Leaders of Change
Whether it’s a school campus, workplace or hometown, there are people who put in the time and energy to improve the sustainability of their community. Bon Appétit recognizes these local Leaders of Change for their passion and dedication by featuring one of their motivational stories each month. We hope they inspire you to get involved and make a positive change, big or small, in your own community.
To share the story of somebody you know who is making a difference in your community, fill out the form below.
Planting Seeds of Education
When is the last time you thought about where your grocer’s produce comes from? How about the energy it takes to get it there or even the carbon emissions from using all that energy? One college senior, Lina Yamashita, had all this on her mind when she decided it was time to make a change in her community. What better place to start than the local schools?
Lina is a biology and environmental studies major at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio. She has used her knowledge of current environmental issues to develop a multi-step plan to educate and involve youth by constructing a garden at the Oberlin High School. Lina hopes that this garden will serve as a link between people and the environment.
Lina began her involvement in the school system by teaching elementary school students about the relationship between the food they consume, the environment, and the changing climate. She taught more than 100 third, fourth and fifth graders and led a small student group called the Youth Energy Project. The project culminated in an event bringing the high school and elementary students together to construct solar cookers out of pizza boxes.
In February 2007, Lina discovered the Red, White and Green Youth Action campaign. The three-year drive is “intended to encourage widespread youth engagement in the issue of climate change leading up to the 2008 national presidential election.” Lina knew exactly what she wanted to do. She constructed a plan that included building a school garden to educate students about the relationship between food, health, and the environment. In March 2007 two raised-bed gardens were constructed with the help of the high school students and Jones Farm, an experimental sustainable farm in Oberlin.
By May, Lina had found out she received the grant and her plans can soon be made into action.
Oberlin High School students maintain the garden and when the fruits and vegetables are ripe the students will harvest them and share them with their families and friends. This fall, the students taking culinary classes will get to use the produce supplied by the garden and learn the importance of local foods. The students will learn healthy cooking techniques and about reducing the energy used to transport food.
Lina intends for the garden to be used by younger kids as well. Fourth graders will be taught about the wide variety of fruits and vegetables, the steps involved in getting food to the table, the energy required, and how fossil fuels are a non-renewable resource. To complete the lessons, she has scheduled the high school and elementary students to harvest the garden and prepare a picnic for the Oberlin City Council members.
Next, Lina plans to take action on an even larger scale. This fall she and a few of her Oberlin classmates will attend a city council meeting to raise issues such as climate change caused by the transport of food. Lina also plans to assist the high school students in writing letters to elected officials about how food contributes to global warming and encourage policies that would reduce energy used to transport food and the establishment of community gardens.
Lina also wants to change the way people view their environment. The garden will allow people to connect, appreciate food, and learn about eco-friendly aspects of gardening. In the future, Lina hopes her garden will become the foundation of strong relationships and opportunities for environmental involvement on issues that affect the entire community.