Often, the most memorable educational experiences happen outside the classroom.
For Harrisburg Academy senior Jacob Chadwell, that experience came with an internship at a farm in Perry County through The L.E.A.F. Project.
“That was only one summer, but it’s probably been the most formative experience of the last four years and I’m definitely planning to work with them again over the spring and summer months before I go to college,” he said.
Chadwell, the son of Robert and Ann Chadwell of Camp Hill, said he worked with a dozen other youth from around the area to grow vegetables that were sold to restaurants. The teens also worked at farmers markets and visited larger farms as they learned about diversity and practical skills such as money management.
“There was such a wide array of skills that I learned that I really appreciated,” he said.
He hopes in the future to combine additional work with The L.E.A.F. Project with his love for photojournalism.
Chadwell traced his interest in journalism to his grandfather, who was engaged with watching the news and always had it on.
“I think that exposed me, as a little kid, to that for the first time,” Chadwell said.
In the last few years, he has continued to find the field more and more engaging to the point that it had grown into a passion. He has been honing his skills on software in his digital media class which incorporates photography throughout the Harrisburg area.
In the last year, he started attending rallies and protests in the area as an amateur to test his skills, and found the work “pretty exciting.”
For example, he took photos at the Farm Show Complex last April when President Donald Trump came to Harrisburg to mark his 100th day in office. Chadwell called it an eye-opening experience as he had the opportunity to take photographs of people who held different viewpoints from his own.
“I feel like I learned an incredible amount about people who are living in the same state as me,” he said.
He acknowledged that entering the field at a time when there are so many changes is “exciting and scary,” but added that there are many opportunities to be creative.
“The amount that’s there to learn and get a grasp of is overwhelming,”
Chadwell seems up for the challenge, though, as he has made it a point to apply to colleges that take him out of the suburban setting of the West Shore to some of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States including New York City, Los Angeles and Washington D.C. He chose schools in big cities because he finds the cities exciting and wants to be in a place where he feels small and can share his ideas with others who are hustling for their dreams.
To that end, he applied to nine colleges, and has been accepted to three. He’s still waiting to hear from the rest so a decision on which city he will eventually explore through the lens of a camera is still upcoming.
“I’m not close to a decision yet,” he said.