Tag Archives: youth volunteers

Notes from the Farm: Wrapping up Summer and Prepping for Fall

It’s hard to believe that August is here already. The summer sure has flown by this year!

It was a busy summer at the HON Urban Farm!
It was a busy summer at the HON Urban Farm!

The summer months yielded an impressive amount of produce this year, and we’ve been busy harvesting bushels and bushels of peppers, tomatoes, corn, and cucumbers for the past few weeks. Of course, all of the produce we harvest at the Urban Farm will be donated to Hands On Nashville’s nonprofit partners throughout Middle Tennessee.

I hope that you and your families were able to enjoy a break from school and work at some point over the summer. As most of you probably know, children in the Metro Nashville Public School system returned to classes on August 1. Given the early start date this year, all of our summer programming finished up at the end of July.

Out at the Farm, we are beginning to focus on our plans for this fall. But before we jump into that, I want to take a moment to share some of our many successes from this summer with you!

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Crop City campers learning about nutrition and healthy eating.

As I have reported over the course of the last few updates, we hosted a five-week nutrition curriculum at the Farm this summer called Crop City. We had close to 900 children come out to participate in the Crop City program this year and it was a huge success, thanks in large part to our outstanding team of Urban Farm Apprentices. These 15 high school students did an amazing job leading Crop City participants this summer and we hope that some of them will come back next year.

In the meantime, we are very lucky to have three of those Apprentices participating in our 2013-2014 Fellowship Program! They will join seven other high school students to implement service projects at nonprofits across the city throughout the school year. All ten Fellows are introduced in our most recent Farm blogpost.

That pretty much covers it from here! Have a wonderful August and, as always, feel free to send me an email if you have any questions or concerns.

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Our wonderful Urban Farm 2013 team takes a break to pose for a group shot.

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Headshots 42 colorJosh Corlew is Hands On Nashville’s Urban Agriculture Program Manager. He oversees the organization’s efforts to engage volunteers in service opportunities that empower them to gain gardening skills, learn about healthy eating choices, and help address our city’s food access issues. An AmeriCorps alumnus, Josh also has a secret past life as a Trekkie (he’s a big fan of the TV series Star Trek, for the uninitiated among us), and he has been known to participate in death-defying canoe trips.

Serving as a Volunteer Leader at Backfield In Motion

JaxSeniorGuest Post by Jackson Oglesby
HON Youth Volunteer

Jackson Oglesby, a recent MLK Magnet High School graduate, has been a youth volunteer leader for the past year, leading a weekly four-hour tutoring project with Backfield In Motion.

The first time I volunteered with Backfield in Motion, a local mentoring program, I was in awe. When I initially signed up to mentor 80-plus middle school-aged boys, I prepared myself for craziness. Reflecting on my own middle school experience, I expected to walk into a chaotic room.

To my surprise, upon my first hour working with the kids, I discovered that these boys were not only incredibly polite, but also extremely eager to learn. Seeing how they acted in a classroom environment, I realized that they were more mature than a lot of my high school classmates!

After three years of dedication to Backfield in Motion, I can say that these are some of the best kids I have ever seen. Every Saturday the boys came in prepared and ready to participate. They cleaned up after themselves and were extremely respectful in the classroom. In the course of the three years I volunteered with Backfield, there were few instances where I witnessed a crazy classroom. For the most part, these kids were the perfect students. In fact, most Saturdays, I was the one who felt unprepared. It was a major challenge to re-learn a lot of the course material I hadn’t studied since my own middle school days.

Inside and outside of the classroom, the kids treated me with as much respect as one of their teachers. Not only did they listen to me when I offered individual help, but they also included me in personal conversations outside of the classroom. Volunteering with Backfield not only gave me a new-found respect for teachers, but also helped me to realize how beneficial and essential programs like Backfield are to making positive changes in the community.

>Click here to learn more about HON volunteer projects for youth and teens!

Volunteer Spotlight: Chung Chow

head shotChung Chow knows food. This 25 year old self-described “military brat” makes her living working as a restaurant manager at an upscale sports bar here in Nashville and spends most of her free time sampling the fare at the city’s many eateries.

It is that same strong passion for all things cooking and food that has driven much of her volunteer work here in Music City as well.

Born in North Carolina and raised in nearby Clarksville, Chung relocated to Nashville just last year. Like so many new arrivals and transplants, she was looking for ways to meet new people and get involved in community service. With some encouragement from her mother, an avid volunteer herself, Chung began researching volunteer opportunities through Hands On Nashville (HON).

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Chung and her students working on a new dish together.

