Cultivating Change and Connection: Reflecting on the FOLCS Kindred Gathering
Nonprofit Management: Alumni Profiles$th_heading>
FoodCorps service members implement hands-on programming every day, often in nonprofit settings. With that experience in hand, they are prepared to hold leadership positions in nonprofits, guiding the strategic and administrative direction of programs much like the ones they implemented through their service. Many alumni go on to become leaders at their own service sites, partner organizations, and beyond.
Youth and Schools Manager at Growing Hope, MI'16
Jeff has dedicated his post-college career to advocating for and partnering in building healthier communities across Michigan, serving with AmeriCorps VISTA in Traverse City and FoodCorps for two years in Flint. In his newest role at Growing Hope, a nonprofit in Ypsilanti that aims to improve the well-being of community members through gardening and healthy food access, Jeff continues this work by partnering with Ypsilanti schools in farm to school efforts. He conducts gardening and nutrition lessons with students, develops leaders in the food movement through a teen mentor program, and helps to build an educational space for field trips on an urban farm. Jeff sees the impact of his work as kids line up in anticipation to ride the bike blender and make fresh, local fruit smoothies, and as teens in his program encourage their families to try new recipes with fresh fruits and vegetables.
Without FoodCorps I would not have the skills and knowledge to work with youth and the community to work together and make a change. These may be small changes, but they incrementally build towards a larger impact in our world today.
Jeff Martin, Youth and Schools Manager at Growing Hope, MI'16
Executive Director, Cloud City Conservation Center, AR'15, '16
Emily joined Cloud City Conservation Center (C4) in December 2019 as the Executive Director. The organization’s mission is to inspire stewardship of our natural resources by creating educational opportunities and lasting community infrastructure in Leadville and Lake County, Colorado. C4’s vision is “Healthy Planet, Healthy People.” The organization provides direct services and education around energy efficiency, waste reduction and sustainable food for all Lake County residents while partnering with community organizations to build a more sustainable and resilient Lake County. As part of its sustainable food work, C4 operates the county’s only produce farm. Growing at 10,152 feet above sea level comes with its own set of challenges — the farm only gets about 30 frost-free days on average — but C4 is committed to supporting healthy food access in the community. As an ED of a small organization, Emily plays a role in almost everything the organization does, from helping with harvest on the farm to developing recycling resources for the county waste department.
My service wasn’t about bringing my culture to my service site but rather listening and learning and helping my service site implement their own ideas. I do this almost every day in my job now — it’s not my role to come up with the ideas but rather to figure out how to make my community’s ideas and vision come to life.
Emily Olsen, Executive Director, Cloud City Conversation Center, AR'15, '16