And there’s so much more that I hope to accomplish before I leave. This spring I will be working with students and teachers to start a brand new garden at our high school. Along with a garden we hope to secure grant money with the help of our awesome MSU extension agent Mary Anne Keyes to fund the materials needed to have chickens on our high school campus as well. I will be continuing my daily Farm to School lessons and have hopes of taking the kids on some more farm field trips come spring. I also hope to work with food services to serve even more local foods in the cafeteria.
Becky Naab is a PRC AmeriCorps VISTA serving with the FoodCorps team, at Livingston’s Farm to School.
Just one year ago, I had a degree in environmental sustainability, a passion to put my academic learning to use, and a handful of rejection letters from potential employers who were still feeling the squeeze of the economic recession. A college advisor suggested I give a year of public service through AmeriCorps, and I sent in my application. Before I knew it, I was leaving Ohio—where I’d lived my whole life—and moving out to Montana—where I’d never before even visited.
I joined because I wanted to give, but I never imagined how much I would learn. Just six months in, I’ve already discovered that kids actually like fruits and vegetables; it’s just all in how they are presented. I’ve learned how much I have to learn about the rules, regulations, and decision-making processes govern even the smallest schools. I’ve learned that farmers happen to be the coolest people ever. And I’ve recently learned that Livingston, Montana is one of the windiest cities in the United States (burrrr wind-chill)!
Every day, I learn from my supervisor, teachers, students, farmers, parents, other FoodCorps VISTAs, and community members. Perhaps most importantly, I learn by doing, which is more valuable than any learning you could do in a classroom, and gives me the chance to have a meaningful impact on my community. Every day, I teach Livingston elementary school students Farm to School lessons, and I can see how they are opening up to eating healthy food grown closer to home. I’ve helped serve a full meal beef, barley, and veggie soup, homemade coleslaw, and Flathead cherry crisp made from all Montana-grown food to 700 kids.
So much to do, so little time! The truth is, the work of a FoodCorps volunteer is never done and I’m totally okay with that. I’m so lucky that FoodCorps gave me a path to follow when I felt I was at a crossroads with streets pointing in every single direction. When you find something you’re truly passionate about it gives you a feeling that’s hard to describe. You feel empowered, hopeful, strong, and just down-right happy. You want to keep going. Now I have a road to follow and I’ve begun to embark on an amazing journey.
The mission of FoodCorps isn’t something I’m doing for a year; it’s something I will be doing for life.