wednesdays in the field, either in San Ysidro or in Los Laureles Canyon. Fridays were dedicated for meetings at UCSD, during which we discussed and analyzed the work done that week in the field. Finally, the students worked on packaging and delivering a final presentation that utilizes multimedia technology and the PIP methodology.

To inquire about our Blum Summer Field Internship contact Khushbu Gokalgandhi at:

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