Wendy West

(530) 621-5533
The Mother Lode Attracts Emerging Leaders in the Farm to School Movement by Keeping it Local Wendy West (530) 621-5533 2014-10-15 UCCE

UCCE and FoodCorps expand their reach in the Central Sierra with locally grown service members!

“Locally grown” has a new meaning for University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) and FoodCorps in the Mother Lode region of the California Foothills. In their second year as a FoodCorps service site, the UCCE, in partnership with Gardens to Grow In, now has two locally grown service members - one in Calaveras and the other in El Dorado.

Now in its fourth year, FoodCorps, a national service organization, recruits and trains a team of emerging leaders to work in underserved areas for a one year term of service, where they focus on FoodCorps’ three pillars: Knowledge of what healthy food is; Engagement with fresh fruits and vegetables in gardens and kitchens; and Access to healthy food from local farms in school cafeterias.

FoodCorps recruits nationally and had well over 1000 applications for the 182 service positions in 16 states and the District of Columbia for the 2014/2015 service term. This year both UCCE service members, Emily Metzger (Calaveras) and Monica Drazba (El Dorado) have Northern California roots.

“One of the goals of FoodCorps is to help build capacity within the communities that they serve.” said Kevin Hesser, co-founder of Gardens to Grow In and a FoodCorps service site supervisor. “By recruiting locally for these positions we will hopefully keep the knowledge, skills and attitude gained through the FoodCorps’ partnership in this community for the long haul so these programs become sustainable.”

Metzger was born and raised in Calaveras County and is a graduate of Bret Harte High School in Angels Camp. She got her BA degree in Liberal Studies/Education at Westmont College in Santa Barbara.

“I went to school with the intention of becoming a school teacher, but then found a real love for growing food and local agriculture,” said Metzger. “I have seen first hand the powerful effects that spending time in the garden and eating local, healthy food can have. Healthy food systems are important to the health of individuals and communities as a whole.”
In El Dorado County, first year FoodCorps service member Monica Drazba is building on her nutrition background and Peace Corps experience to establish a thriving program and set roots of her own.

Drazba was born and raised in Pinole, California. She graduated from UC Davis with a degree in Nutrition Science and a passion for growing food, tending gardens, and building community.

After college, Drazba served twenty-seven months in Fiji as a Community Health Promotion volunteer in the Peace Corps, where she collaborated with the Fijian Ministry of Health to design and implement an Organic Garden Outreach Program to deliver nutrition education to communities and establish vegetable gardens in villages, homes, health centers and hospitals.

Metzger, Drazba, and FoodCorps are part of a growing movement of schools, youth, government and community organizations across the nation that are on the forefront of solving the many social, food insecurity, and diet related health issues plaguing the United States.

For this next year, Metzger and Drazba will be dedicating each of their days to making a positive difference in the lives of one child at a time - planting the seeds to create change, in the hopes of growing a healthy future for all.

See full press release here: Full UCCE Grows with FoodCorps Press Release