A belated Thanksgiving post follows. We all know gratitude isn’t seasonal!
We give thanks for our partnership with FoodCorps. I feel very fortunate to work with this incredible organization that lent us Emily for a whole year last year and now Cam. FoodCorps volunteers bring so much to our school through their garden/nutrition lessons in school and after school, daily work in the garden and cafeteria, and participation in various on-campus programs for children’s health.
Here’s Cam, demonstrating his good sport, unfailingly positive, ready-for-any-challenge attitude. Our after school program has an annual Turkey Run during which kids chase a costumed adult turkey around the playground. The first to grab a flag takes home a full turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, and everyone else who participates gets to choose an item (yams, canned soups, cranberries, stuffing) for their families as well.
Thanks Cam! Julian Elementary and Julian Junior High are very grateful you are here!
Today we are welcoming our new Food Corps service member for the next 11.5 months. You may remember that our district began working with (the most amazing) FoodCorps program last year, and Emily pioneered the position here on campus. Cam was here in early August for on-site training, then left for national and regional training in Portland and Oakland, and now he’s back to dig in. I’ll let him introduce himself below. Welcome Cam!
My name’s Cameron James Petersen, though most call me Cam, and I’ll be replacing Emily Horowitz (or Ms. Emily to our younger readers) as the new FoodCorps AmeriCorps Service Member at Julian Union Elementary School District / Julian Pathways.
So a little about me:
I hail from down the hill, and grew up in El Cajon, although I’ve lived up and down the West Coast. I graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in History and English, knowing I’d end up back inside a classroom sooner or later as a teacher. An interest in public service and an insatiable appetite for travel lured me into serving 27 months in the U.S. Peace Corps in Ghana, West Africa as an agriculture volunteer. There I discovered my deep-seated passion for community development and the degree to which food ties us all together. Fast forward a couple years and here I am, serving for the next year in your community.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the FoodCorps’ mission, we are an organization that aims to connect kids to healthy food in school, so they can lead healthier lives and reach their full potential. We achieve this mission through three types of activities: hands-on lessons in the classroom concerning gardening and nutrition, working with school foodservice providers to provide our students with healthy school meals and create a cafeteria that steers students towards the healthiest options, and by creating a school wide culture of health including everybody from teachers to the community members that live in the area.
You’ll more than likely see me around town and on the school campuses — please stop and say “hi” if I don’t get to you first. I’m looking forward to meeting you all and getting some good work done!
Welcome back! School is officially back in session here at Julian Elementary, and we are looking forward to our best year yet in the school garden. (Thanks once again to the Sage Garden Project for funding! You folks are the very best!)
Emily finished up the signage for the native plant trail!
Emily also found an amazing volunteer to build a heavy-duty trellis for our grapes, creating a shady, whimsical tunnel for kids to walk through between the lunch tables and the playground.
In closing, I’d like to revisit the original objective was for this blog: to make a case for school gardens from every possible angle. Here’s yet another compelling reason for a school garden:
On the first day of school we have an orientation for parents new to the school. All of our administrators and program directors warmly welcome new families as we explain all of the resources we offer. I had a few minutes to talk about our garden, and at the end of the meeting, I invited parents to go out for a short tour.
As I was walking around with one of the new families, the mom told me that they had seen the garden on their first visit to the school months ago. They were won over by many things at our wonderful district but “it was seeing the school garden that finally convinced us that this was the place we wanted our kids to go to school.”