AmeriCorps VISTA Ryan Jones talks about the great work he is doing with the Sunnyside Unified School District to develop school gardens that will have a positive impact on the students in the district.
When I first applied to serve as a VISTA member with AmeriCorps, I envisioned a unique opportunity to serve my community’s needs while pursuing my own personal and professional development. I dreamed of the opportunity to learn new skills and work alongside knowledgeable, skilled, and well-intentioned counterparts towards realizing common goals with the purpose of improving the lives of ourselves and those whom we serve.
Since I have started volunteering with the Sunnyside Unified School District (SUSD), I have been watching as my initial vision has slowly begun to materialize. As the School Garden Resource Coordinator Volunteer, I have learned about the many organizations and resources in Tucson which are dedicated towards facilitating the development of school gardens across the city. In SUSD in particular, the school gardens are intended to serve as an educational tool, an atmosphere for the students, a source of sustenance, and an early exposure to gardening skills and knowledge which will then be carried forward by the student into their future lives, and the lives of their families and fellow community members.
By working alongside the dedicated staff and community partners within SUSD and the greater Tucson area, I hope to elevate the status of school gardens across the district and connect schools with the proper organizations and resources in order to see them thrive. I hope to increase access to healthy, local produce among Sunnyside students, and nurture lifelong interest in the practice and culture of gardening and healthy living. It is in this spirit that I continue my mission as an AmeriCorps VISTA member, serving with the Sunnyside Unified School District.