The beginning of September and going back to school is an exciting time for everyone. It’s a time of change, bringing new routines, new friends, and new learning experiences. In the spirit of change and new experiences, I’d like to introduce myself as the new Montana FoodCorps Fellow, as well as our 2013-2014 team of ten Montana FoodCorps service members!

My name is Kirsten Gerbatsch, and prior to coming to Montana, I was a FoodCorps service member in northwest Michigan for two years, where I learned about the unique challenges and opportunities of healthy, local food access in rural communities. While I feel most at home on farmland surrounded by wilderness, I actually grew up in the crowded suburbs of New Jersey. My interest in agriculture and food issues took root early on during my studies at Reed College in Portland, Oregon when I began volunteering with an urban farms and food bank and studying American history. Since joining FoodCorps, I have decided to pursue a career in national food and agricultural policy. I am honored to have the opportunity to work, learn, and grow here in Montana, and to support the amazing FoodCorps members during their term of service.

I know I speak for the whole team when I say that we are ready to get back to school this fall! After all, there is a bounty of fall produce to harvest from school gardens, local food to put on thousands of lunch trays, and plenty of fun classroom lessons to teach! Our team will be serving in ten locations across the state, including: Boulder, Billings, Bozeman, Kalispell, Ronan, Ennis, Missoula, Butte, North Shore, and Red Lodge. I would like to welcome back four of the service members from last term: Pete Kerns, Erin Jackson, Camille McGovern, and Nicki Jimenez, who will be returning to serve a second year in their communities. And six new folks have joined us this year: Maggie Harkins, Andi Giddings, Demetrius Fassas, Emily Howe, Jessica Manly, and Zoe Tucker.

We are lucky to have the knowledge and experience of our second year members, and I am equally thrilled about the fresh ideas that our newest members will bring to their communities. To learn more about our incredible service members and where they serve, check out our “Current Members” page on our blog. You can visit our Facebook page to stay up to date on the latest FoodCorps stories here: https://www.facebook.com/MontanaFoodCorps.

Stay tuned for updates throughout the school year to learn more about the incredible changes that each of these service members will make in the school food environment this year. Here’s to a great start to the new school year and the newest class of Montana FoodCorps Service Members!