AmeriCorps members, with students, teachers, and families in the YMCA and Jefferson Elementary community, joined Rogue Valley Farm to School last month in getting their hands dirty to beautify Jefferson Elementary's school garden. Volunteers worked to reestablish in-ground beds; complete the setup of a greenhouse; and expand two ecosystem beds featuring pollinators and native species.
These efforts were done in the spirit of Make A Difference Day (MADD), a national day of community service that connects people with opportunities to serve, increases the strength of communities, and promotes civic engagement. MADD is celebrated every year on the fourth Saturday in October.
After the day of service, the Jefferson Elementary school garden can continue growing long into the coming seasons, increasing the available growing space as well as student participation.
The day's efforts contributed to all participating organizations’ missions in meaningful ways. United Communities AmeriCorps currently has 17 members serving in four local counties with non-profit and government agencies to mentor youth, increase economic opportunity, and provide nutritional education. Since 1994, over one million AmeriCorps members have contributed more than 1.2 billion service hours across the country while tackling pressing problems and mobilizing millions of volunteers for the organizations they serve.
The passion behind Rogue Valley Farm to School cultivates environmental stewardship, healthy kids, farm relationships, and the local economy. RVF2S has been working with Jefferson Elementary for over three years encouraging teachers and students to use school gardens as an invaluable resource for healthy outdoor habits and experience-based learning. Specifically this year, the partnership is supported through the YMCA’s afterschool garden club. The weekly opportunity offers its student participants time in the garden for learning healthy habits, responsibility, food connections, and an overall well regard for attending school.