Local Food Champions
Youth Leaders Grow Jobs at Garden City Harvest!
This winter, a group of our past youth employees came together with GCH staff to brainstorm plans for expanding employment opportunities in our youth farming programs, Youth Harvest and Youth Farm. Since the finished construction of our new facility, the River Road Farmstead, GCH staff have been working to design full season jobs for young people. "The Farmstead will allow us the opportunity to expand our work with Missoula teens… so they can really shine as young adults and members of our community" said Jean Zosel, executive director of GCH. One thing that has been missing, however, is a more influential voice from the young people themselves.
A youth research team was formed to advise GCH staff about their professional needs and their ideas for building a more sustainable food system in Missoula. “I want to learn... ‘adulting skills,’ like how to write a resume and… manage my money,” said Jazmyn Saunders, 18, from Big Sky High School. “I’m interested in connecting with different types of people in my community… I want to grow more vegetables for people who cannot afford them” said Zayne Sharrard, 18, from Sentinel High School.
After participating in focus groups and researching other youth farming organizations, the team put together a list of recommendations of how to empower young employees, including hosting community meals that the youth prepare themselves, and youth leading garden workshops at local high schools. The research experience demonstrated the important role youth can play when included in decision-making. Sharrard candidly summed up: “Kids are taught that one day in their future, they’ll be able to change things in the world. But we aren’t told that we can be part of changing things now. … I can have an impact today.”