Hometown Summer

Monday, Aug. 11, 2014 8:32 am

Maile feeding miniature horses

Maile Leathem-Rietz ’17, a Grinnell native who decided to stay home this summer, has crafted a rich blend of volunteer work, paying jobs, hobbies, and sports. “I started collecting jobs for the summer,” she says. “Things just fell together.”

Volunteering as a Research Assistant

One of her volunteer gigs is working as a research assistant for a few hours per week with Audrey Devine-Eller, assistant professor of sociology. Devine-Eller wanted a student who had attended Grinnell High School (GHS) to help clean, organize, and code her survey data. The surveys were completed by students in the GHS 2014 graduating class and cover these students’ post-college plans.

As a GHS alum, Leathem-Rietz can provide context that doesn’t show up in the survey data, like the fact that a lot of Grinnell High School students’ plans depend on how much financial need they have.

This is Leathem-Rietz’s first experience working with a professor on a research project. “It’s interesting to see trends in the data, even though they’re expected,” she says. For example, surveyed students who didn’t take an Advanced Placement, college, or dual-credit course didn’t plan to attend a four-year college. “Where’s the causation?” Leathem-Rietz asks.

This intellectual work keeps her mind engaged this summer, but practical matters — like money — are important too.

Working for Pay

Maile  working a cash register at McNally's Since Leathem-Rietz is considering veterinary school after Grinnell, it seems only natural that she do some work related to animals.

One job involves horses. She feeds about 15 horses at noon every day. “It’s not work to me,” she says. “It’s a nice break.” During the school year, she boards her own horse there and can ride indoors.

Leathem-Rietz also does occasional work as a farm sitter. At the farm, she milks two goats once a day. “Together they produce about a gallon of milk,” she says. She cares for the chickens, turkeys, goose, and cats too.

Her main job in the summer is working 15–20 hours per week at McNally’s Foods, a small grocery store in downtown Grinnell that’s an easy walk from campus. She does several tasks at McNally’s, including running a cash register, stocking groceries, unloading trucks, and managing the store.

Leathem-Rietz has been working there since she was 15. “I like having a connection back into the community,” she says.

Having fun

Maile in background behind a horseDuring the Poweshiek County Fair this summer, Leathem-Rietz volunteered for the horse show and horse games. “The county fair was the highlight of my summer growing up,” she says. She used to show her horse.

She rode one day of RAGBRAI, The Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, and she played on a slow-pitch softball team with friends. And fitting in a family vacation was one of her original reasons for staying home this summer instead of pursuing an internship elsewhere.

Of her varied collection of paid jobs, volunteer work, and fun activities, Leathem-Rietz says, “It’s a good combination. They keep me busy.”

Next summer, however, some kind of internship is part of her plans.

Maile Leathem-Rietz ’17 is undeclared but considering biology.