#PeopleofNIU Photo by Michelle LaVigne/Creative Services
Hometown: Lake Villa, IL
Senior Nutrition, Dietetics and Wellness major Mike Sooley spent this past summer pursuing what he calls a “tremendous opportunity,” working on an all-organic farm. Spending hot summer days weeding, tilling, planting and harvesting provided the perfect blend of his interests in nutrition and organic farming. Sooley is the first NIU Nutrition, Dietetics and Wellness major to serve a practicum at Mighty Greens Farm in Elburn, IL. Sooley, who is considering pursuing a graduate degree in agriculture and becoming a licensed dietitian, said working on the farm has inspired him to continue farming on a small scale.
Sooley’s interest in nutrition began when he started trying to take better care of himself. “I’m against GMOs [genetically modified organisms], pesticides and insecticides. I started looking at what I can do for myself. I became a student of organics.” That led to new views on food. “I look at food as more of a commodity. In the future, it will become even more of a commodity. I appreciate where food comes from. It’s a lot of work to produce a little bit.” Cooking is a passion of his too, and he’s excited to prepare farm-fresh Swiss and Rainbow chard (“it’s delicious”) from Mighty Greens. He considered being a chef but didn’t love it enough to make it his profession. “Cooking is like therapy to me.”