It didn’t take long to find her first opportunity. Within a week, she was volunteering at Second Harvest Food Bank, where she was welcomed with open arms by Second Harvest’s staff and her fellow volunteers. That initial opportunity, which she considers her most memorable volunteer project to date, made Chung realize that volunteering in an area that she loves can make for a much more meaningful service experience.

So, with a minor in Culinary Arts from Austin Peay State University (where she also currently holds an adjunct professor position) and three years of experience as a pastry chef prior to the transition into restaurant management, Chung took her considerable talents and expertise and began serving as a skilled volunteer at the Margaret Maddox YMCA.

There, she teaches a regular cooking course at the teen center that educates youth on the importance of healthy eating and portion control. Chung takes great pride in being able to pass along her food knowledge to young people, helping them make smart choices about what they eat.

“I take suggestions from the students on what foods they love most and make substitutions to make it healthier,” she says. “Teaching and seeing the kids enjoy the food they prepare is very rewarding.”

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Just one of the many meals Chung and her students put together at the Margaret Maddox YMCA.

With two jobs and a busy schedule, Chung admits that finding time to volunteer can sometimes be a challenge. But after gaining so much from volunteering through HON, she’s determined not to allow that to become a deterrent.

“Volunteering with HON has been a wonderful experience,” Chung notes. “It’s a great way to get involved with the community and meet people that you wouldn’t have (met) otherwise. After all, we live in the Volunteer State!”

>To find out how you can help your local YMCA, click here!

Introducing the 2013-2014 Urban Agriculture Fellows

This unique service-learning opportunity places ten awesome high school students at nonprofit gardens across Nashville. After a highly competitive application process, ten outstanding teens were selected to serve as the Urban Agriculture Fellows of 2013. Without further ado, here are our new Fellows!
akhila_fellowAkhila Ashakan is a junior at Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High School. She enjoys volunteering and helping out in her community. Her passion is writing. She looks forward to working at Hands On Nashville this year.
alexAlex Benick is a senior at Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School. He enjoys writing and playing music in bands around Nashville as well as reading casually in his leisure time. On most days you can find him sitting in Fido drinking Chai Lattes.
Carson_fellow_2013Carson Thomas is a junior at the University School of Nashville. She interned over the summer at HON’s Urban Farm, leads USN’s environmental club, and is a member of USN’s Student Sustainability Initiative. In addition to writing and listening to music, Carson also enjoys long walks on the beach.
Emma_fellow_2013Emma Fischer is a junior at Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High School. She enjoys gardening, carpentry, writing and spending time with friends. She spent the past summer as an Apprentice at the Urban Farm, while working lights at the Nashville Children’s Theater. Go Royals!
emily_fellowEmily Kerinuk is a senior at Father Ryan High School. She is the new captain of the Irish bowling team and spent the month of June at Tennessee’s Governors School for the Humanities. Her favorite animal is the sea turtle and she loves hiking.
katherine_fellow_2013Katherine Knowles is a senior at Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School and is an event organizer for her Environmental Action Club. She is passionate about music, cooking, books, nature, and helping others. Katherine aspires to be a sustainable systems designer on a city-scale.
maddyMaddy Underwood is a junior at Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School. She regularly visits The Nashville Farmers Market and is part of a community supported agriculture program. She loves to volunteer and is eager to use her love of design and interest in urban renewal to help out the community.
Sara_FellowSara Shaghaghi is a senior at Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High School and was a fellow in the Urban Agriculture Spring Fellowship. She enjoys volunteering and helping others. Sara hopes to one day open an urban farm in a community in Costa Rica in order to give back to the environment and she cannot wait to work with Hands On Nashville this year.
shu_fellowShu Zhang is currently a senior at Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High School. She loves to read and make crafts, and she is curious about how she can help the community. Shu hopes to own a chicken and a dog one day.
simonSimon Cooper is excited to be starting his sophomore year at Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School. He is also ecstatic to be participating in HON’s Urban Agriculture fellowship this year. Simon loves to learn new things and stay as busy as possible, and his interests include swimming, current events, and architecture.

VolunTEEN: My Last Day as a HON Youth Leader

Guest Post by Emily McAndrew
HON VolunTEEN Summer Youth Leader

Emily headshotEmily McAndrew, a rising junior at Merrol Hyde Magnet School, is one of the four inaugural Summer Youth Leaders. During the four summer service weeks this year, Emily led service learning opportunities that address hunger.

On July 18, I led my last project with Hands On Nashville at St. Luke’s Community House. Although bittersweet, it was one of my best projects because it reminded me why I wanted to give my summer to service in the first place.

