First Clif Bar Employee Completes Re-Ternship: Prepped for Nonprofit Service in Retirement

Clif Bar’s Kathy Shoden retired (3/28/19) after completing a special final year of work, her 14th-plus on our Sales Team. Kathy, 60, is Clif Bar’s first Re-Tern, having spent the past year as the inaugural participant in our CLIF CORPS Re-Ternship program. (Think paid Internship for someone on the cusp of Retirement). Four days a week, Kathy worked on our Community team, supporting a variety of colleagues and projects, learning up close about community service, foundations, grants and social and environmental issues. The goal: Prepare her (and future Re-Terns) to be able to continue to give back her community in retirement, equipped with the skills needed to be a valuable resource in the nonprofit world.

The CLIF CORPS Re-Ternship fits naturally with our approach to business. We offer employees many opportunities for employees to volunteer on company time, and now that we’ve reached a point after 27 years where some are retiring, we want to equip them with the skills to continue to give back to their communities after they stop working. As a family- and employee-owned business, employees are just like our extended family. We are there for them throughout their careers and lives. We sustain them when they are starting families through onsite childcare at our headquarters; with a great place to work, great benefits, tuition reimbursement and much more; and now via Re-Ternship.

Check out what Kathy has to say about her pioneering Re-Ternship experience:

How was your Re-Ternship?

I loved it! It’s a nice way to not go immediately from 60 miles per hour to zero, and to wake up one Monday morning after years of work with no job and no idea of what you’re going to do. I had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects, take Fridays off and leave Clif Bar each day with a sweetness and appreciation.

What are some of the projects you worked on?

I researched nonprofit partners who could potentially host LUNAFEST, our traveling film festival that showcases and champions women in film. I researched and helped develop a report on a type of grant the Clif Bar Family Foundation is exploring. I provided support for two In Good Company projects—restoration of a community garden in the Bronx and an Ohio River cleanup an hour outside of Cincinnati. I also cooked for volunteers at the Ohio River project as well as helped them collect trash along the river banks.

What were your main takeaways from the Re-Ternship?

At a high level, I learned that in retirement, at least right now, I don’t want to do anything that involves a desk and computer. I don’t want to be sitting behind a computer any time in the near future. Topically, I realized that my two biggest interests are growing the organic food movement and finding ways to eliminate single-use plastics.

Did anything in particular during the Re-Ternship spark your interest in organic food?

Organic food was an interest of mine going into the Re-Ternship, but it grew during the past year. Our Community team did a CLIF® CORPS volunteer day at Happy Acre Farm in Sunol (CA). It’s run by young farmers who were interested in getting away from their desk jobs and getting their hands dirty. They helped me realize organic farming doesn’t have to be on a 160-acre farm like we see in the Midwest. I can envision small organic farms springing up in small midwestern towns like the one I’m from. Or maybe someone interested in hydroponic farming setting that up in one of those abandoned old buildings you find on Mainstreet USA. I’d like to help with those things in some way.

What about single-use plastics? What spurred you interest in that issue during the Re-Ternship?

The In Good Company project I volunteered on during my Re-Ternship was eye opening for me. I helped cook meals for the employee volunteers, but also got out along the banks of the Ohio River to help pick up trash. Just seeing what was out there—thousands of plastic bottles, plastic bags, plastic toys, pieces of plastic of all sizes—that changed me. It was crazy what we were pulling off the river banks.

Clif Bar’s Business with Purpose Scholarship program is designed to help graduating college seniors find their purpose. That’s a goal similar to the Re-Ternship, but for people at a different stage in life. Any advice for the young graduates?

To do what makes them happy. It’s important to work for a purpose, but also to be happy and passionate about what you’re doing, and to be open to the path changing if you learn about something you never knew was out there before that ignites your interest.

So what’s your retirement plan?

I’m moving back to my tiny hometown in Illinois at the end of March (2019) to be with family and help my mom in the latter chapter of her life. I don’t know exactly what I’ll do in the nonprofit arena, but the Re-Ternship has made it clear for me that I want to be involved with organic food, plastics, or both. It’s given me direction, skills, knowledge and confidence. That’s a pretty good start to the next chapter of my life.