Riding Down The Right Path: Research Project, Internship Fulfill Bike Enthusiast's Passion
A good bike ride fixes everything — or in Carly Adam’s case, a good bike ride connects everything.
The junior communication major and avid biker needed a project for her research methods course — a semester-long case study of a Lincoln nonprofit organization where she would gather data, evaluate and make recommendations on best communication practices.
After some probing, she found Lincoln Bike Kitchen (LBK), a nonprofit organization that advocates for cycling in the community, providing refurbished bikes and parts to the public for free so that anyone can enjoy the benefits of biking. The organization seemed like a good fit for her project.
"I love being outside in nature, and riding my bike gives me the opportunity to get exercise, spend time with family and friends, as well as provides personal time to de-stress and renew my energy," she said. "I thought researching LBK would be a great way to connect with the biking community in Lincoln."
Adams conducted her research: she observed, analyzed, and surveyed LBK all the while taking part in the action. Volunteers run the organization, so Adams' time onsite was spent with them as they repaired bikes.
In the meantime, Adams was also nearing the end of a photography course at NWU and had yet to get fully comfortable photographing people. LBK volunteers were more than happy to pose as her subjects. She completed her projects, and LBK received promotional materials from her efforts.
"The best part about taking photographs was that I could use my camera to build a relationship with some of the volunteers, as well as see through another perspective," she said.
Through her research, volunteer work, and photography, Adams built connections. But one particular relationship connected her to her next opportunity.
Clayton Streich volunteers as a bike mechanic at LBK and teaches algebra at Nebraska Wesleyan. Adams and Streich immediately bonded over NWU and biking. It was Streich who introduced Adams to one of his favorite biking events —Tour de Nebraska (TDN). The tour takes bikers on a five-day ride through rural Nebraska to enjoy and experience the beauty and community in the state.
Adams was ready to sign up.
Streich soon informed her that registration for this year’s tour was closed. But he was able to soften the disappointment with a potential summer internship opportunity through TDN that could allow Adams to work with the bikers even if she wasn't a participant.
"I was up for the challenge," she said. "The internship matched perfectly with everything I like to do and have experience in."
Adams sent in her resume, got an interview and eventually the internship.
During Tour de Nebraska, Adams traveled ahead of the bikers to each host town and rest stop—where participants would stay overnight on their route. She confirmed that all details were in place and running smoothly. In short, Adams' responsibility was to ensure that the riders' homes away from home felt like home.
When challenges arose — like falling short on food or equipment — Adams developed solutions by pulling from what was readily available. When Adams wasn’t problem-solving, she continued to learn from and build relationships with the bikers on the tour.
"I absolutely loved the internship," she reflected. "I learned a lot about biking, spoke to amazing people, and grew as an individual. Everyone had an interesting story to share and I was able to make some great connections."
"This experience helped me realize just how much I like to listen, work with, and organize people."
Story by Quinn Hullett ('18), public relations intern