Top 10 Reasons You Should Serve In North Carolina

Major shout out to the authors of this top 10 List and their NC Pride:  Amber Ellis and Marissa Finn

Through FoodCorps, you have the opportunity to connect kids to real food in communities from Maine to Hawaii. With 18 state partners to choose from, how in the world are you supposed to choose a state to serve in? Here are ten of the best reasons you should consider North Carolina (we’re not biased at all…)!

1. The beach AND the mountains

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Wrightsville Beach; Source: Amber Ellis
A photo from our state orientation in the mountains of Western North Carolina!; Source: Caroline Stover

In North Carolina, you can swim the ocean in the east and hike the Appalachians in the west! Tons of wilderness and beauty abound throughout our state, and it will all be at your fingertips.

2. A music scene as expansive as the geography

Eric Church; Source: Wiki Commons TownsquareMedia

Love music?  Some of the world’s best musicians have come from North Carolina, and the concert scene is bumpin’!  Examples include:

J. Cole
Eric Church
James Taylor
Randy Travis
Avett Brothers
Carolina Chocolate Drops
Etta Baker
Doc Watson
Petey Pablo
Ben E. King
Ben Folds
Scotty McCreery
Nina Simone
Charlie Daniels

3. Cultural diversity (and the food that comes with it!)

Some spices at Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe during an Indian cooking class at our 2015 end of year gathering with all FoodCorps NC service members; Source: Marissa Finn

North Carolina is home to roughly 10 million people, each with their own story of culture and food.  From Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe in Chapel Hill to Calabash-fried shrimp in Brunswick County, there are countless restaurants serving up unique flavors.

4. You can grow collards all year long!

Collard activities; Source: Marissa Finn

While some tastes in North Carolina might surprise you, we’ve also got those “traditionally Southern” dishes as well – things like… collard greens! AND, because the Carolina climate encourages three or four seasons of gardening each year, you’ll have plenty of collards for experimenting with fun new recipes.

5. The potatoes are sweet and the BBQ is pork

Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes from the school garden; Source: Marissa Finn

… Because you’ll need something to eat all those collards with. The east/west BBQ rivalry in NC is real, y’all (and so is the BBQ rivalry between the authors of this blog). Round out the meal with some local sweet potatoes, North Carolina’s number one agricultural product and service members’ number one vegetable to grow and eat with kids.

6. Sports!

UNC vs Duke Basketball; Source: Wikimedia Anders94
UNC vs Duke Basketball; Source: Wiki Commons Anders94

If the BBQ rivalry excites you, the legendary Duke/UNC basketball match up will keep you lit – just ask Michael Jordan. This NC native got his start here, you know. And if basketball’s not your thing, the ACC (born and still based in Greensboro, North Carolina) has 15 schools competing in 24 other sports competitions. Not into college sports? We’ve STILL got you covered. We’re home to the Carolina Hurricanes, the Charlotte Hornets, and the Carolina Panthers aka 2016’s soon-to-be winning Super Bowl team (no big deal, #keeppounding).

7. Southern hospitality, y’all!

Source: Amber Ellis

All that competitive spirit doesn’t keep us from being genuine people with generous souls. North Carolinians are the first to welcome folks with sweet tea, a cake of cornbread, and a grandmotherly hug in exchange for some good conversation. Preferably on a porch.

8. The Food[corps] Network

The Network
FoodCorps North Carolina Crew 2015

You’ll have a support system of friends (FoodCorps and beyond) across the state who will get together monthly for conferences, potlucks, meetings, cooking classes, or whatever else we can dream up in 2016-2017.

9. Professional Development

Carolina Meat Conference
NC Choices’ Meat for Market Workshop in Raleigh, NC; Source: Caroline Stover

Have you always wanted to learn the ins and outs of beekeeping? Need a bio class for the Masters you plan to pursue? FoodCorps is committed to our service members’ professional development, and North Carolina’s network of colleges and vocational schools will ensure you find the opportunities you’re looking for. We’re also home to some of the coolest conferences around, like Kudzu Camp, the Carolina Meat Conference, and CFSA’s Sustainable Agriculture Conference.

10. The State Fair

Source: Wiki Commons Melizabethi123

The State Fair will give you a glimpse into all that our state has to offer, with everything from racing pigs to an antique tractor show. And sometimes, after spending the week as a vegetable cheerleader, you just need some Howling Cow ice cream with fried cheesecake on the side.

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About Amber Ellis, Feast Down East
Growing up in the mountains of western North Carolina, Amber was blessed with opportunities to learn about where her food came from and how it was produced. She spent many summer hours in the canning kitchens and garden plots of her grandmother and great-grandmother, and those special times led her to appreciate the physical and symbolic value of food, community, and the intersections of the two. During Amber’s four years at Williams College, this appreciation only grew. She was welcomed into the dining services family, where she worked throughout her undergraduate experience. These collective experiences gave Amber a passion for understanding where and from who food comes from, and it is important to her that everyone has the opportunity to make such connections. Though Amber is not yet sure where she’ll be ten years from now, she hopes to be facilitating those kinds of opportunities.

About Marissa Finn, Guilford County Cooperative Extension
When Marissa was a little girl, she threw her bottle and pacifier down the stairs and begged for “real food.” More than two decades later, her passion for real food has grown into a part of her everyday life. Marissa graduated in May 2014 with a Masters in Food Studies from NYU, where she focused her research on school food politics and Hispanic and Latino food cultures in New York City. She has taught children’s nutrition, cooking and gardening classes for the past five years, but her hands-on experiences with FoodCorps have been her most profound and rewarding. In the long run, Marissa is trying to figure out how she can balance an interest in politics and federal nutrition assistance programs with an interest in hands-on work with kids.