My mom has always loved to grow things. She brought us along to greenhouses where we would pick out flowers for our porch, and she would buy in whenever we begged to participate in the Arbor Day sale, even if it meant setting aside a good chunk of the yard for pine trees. And when we were young and she worked part-time, she tended a food garden. All of these were equal in my mind; none of them meant anything besides digging in the dirt and playing with the hose. When her hours pick up and the food garden dropped off, I didn’t even notice. We still ate, and we still played in the dirt. But now I realize the difference, and there is one thing that tree sales and greenhouses didn’t offer me. I literally cannot remember the last time I planted a seed. Continue reading
Great things are happening in Northeast Iowa! Luther College in Decorah, Iowa is a core partner of the Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness and is also dedicated to increasing access to healthy, locally grown food in our region. Through the students and faculty, Luther tries to be a model of healthy living and intentional eating. However, feeding the hungry Norse army is a lofty task. The only way to do it is to make more than enough food. But what happens to the leftovers? Re-serve or compost what you can, but throw away the rest? Continue reading
On November 5th, I set up a table at North Fayette Valley High School during parent-teacher conferences to talk to anyone interested in the work of Food and Fitness in the district. I had plenty of leftover ingredients from a taste test the week before, so I included bike blender smoothies as an attention getter. Continue reading
On October 28, I did my first taste test at North Fayette Valley High School. I knew that my time with the students would be brief, but I still wanted to leave them with knowledge they could use. So I chose to make spinach smoothies! Going into winter, there would be fewer fresh local produce options, but spinach is harvested later into the year. Having them incorporate more spinach into their diets is a good way to keep them thinking local through the cold months. Plus, the school was eager to lend me their special smoothie machines (which I found out are just blenders that aren’t used for anything else)! Continue reading
Mondays are our office days, with meetings in the morning and more to do in the afternoon. It’s important work, but it rarely works out to do anything at school on these days. Decorah is lucky enough to have the Oneota Food Co-op right downtown. This great place celebrates all facets of healthy eating: Local and organic options, bulk items, and the ability to cook! They are so passionate that they have organized “Exploring Foods”, a cooking class for children 3-7 years old.
On October 14, the Co-op employee who organized the class was unable to come, so another AmeriCorps member and I volunteered to go in her place. After picking up the kids at their schools and walking together to the Co-op, we washed our hands and got down to business. Continue reading
Be careful what you wish for – I spent the month of September in contact with my schools, hoping to set up some in-class nutrition lessons. After reaching out to one engaged teacher at North Fayette Elementary, she invited me to meet with the other teachers in the school to make my case. I guess they liked what they heard, because soon I had a teacher asking me to come the following week! And then another. And another. And another. Continue reading
Hi! I’m Jake Geis and I will be the resource contact for North Fayette/Valley, West Central, Starmont, and Riceville. I come from Green Bay, but I spent my college years at Luther before graduating this past spring. I’ve been in the area for a few years now and I’m so happy to be back. While studying, I could always see that there were great things happening here in Northeast Iowa, but I didn’t have the time to get involved. I’m so excited for this position, and the opportunity it allows me to finally engage in this active and passionate community.
I double majored in Environmental Studies and Biology, using my education as time to explore and begin to understand the physical world around me. I love the outdoors, and I am fascinated by Ecology and Sustainability. I find that the values of preservation and responsible, intentional progress are key to Healthy lifestyles as well. During summers, I have served as Camp Staff to help direct program and lead youth in focused curricular activities. It is so great to be able to find outlets which allow me to share my gifts, knowledge, and passion with others, so I’m glad that I was able to find AmeriCorps.
It’s been a very busy couple of weeks with a flood of new information. I’m finding it a lot easier now that I’m physically in the school and gaining context for my many binders. I’m excited to meet more kids and teachers, and to begin doing lessons, singing songs, and getting active with them!