Youth Intern Trip to DC

Posted by on Apr 19, 2019 | Comments Off on Youth Intern Trip to DC

Youth Intern Trip to DC

by Rodrigo Nunez

Thanks to City Schoolyard Garden, I was able to attend the Teen Earth Optimism event in Washington DC to represent CSG with my fellow youth interns. I had thought the community of teenagers interested in healthy eating and food justice was small, but I found many teenagers from various backgrounds and ages who were also passionate about food justice and community gardens. In a discussion panel, I learned some of the reasons of why some teens decide to become vegetarians or vegans, how cultures of families affect the types of meals they regularly eat and what it’s like for other teens who advocate for food justice and for the environment.

At conversation stations, organizations such as City Schoolyard Garden were given the chance to inform teens about what they do and how teens could get more involved in the community. My peers and I set up an empowerment flag activity to attract teens to talk with. The activity had teens create empowerment flags about food equity and positive phrases that came to their mind about gardening. The flags turned out to be very popular and just what we needed to get attention. I believe the empowerment flag activity made our station and conversations more welcoming to the audience and dispersed any nervousness between my peers and me.

The first teenager I spoke with at the station asked me how they could establish a garden at their school. My initial response was going to be to talk with their principal about creating a garden and talk to the staff of our organization to help, but then I remembered that we were in Washington, not Charlottesville. Thankfully, my supervisor, Shannon Gaffey, was prepared to take over. Ms. Gaffey informed them that getting a group of students together to ask their principal would give them the notion that a school garden is highly desired. Ms. Gaffey also said it would be helpful if they looked around for local organizations to see who would be happy to assist them to get the resources they need. I feel grateful to know that Charlottesville has City Schoolyard Garden to make garden education possible for students and after taking time to reflect on that conversation again, it made me realize how powerful a community really is. City Schoolyard Garden is a community made effort to promote garden education, food justice, and get young teens out to appreciate and work with the environment. The organization would not have been possible without public support and the Teen Earth Optimism event reminded me that our community will always get stronger because it is a project that has been and hopefully will always be supported.

After talking with the teens about City Schoolyard Garden, I was able to look at the other stations there. One station taught teens about how much food is wasted at college campuses and how they aimed to save food that would have been wasted for meals. Another station informed my peers and me about which pollinator plants attract certain pollinators. It was fun learning about the other organizations that promote food equity and protect the environment.

I am grateful to have been able to attend the Teen Earth Optimism Event and share the objective of the organization with teens my age. Learning what organizations do to benefit the community makes me proud to be a part of one. I hope everyone has the opportunity to attend a similar event and see how many teens my age really want to help promote food justice and protect the environment and get involved in a local organization themselves.


photo credit: Juan Pablo Hurtado Padilla, NMNH