At St. Luke’s, we helped both senior citizens and preschoolers. My team consisted of a group of three high school boys and they were amazing! They were constantly making jokes and putting smiles on everyone’s faces. Seeing the boys make everyone smile made me realize that service is not always about just getting the job done, but also about making an impact and connecting with others.

Much like my internship, the three hour project went by much too quickly. I wish I had more time to cherish with this organization and the people involved in it, but I have gained immeasurable experience and hope that I have taught Nashville’s youth about the value of service learning too.

Thanks to everyone who has been involved in my amazing summer with Hands on Nashville!

Learn more about HON’s VolunTEEN program here

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Emily’s service work at St. Luke’s Community House included plenty of smiles!

VolunTEEN: Not Simply a Chore

ferriss headshot1Guest Post by Ferriss Bailey
HON VolunTEEN Summer Youth Leader

Ferriss Bailey, a rising senior at Montgomery Bell Academy, is one of the four inaugural Summer Youth Leaders. During the four summer service weeks, Ferriss leads service learning opportunities that address the environment.

The BELL Garden at Bellevue Middle School is a large, educational garden that is run by Liz Meeks and sustained with volunteer help. The garden contains more plants than most people even know exist, and it is a wonderful educational tool for students. However, it takes a substantial amount of work to keep it lush and thriving.

In my time as a Summer Youth Leader, I have been fortunate enough to lead four projects at BELL with volunteers of all different ages and backgrounds. Together, the volunteers and I enjoyed weeding, harvesting, and sometimes, even eating in the different beds.

One project particularly stands out in my mind when I think of my time at Bell. I was leading four volunteers, all of whom were around my age. We worked extremely hard, but it seemed like nothing! While we worked, we talked about our different schools and told funny stories, and by the end we had become great friends.

Certain projects like BELL can be extremely hard, especially when you are working in the hot sun. However, BELL and the other challenging projects are not simply a means to an end, but a great way to meet amazing people while doing important and impactful work.

Learn more about HON’s youth leader programs here!

Liz Meeks teaches volunteers how to properly water plants at the BELL Garden.
Liz Meeks teaches volunteers how to properly water plants at the BELL Garden.

VolunTEEN: A Meal Ready to Serve

Corey headshotGuest Post by Corey Wu
HON VolunTEEN Summer Youth Leader

Corey Wu, a rising junior at John Overton High School, is one of the four inaugural Summer Youth Leaders. During the four summer service weeks, Corey leads service learning opportunities that address homelessness.

Spending time at The Nashville Food Project (TNFP) has made me really appreciate individuals who devote their time and effort in the name of helping the less fortunate. Their organization is a fairly new one compared to Hands On Nashville. However, TNFP’s presence in the Nashville area is a successful one that I deeply admire.

TNFP is a nonprofit organization that is solely dedicated to feeding the hungry and the needy. The Food Project’s main customers are people who are living in assisted government housing and people who are struggling to make ends meet. They keep their organization running by maintaining a garden full of fresh vegetables and purchasing nearly-expired food items by the pound for discounted prices. They cook their purchased produce as soon as possible, and all of the meals and dishes are created by their dedicated chefs and, of course, our volunteers.

Leading a group of volunteers at their location gives everyone a large range of tasks to do. Whether it is washing collard greens or cutting roasted chicken, every volunteer has something to do during the two hours of work. Many of the volunteers, especially the younger ones, enjoy getting their hands dirty in the garden. Personally speaking, I enjoy baking brownies and cutting the poultry just because it makes me feel like a chef.

Determination and compassion are two adjectives that I think of when describing the folks at TNFP. After a long day of cooking and preparing, their hard work truly pays off when they deliver their homemade goods to grateful individuals.

Learn more about HON’s VolunTEEN program here!

corey.wheelchair ramp
Corey hard at work constructing a wheelchair ramp.

VolunTEEN: What the Future Looks Like

Emily headshotGuest Post by Emily McAndrew,
HON VolunTEEN Summer Youth Leader

Emily McAndrew, a rising junior at Merrol Hyde Magnet School, is one of the four inaugural Summer Youth Leaders. During the four summer service weeks, Emily leads service learning opportunities that address hunger.

When thinking of the future, many adults fear that the new generation is too lazy, too self-centered, or too unenthusiastic to lead the nation. But in spending the past three weeks around teens who voluntarily give up their time to serve others, I can say without a doubt that this generation is ready to build a bright future.

I wasn’t sure what to expect on the day of my first project. I was worried that the teens wouldn’t like me or that they wouldn’t listen to me. But as the volunteers came in, my fears were diminished. They were all here to serve and have fun just like myself!

