How Marion Polk Food Share’s Youth Farm Nurtures Future Leaders

By Published On: November 27th, 2023

Marion Polk Food Share’s Youth Farm serves as a dynamic educational opportunity for local youth. Through this unique program, participating youth learn how to grow, harvest and distribute fresh fruits and vegetables to local individuals and families in need, while developing valuable leadership skills.

At the end of the Youth Farm’s 11th summer season, two Youth Farmers, Cooper and Kitty, wanted to share how your support is helping them develop skills that will shape their future.

Cooper and Kitty on our Youth Farm

For Cooper and Kitty, along with many other Youth Farmers, this is their first job experience—one that has taught them teamwork, time management, leadership skills and more.

“I’m really honored to be in this position to be able to provide for the community that I love. Working a traditional summer job wouldn’t be as fulfilling as working here. The Youth Farm is helping people that need it and it’s teaching me life skills that a normal 9-5 retail job is never going to teach me,” says Cooper, Youth Farm Crew Leader.

Youth Farm Story of Cooper and Kitty

Cooper’s aspiration is to become a marine biologist.

His hard work as a Crew Leader at the Youth Farm helped open a new door for him that will serve him well in the future.  After earning a tremendous letter of recommendation from Marion Polk Food Share’s Farm and Garden Manager, Cooper was selected for a unique opportunity to join a science program in Alaska for nine weeks where he will learn more about marine biology.

Kitty is unsure of which career she would like to pursue in the future, but she is eager to share her Youth Farm experience in future college and job opportunities. She also feels the experience set her up well for the school year ahead.

“I will take what I learned at the Youth Farm into the school year, Kitty shared. “Being in the program helped me feel like I’m in the school routine because I’m getting up early. Instead of being sluggish at school and dreading going back, I have a schedule that I can rely on that will help me be successful.”

Marion Polk Food Share would like to thank Bonaventure Senior Living, Braemar Charitable Trust, Community Development Block Grant funding from the City of Salem, Esther Schuette Gerstacker and Carl Gerstacker Fund of the Midland Area Community Foundation, First Tech Federal Credit Union – Beaverton, Juan Young Trust, Oregon Department of Education, The Herbert A. Templeton Foundation and community members like you.

Your support is the cornerstone of the Food Share’s work, and we are grateful for your dedication. Together, we are sowing the seeds of a brighter future for all.