Welcoming Our Fall Interns

Written by Plant With Purpose on September 12, 2013 in News & Events

Fall Interns

Today we want to introduce you to our fall interns. They’re a gifted and passionate group who will be assisting us in preparing for the gala, writing grant proposals, compiling reports, creating new collateral and learning all about Plant With Purpose along the way. Join us in welcoming this bunch!


Hello! My name is Benjamin Taylor and I am fortunate to be one of Plant With Purpose’s newest grant writing interns. Plant With Purpose offers an invigorating opportunity to devote my time and efforts to a cause about which I am deeply passionate. As I grew up in Burbank, California, I became increasingly concerned about the environment both locally and globally. I am convinced that the current state of the environment is one of the most pressing issues facing humanity globally.

I went on to receive my bachelor’s degree in history from UC Berkeley. My undergraduate years were some of the most vibrant and intellectually stimulating of my life so far. UC Berkeley exposed me to an array of issues ranging from social justice to the food movement to global poverty and sustainable development. Most of all, my education challenged me to consider the interconnected nature of these issues.

I am inspired by my opportunity to work with Plant With Purpose because of their unique holistic approach to the challenges surrounding sustainable development in impoverished communities worldwide. Not only does Plant With Purpose tackle pressing environmental issues such as climate change, soil erosion, and the availability of clean water, our work also empowers local communities to rise above the cycle of poverty through community banking initiatives and education in sustainable agriculture.

Although human action is conventionally cast as the problem in environmental concerns, Plant With Purpose’s mission mobilizes populations across the globe to be a positive force in caring for the planet. I can’t imagine an organization that offers a more fulfilling way to develop my professional skills.


Blessings can come in many forms but for a college student in her final quarter, an opportunity such as this finance and admin internship is something to cherish and show appreciation for by means of earnest hard work and dedication. An opportunity to work with gifted people that are happy to share their talents and specialties, so that I am able to learn and help Plant With Purpose, is a tremendous blessing. It encourages me to accomplish as much as I can while I’m here, so that as an organization we can grow and affect the lives of people that have prayed for the opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty.

I must admit that the environmental factor is what initially drew me to Plant With Purpose but when I furthered my research into the organization, I realized that it did so much more. The spiritual piece really struck a chord with my strong Christian background from growing up in an active small church community near Houston in Brazoria, Texas. My faith in the Lord was strengthened as He helped me through my mother’s terminal lung cancer diagnosis. Surrounding myself with Jesus’s followers provides the support that allows me to be here in San Diego while my mother, father, and older sister are in San Jose, CA, and younger sister is residing in Los Angeles.

I am completing my senior year at University of California San Diego studying management science, which has fostered my mathematical and logic strengths as well as furthered my interests in finance and accounting.

My other interests include water skiing of which I am currently practicing on UCSD’s team. Being a huge fan of the water, San Diego has been such a great home for me as I have picked up snorkeling and swimming. I also realize how precious water is for life and sustainability, and it is my dream that all of God’s people would have such immaculate access to clean water as I have been able to enjoy and thrive upon for most of my life.


How many interns does it take to write a blog post? Just one! Hello from the new development intern at Plant With Purpose. My name is Aimee Kastenholz and I am excited for the opportunity to learn from all of the knowledgeable and experienced staff and to see what makes an international development nonprofit tick.

Growing up just outside of Lake Tahoe, I fell in love with the forest. Initially, I was drawn to the reforestation objective of Plant With Purpose. As I researched more into the organization, I began to understand the connection between social justice and environmental restoration. Poor families suffer because trees have been cut down, and since they are suffering, they are cutting down more trees just to survive. If we are going to break this destructive cycle, it is important to build up both the land and the people. I want to see exactly how Plant With Purpose is achieving this goal and what I can do to further its cause.

I have recently graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a bachelor’s degree in international studies. Focusing on sociology sparked my interest for working to alleviate worldwide poverty. During high school, I participated in three mission trips to build houses near Ensenada, Mexico. The blinders of my upper middle class suburbia life were torn clean off. This was the first time I truly recognized how fortunate I am. In an effort to develop some level of fluency with Spanish, I studied abroad for one year in Granada, Spain. I’m not going to lie; it wasn’t all skipping around and taking pictures of cathedrals. The first few months I was extremely homesick and I felt entirely alone. The idea of being stuck there for eleven more months was daunting. Overcoming this obstacle gave me a strength and a boldness that I didn’t have before.

I love to travel. I love languages. I love to read and I do a crossword puzzle near daily. I try to get outside as often as possible whether to hike, walk through Balboa Park, or just lay in my hammock. I am ready for my newest challenge and I am very thankful to be at Plant With Purpose.


Hello! I am David Hillner and I am excited to be one of the new grant writing interns at Plant With Purpose. I grew up in College Station, Texas playing tennis, ping-pong, board games, and any other type of game. After high school, I wanted to keep playing tennis, so I played my first year at a small school in Michigan. Realizing that the winters were too cold, I transferred to Azusa Pacific University studying in the Sierra Mountains, which is where I met my wife.

After graduating from Azusa Pacific University in December of 2011, I decided to put my economics degree to good use by teaching English. My wonderful wife of three months and myself boarded a plane to Wuhan, China to dive into a foreign culture. This fantastic experience made me realize that I really enjoy different cultures and seeing other parts of the world.

As cliché as it sounds, I believe that I learned more from my students in China than they learned from me! Living in China also increased my interest in poverty alleviation and environmental restoration. After returning to the USA, I thought that it was time for me to learn more about an organization like Plant With Purpose.

I first heard about Plant With Purpose in a microfinance/microenterprise development class at Azusa Pacific University. After lunches and lectures discussing Plant With Purpose with a former member of the organization, I thought that this was work well worth doing. Three years later, I have that opportunity!

Some of my hobbies include playing games, reading, hiking, camping, kayaking, traveling, and of course eating.  Some people eat to live, but I live to eat. I have never liked taking myself too seriously, but I have always wanted to take my work seriously. The mission and vision of Plant With Purpose makes it easy for me to take my work seriously. I am incredibly excited to be interning here and I cannot wait to learn from everyone and offer my help.


Hi! My name is Derek Wong and I am the new graphic design intern at Plant With Purpose! I found Plant With Purpose through UCSD and I am thrilled to begin interning here! I am originally from the Bay Area and moved to San Diego for college in 2009. I still have a few classes left before I complete my visual arts (media) major, but I would love to stay here in sunny San Diego once I graduate.

My dream is to become a documentarian for missions and use my God-given talents in film to record mission work around the world. Becoming an intern at Plant With Purpose is a huge step for me as I get to learn what it means to be a part of a Christian nonprofit. When it comes to design, I am a strong believer in applied art. I believe that art is more powerful when it serves a purpose, rather than just standing by itself. In this case, I am excited to use my art to truly deliver Plant With Purpose’s mission.

What stood out to me about Plant With Purpose is that it not only concentrates on communities’ environmental and economic needs, but it also shows concern for their spiritual needs as well. Through my graphical works, I hope to illustrate how this organization transforms communities from the inside out.

When I’m not behind a camera or a laptop screen, my hobbies include volleyball, snowboarding, and watching cartoons.

One Comment

  1. Welcome! We are glad to have you all with us this fall.

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