Hawaii Agriculture Conference
September 25, 2017
By: FoodCorps Service Member Malia Weisskopf
This past August, agricultural leaders from across Hawai'i and beyond convened at the Hawai'i Agriculture Conference, which includes the Farm to School Symposium. I was fortunate enough to attend the Symposium with my 2017 FoodCorps co-hort. We heard from various Farm to School expert panels discussing many topics ranging from sourcing, to procurement, to legislation and more!
Though full of helpful information and resources, there was a particular presentation during the symposium that stuck with me. First, as I entered the large conference hall, I noticed groups of teens dressed in navy blue jackets, holding a large banner with 'FFA' emblazoned across in golden letters. I wondered, “why are they here?” Soon, I'd learn, they were local high schoolers from the Future Farmers of America. This group left an impression upon me because we often assume teenagers want to bury their heads in their phones, lazily watch television for 12 hours, or sleep all day. However, this group of teens came out to show adults that they are here, they are excited about farming, and they want to know more. Nothing could be more inspiring to see.
Furthermore, during the symposium, the Hawai'i Department of Agriculture's Farm to School program awarded FoodCorps Hawai'i with the 2017 Hawai'i Farm to School Laulima Award. Laulima means, "cooperation, joint action; group of people working together," and perfectly describes the hard-working, dedicated cohort of FoodCorps members that dive head-on into public and charter schools across Hawai'i each year. FoodCorps Hawai'i was recognized for contributing to "connecting keiki (children) to healthy and local food in schools" through our service members, partnerships, and local community. Though I may be a new FoodCorps Service Member, this award reinforces the importance of the work we are doing and inspires me to make this year rewarding for our keiki.