Arkansas Welcomes New Crop of FoodCorps Service Members

The FoodCorps Arkansas team. L to R—Margo Hale, Kelsie Shearrer, Cecilia Hernandez, Jenn Warren, Sean Coder, Destiny Schlinker, Rachel Spencer.
The FoodCorps Arkansas team. L to R—Margo Hale, Kelsie Shearrer, Cecilia Hernandez, Jenn Warren, Sean Coder, Destiny Schlinker, Rachel Spencer.

Five new FoodCorps service members came together September 18-20 at NCAT’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.

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

The Asbell Elementary Garden Club prepared a garden bed and planted a cover crop for the winter.
The Asbell Elementary Garden Club prepared a garden bed and planted a cover crop for the winter.

“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.

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.

NCAT has served as the Arkansas Host Site for FoodCorps since 2012. For more information about FoodCorps, visit https://foodcorps.org. To keep up with Arkansas service members, visit http://arkansasfoodcorps.blogspot.com, like them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/FoodCorpsArkansas.

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