Friday, October 4, 2013

Arkansas Welcomes New Crop of FoodCorps Service Members

Five new FoodCorps service members came together September 18-20 at the National Center for Appropriate Technology's Southeast Regional Office in Fayetteville, Ark., for training, skill sharing, and team building in preparation for the 2013-2014 service year. Southeast Regional Office Director Margo Hale and FoodCorps Arkansas Fellow Rachel Spencer led new FoodCorps service members Sean Coder, Destiny Schlinker, Jenn Warren, Kelsie Shearrer, and Cecilia Hernandez in orientation sessions and hands-on activities at service sites in Fayetteville, Springdale, and Marshall.

Service members lead the Green Team at Asbell Elementary
in Fayetteville in planting cover crops. 
Hands-on activities included creating vegetable super-heroes with a fifth grade class at Harp Elementary in Springdale and preparing a garden bed, learning about soil, harvesting carrots, and planting a cover crop with the Green Team/Garden Club at Asbell Elementary in Fayetteville. Service members also visited the new community garden at Bayyari Elementary in Springdale and participated in a garden leaders meeting at Happy Hollow Elementary in Fayetteville. On Friday, the team made the two-hour trip east to Marshall, where they started seeds and prepared garden beds at Marshall High School.

“Our orientation was a great way to come together as a state team and learn about where each of our members is serving, as well as grow stronger as a cohort. I am excited to see the impact our service members will make this year,” said Hale.

Kelsie, Cecilia, and Destiny learn tips for talking nutrition
with kids from "Organ Andy" and Agent Julie.
Washington County Extension Agent Berni Kurz presented a session on gardening in Arkansas—an important topic, since only one of the five service members is an Arkansas native. During their visit to Marshall, FoodCorps service members met with Searcy County Extension Agent Julie Blair for training in nutrition education. Partnering with other local agencies and organizations is crucial in building and sustaining Farm to School programs, and the team left orientation eager to cultivate community support for their efforts.

In that spirit of partnership (and appreciation for good food), NCAT also hosted a community potluck for the service members so they could meet representatives from several local organizations working in sustainable agriculture and garden-based education, as well as other AmeriCorps members and alumni. 

We have a good feeling about this year. Stay tuned!

We stopped for some quality lunch in Leslie, AR. 
NCAT has served as the Arkansas Host Site for FoodCorps since 2012. To learn more about our host site, visit

by Robyn Metzger (NCAT), 
adapted by Rachel Spencer

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