Published: Jan. 2, 2021 By

Jane is a 2019 MENV graduate and currently works as the Creative Director at Mad Agriculture, a Boulder-based non-profit that “works from head to heart, poetry to science, financing to markets, and soil to shelf to catalyze a regenerative revolution in agriculture that is beautiful, just and inevitable.” In this alumni spotlight article, Jane tells us her current position, her job search experience, and shares her advice for current and future MENV students.

What is your academic and professional background?

Jane Cavanjero HeadshotAfter graduating from Colorado College in 2016 with a degree in International Political Economy, I moved to Boulder to start working for Meadowlark Farm Dinners. In this role, I was able to meet and collaborate with farmers to create beautiful meals and spotlight these farmers’ operations. From there, I worked as a program coordinator for Slow Food Denver, a photography studio manager for Lange Studio, and a farm manager for Lykin’s Gulch. All of these experiences gave me a deeper understanding of the regional food system and my love of photography, but I was still looking for a stronger sense of how my personal skills could grow and contribute to the movement. That is how I ended up in the MENV program, specializing in Sustainable Food Systems.


Where do you work and how would you describe your role?

I now work for Mad Agriculture, a Boulder-based non-profit providing farm planning services for farmers transitioning toward regenerative practices. As the Creative Director, I manage our organizations’ communications, marketing, branding, e-commerce, and community events. I also serve as the project manager for three programs at Mad Ag: the Journal Publication, Restore Colorado and our regional Grain Revival work. From storytelling to coordination, I wear many hats, but the common thread through it all is my excitement for being a part of our regenerative food system.


How did you find your current position? Could you speak about your job search process and how it went?

I serendipitously met our founder, Phil Taylor, on one of my first days in Boulder while he was at the very beginning of bringing his vision of Mad Agriculture to life. Over time, we slowly got to know each other through our mutual food community, grabbing coffee every once in a while. By the time I started MENV, it wasn’t hard for me to choose a formal capstone with this blossoming organization. Throughout my fellowship at Mad Ag, I was given opportunities to apply my photography, graphic design and editorial skills. While these additional projects were outside of my original projects’ scope of work, it was in these moments of trust that I felt I was able to meaningfully contribute to the organization. I received a job offer at the beginning of my last semester at MENV. I recognize that my experience in getting an offer from my capstone partner was not all that common nor something to expect, so I feel immensely grateful that I have the opportunity to continue the work my capstone team started during our time at MENV. This role allows me to not only pursue my professional goals, but to stay connected with the MENV program through Mad Ag’s continued engagement with the capstone project.


Were there any hard or soft skills you felt you lacked or wished you were stronger in when you started your career after graduate school?

I wish I had found more opportunities to advance my marketing skills while I was in the program. I also wish I had a bit more background in start-up finance and program budgeting more generally. There are a lot of skills I want to keep developing to improve my work, but I don’t think they were all things I should have learned in graduate school. Many of them are things I am slowly teaching myself, like search engine optimization (SEO) and website development, and some are things I want to eventually take additional classes in, like storytelling and video production. There will always be places to improve, but maintaining a growth mindset and an excitement for learning will ensure that graduate school is not the end of your education.


What is something people may not know about you?

When I am stressed, I like to fold paper cranes––you will find long strings of them hanging throughout my apartment.


What advice would you give to current and/or future MENV students?

First, MENV is training students to enter into emerging and evolving industries, so being adaptive and open-minded are important skills. This mindset can be practiced within the MENV program itself. The interdisciplinary approach leaves a lot to be decided, making a clear path not always obvious. The program works well when you can recognize its flexibilities, while identifying your personal needs and appropriate mentors. And second, say yes as much as you can. It is impossible to know all the skills you will need once you move into your new career, so trying new things, and understanding what you don’t know can be really helpful. The more you can learn what is out there, the easier it can be to decide what skillsets you want to build. Sometimes the random workshop, talk, project or partnership is just the shift in perspective you need to see things in a new light.