SVHC Member Update: Tawna

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Tawna-Website-PhotoTawna Vargo
Sacred Heart Community Services

I felt very fortunate to land a job so soon after graduating college. I had been asked before if going to college for Environmental Studies is as worth it, as say, biochemistry, where the path to getting a job seems straightforward. When I began working for La Mesa Verde, only 4 months after graduating college, I realized it was everything I had been wanting to do and very much related to my studies. Urban gardening is the transformation of landscape to be beneficial for individuals and the community at large. When people are able to grow their own food that want to, and understand the healing properties associated with producing your own organic food, we are creating a new food system. The members of La Mesa Verde understand this, and each new community member that steps up to a leadership role becomes an agent for change in our food system.

Right off the bat I was facilitating community meetings to see who was interested in taking on more leadership within the program. I have always had a passion for popular education and being able to practice what you believe in in the workplace is a blessing. I loved that the program aims to create leaders who share a passion for food justice and will hopefully one day run the program. Americorps was a perfect mix of office work and outdoor physical labor. I regularly interacted with program participants but was also given a lot of programatic responsibilities. At the end of my 12 months I was coordinating events, training new members and taking on a larger role within the organization. Americorps gave me the opportunity to turn my studies into a work experience where my limits and beliefs were challenged and I was able to grow tremendously. Environmental Studies is the study of relationship to place. When I get to see people everyday expanding their opportunities to turn their spaces into functional, beautiful gardens and also fighting for food justice in their communities, then I feel like I have chosen the right place to be working.

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