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We are so excited to welcome even more new faces to the Sustainable Agriculture team. Recently, Alex Mykulyn, Natalie Ruth, Elizabeth Vigue have joined the team as summer VISTAS. For those of you who are not familiar with the program, AmeriCorps VISTA is a national service program designed to alleviate poverty. With members serving in all U.S. states and territories, VISTA members help local organizations such as Rural Action expand their capacity to make change. Get to know everyone a little here, and then make sure to say hello when you see them at the auction!

Natalie Ruth

What excites you about this work? I’m really looking forward to being able to get a hands-on learning experience with the local food system in the area. It’s exciting to have a helping hand in many stages of food production and distribution from helping grow food at the OU student farm, seeing people buy produce at the Chesterhill Produce Auction, or processing produce for local schools.

What food or agriculture issue do you care most about? I care a lot about the environmental impacts and sustainability of farming. Local food systems solve a lot of the issues global food systems have. Land use, food waste, and nutritional value issues of the global food system have made me passionate about supporting local farmers.

If you were a food, what would you be and why? I would be one of my favorite foods- kale. Kale thrives in the fall & early winter which happens to be my favorite time of the year. While not everyone is a fan of the strong, earthy flavor nobody can deny the superfood qualities that make kale a great addition to your diet.

Alex Mykulyn

What have you been up to the past few years and what brings you to Rural Action? I just graduated from high school in Northeast Pennsylvania and then attended my first year of college online at Monmouth University studying International Relations. I’ve always wanted to work as an Americorps volunteer and when I saw this opportunity to help grow a robust food system during my summer break, I jumped on it.

What excites you about this work? So far I’m really liking the idea of doing something different every day. During our first week, we spent Monday at the Chesterhill Produce Auction helping pack bags for the Buyer’s club and other auction functions. On Tuesday we worked with students at Ohio University in their Student Garden, mostly weeding some garden beds. On Wednesday we spent time at ACEnet processing pounds upon pounds of strawberries for the Farm to School Progam. The diversified daily schedule not only keeps things refreshing, but also gives me a good look into the larger food system in Southeast Ohio.

What food or agriculture issue do you care most about? Access to local food has always been interesting to me. There are so many benefits for the consumer and the grraeter community to eating local and it sounds like a relatively simple thing to do, but in practice it is incredibly complicated.

If you were a food, what would you be and why? That’s a tough one. I would probably be a Jellyroll from the Chesterhill Produce Auction. Likes to hang out in the cold on a hot day and has layers of personality.

Elizabeth Vigue

What have you been up to the past few years and what brings you to Rural Action? I have been attending Marietta College for the past two years, studying political science and economics. I knew I wanted to spend a summer as a VISTA, and the Rural Action position seemed like a great fit. I am from Appalachian Ohio and I love learning about the history of the area and the communities here. I am interested in the field of public health and I have studied food insecurity as both a public health and economic issue. I am so excited to have the opportunity to work in this community!

What excites you about this work? What excites me most is meeting people who work for Rural Action and the various partner organizations. Everyone has such a passion for the work they are doing, which I really appreciate. It has also been super cool to meet people in the community who are able to benefit from the programs that Rural Action has put together. I am also excited because I know there is so much for me to learn from this community.

What food or agriculture issue do you care most about? The food issue I care most about is food deserts and overall food insecurity. It is so important to build infrastructure that makes it easy for people from all socioeconomic backgrounds to live healthy, fulfilling lives.

If you were a food, what would you be and why? If I were a food, I would be a carrot grown at the OU Student Farm because they are such a treasure and are appreciated by many.


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