1. Just ask our alums (who stick around!)
Many service members have moved to Arkansas to serve a year with FoodCorps and ended up staying much longer than they planned. Rachel Spencer moved from Georgia in 2011 to serve in Marshall during our inaugural year and then spent two years as our Arkansas fellow, helping to support and train all of the service members in the state. Now she is pursuing a graduate degree in Agricultural Economics at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville. Ally Mrachek moved from the west coast to serve with Fayetteville School District in 2012 and has been working for the district as a Nutrition Supervisor since her term ended. Jade Salzman moved from Ohio to Little Rock in 2012 and continues to work as a Parent Coordinator for the Little Rock School District. For these alums, Arkansas is their Land of Opportunity and it can be yours too!
2. Abundant natural beauty and outdoor activities at your fingertips!
Our service members wax poetic about Arkansas’ landscape. Lacey Cornell, serving in Marshall, says she’s never lived in a more beautiful place. Emily Olsen in Huntsville watches the sun rise over the mountains on her drive to school every morning. For outdoor fun you can take to the Razorback Regional Greenway, a 36-mile mixed-use trail that connects 6 downtowns from Bentonville to Fayetteville. Or to truly get away from it all, you can go hiking or canoeing along the Buffalo National River, 135 miles of protected waterway that flows through the heart of the Ozark Mountains.
3. Diversity: Practice your Spanish in Springdale!
“Although we are in the South, there are a surprising diversity of cultures. Whether it’s hole in the wall restaurants, festivals in old hippie towns, or farmers markets, Arkansas is a place where people from around the world are gathering and sharing traditions,” service member Stephanie Fegley says. She’s serving in Springdale, a town of 70,000 people where the growing population of Latino and Marshallese immigrants are transforming Northwest Arkansas. The majority of students at the three FoodCorps sites in Springdale are English Language Learners. Applicants with an ability to speak Spanish are in high demand!
4. The Cost of Living is Low….
Our $17,500 living stipend goes much farther in Arkansas than it does in California. #justsayin
5. ….And the Love is High
“Friendly,” “kind,” “caring,” and “welcoming” are the words our service members use to describe the Arkansans they’ve encountered during their time in the state. This spills over into their professional lives, where people from like-minded organizations are willing to offer advice and share their knowledge and expertise in order to support our service members’ efforts.
6. Make a Big Impact
“With a real need for the work FoodCorps service members do, combined with the drive and excitement from the communities we work with, there is opportunity to make a big impact here!” says Andie Hession, serving in Marshall.
7. A Food Festival for Every Season
Arkansas is home to some incredible food festivals, including the Chocolate Lovers’ Festival in Eureka Springs, Gumbo Fest in West Memphis, the Alma Spinach Festival, the World Championship Squirrel Cookoff in Bentonvlle, Strawberry Festival in Cabot, Jewish Food & Cultural Festival in Little Rock, Purple Hull Pea Festival and World Championship Rotary in Emerson, the Armadillo Festival in Hamburg, BeanFest and Championship Outhouse Races in Mountain View, Johnson County Peach Festival in Clarksville, the Hope Watermelon Festival, and the Atkins Picklefest! Serving with FoodCorps Arkansas is a great opportunity to learn about Southern food cultures and attend all these festivals in the name of “research.”
8. Choose Your Own Adventure
“Since farm to school and the Department of Ag are still pretty new in Arkansas, there are tons of opportunities for responsibility and professional growth. You can really define your own service term,” says Kelso Brasunas, our service member in Little Rock.
9. A Long-Growing Season
6-8 months of fresh vegetables and fruit! Who couldn’t live with that?