I have led kids from all different backgrounds. Most of them have volunteered at multiple HON VolunTEEN projects. Through getting to work with these teens at different times, I have gotten to know some of them pretty well. Each volunteer brings a different aspect to the group, but I have learned that they each share one thing in common: a desire to make a difference.

Although the nation may have a preconceived notion that all teenagers are unfit to be the leaders of tomorrow, I have learned differently. I have met the most hard-working and selfless youth working with HON. These volunteers are our future.

Learn more about HON’s youth leader programs here!

Youth volunteers taking a quick break at Second Harvest Food Bank.
Youth volunteers taking a quick break at Second Harvest Food Bank.

Notes from the Farm: Summertime Activity in Full Swing

By Josh Corlew, Hands On Nashville Urban Agriculture Program Manager

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Crop City participants show off some of the recently-harvested garlic

Welcome to summer!

We hope all of you had a wonderful Fourth of July holiday in the company of good friends, loving family, and (of course) delicious food!

Out at the Farm, these long summer days and warm summer nights are translating into a big growth spurt for many of our crops. Plenty of garlic has already been pulled, the tomatoes and peppers will provide a steady harvest for the next month and a half, our sunflowers are beaming, and the bush beans are taking off like wildfire.

There have also been some pretty significant changes made on the grounds of the Urban Farm over the course of the past month or so as well. Most notably, we have completed installation of the Butterfly Garden between our vegetable fields. This beautiful space will provide a great habitat for all of the beneficial insects that help make our vegetables healthy and happy. We encourage visitors to come enjoy the view of the new garden from one of the nearby swing sets!

Apprentices lead Crop City participants through a brainstorming game.
Apprentices lead Crop City participants through a brainstorming game.

As we mentioned in our last update, the summer youth development program Crop City is in full swing and will continue to take place every weekday until July 19. Over 200 youth come out to the Farm every week to participate in Crop City and learn about sustainable growing and the importance of healthy eating.

Overseeing all of this activity and leading the programming for Crop City is our talented team of 15 Urban Farm Apprentices. Our Apprentices have been doing an amazing job running the program and engaging Crop City campers while also gaining valuable leadership skills, and the program certainly would not be the success that it is without them!

Click here to learn more about each of these outstanding high school students who are making a real difference this summer.

Sifting compost is just one of many activities planned for the upcoming Urban Farm Summer Camp.
Sifting compost is just one of many activities planned for the upcoming Urban Farm Summer Camp.

Finally, we will be offering an Urban Farm Summer Camp program from July 22 to July 26 for 9- to 13-year old boys and girls. This curriculum for this camp will be very similar to that of Crop City, and it will also be led by our Apprentices. Participants will be immersed in an experienced-based learning environment full of delicious vegetables, colorful flowers, and a variety of fun and educational games. We’d love to have you join us for this fun and educational experience so click here to learn more and sign up!

And of course, if you have any other questions about the Urban Farm, please email me at josh@hon.org. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more Farm updates throughout the growing season!

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josh2Josh Corlew is Hands On Nashville’s Urban Agriculture Program Manager. He oversees the organization’s efforts to engage volunteers in service opportunities that empower them to gain gardening skills, learn about healthy eating choices, and help address our city’s food access issues. An AmeriCorps alumnus, Josh also has a secret past life as a Trekkie (he’s a big fan of the TV series Star Trek, for the uninitiated among us), and he has been known to participate in death-defying canoe trips.

VolunTEEN: The Pencil Foundation

Runze headshotGuest Post by Runze Zhang,
HON VolunTEEN Summer Youth Leader

Runze Zhang, a rising junior at Martin Luther King High Academic Magnet School, is one of four inaugural  Summer Youth Leaders. During the four summer service weeks, Runze leads service learning opportunities that address health and wellness.

Leading volunteer projects has been wonderful to say the least. The opportunities provided by Hands On Nashville have allowed me to develop leadership skills and form friendships as well.

My projects revolve around health and wellness, which I am most interested in. In addition to sharing information about healthy living with others, I have learned some valuable lessons on the topic myself.

One of my best experiences so far was sorting school supplies with the Pencil Foundation, during which I focused on mental health. All of the volunteers served eagerly and diligently and showed great teamwork. Although they were all under the age of eighteen, the volunteers understood the purpose and importance of the project — providing free school supplies to teachers. Kim, the Pencil Foundation project supervisor, infected everyone with her enthusiasm and motivated me to continue working with the foundation.

After leading several projects as a youth leader for Hands On Nashville, I have realized my passion for volunteering and helping others, and they are both things that I hope to maintain for the rest of my life.

Learn more about HON’s VolunTEEN program here!

LP_Pencil
Volunteers sort donated school supplies for the Pencil Foundation.