Growing Closer at Valley Elementary

Last Wednesday I had my last scheduled program as an AmeriCorps member. My final garden club meeting at Valley Elementary had the highest attendance of students and parents of all nights this summer. My goal for my year of service was to leave the NFV school district a little better than I found it, in regards to health and wellness. I can confidently say that through the work and collaboration on the Valley Elementary School Garden, I have achieved this goal. As I watched the families walk away with bags full of tomatoes, zucchini, and cucumbers, I quickly remembered all of the steps taken and people who made this harvest party possible. Together, we grow healthy kids. Continue reading

That New Food Look

What do I love most about working with kids? They’re honest. When they think your food samples smell funny, they let you know. If you draw a mango tree and they think it’s beautiful, they tell you. They express their feelings in the most genuine way that even when the comment is negative you appreciate they’re telling the truth. If a student is not telling you how they feel, you usually have a pretty good idea by the look on their face. Continue reading

Summer in Winter

The school garden beds in Oelwein are blanketed in snow and ice, and the sub-zero temperatures today seem so distant from the heat and humidity of the Northeast Iowa summer.  I have been filling up on roots: turnips, carrots, and potatoes.  Storage crops grown by local farmers this past season are keeping me nourished and warm during this season of sleep.  I am so lucky to have access to healthy, local food.  I am so privileged to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day. Continue reading

National AmeriCorps Week!

It’s National AmeriCorps Week!


If you’re not familiar with the AmeriCorps organization, what their members do, or why it matters, I would love to spread the word. Knowledge is power, people! Continue reading

Tackling After-school Programs

I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t have a lot of experience with after-school programming. It’s such a different animal from anything in the classroom or during the school day. It takes a little more energy, a lot more patience, and an acceptance of chaos. Let’s be honest, outside of the structure of the school day, kids are ready to play and they’ll knock down anyone standing between them and their afternoon snack. Throw your hands up with me and embrace whatever shenanigans come your way. Continue reading