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Hi, my name is Hannah Bernstein. I am a senior at Athens High School and a new intern for Rural Action’s Sustainable Agriculture program. I have been involved with Rural Action for four years, starting as a counselor for the Sunday Creek Watershed Camp under Joe Brehm and the Environmental Education Team. I am also one of the leaders of the Athens High School Youth Climate Action Team (AHS YCAT). Pre-pandemic, AHS YCAT led environmental education days at the high school, middle school, and various elementary schools. We also set up a couple of zero-waste events with the Zero Waste team before schools closed and we went virtual. I hope to connect YCAT with the Sustainable Ag team so that we can learn more about our local food systems and connect the community youth to the agricultural community.

Hannah teaching with the YCAT team at Athens Middle School

As an intern, I am really excited to learn more about our local food system and producers. Oftentimes, unless someone lives on a farm or knows a family member who is involved in agriculture, there is a disconnect between consumers and producers. This disconnect needs to be addressed if we hope to reduce our carbon footprint and also address food insecurity as a nation.

Food insecurity is a local issue as well as a national issue. It is also an issue I am pretty familiar with and am planning to study in college. According to the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio, “Athens County is the most food-insecure county in Ohio, with 20.4% citizens suffering from food insecurity, compared to the national average of 14% and the state average of 16%.” This statistic has probably gone up with people losing their jobs and homes due to the pandemic. It is also something that I hope to learn more about as it continually surprises me that a food-producing area can still have food insecure people.

I am excited and grateful for this opportunity to be working with the Sustainable Ag team. If I was an item of produce, I would be a tomato because they are my favorite food, and also if I forget my sunscreen, I can look like a tomato!

The Athens High School Youth Climate Action team at last year’s retreat (Hannah on far right)


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