A Birder’s-eye view of HIP


At the end of August, Kelly’s time with HIP will come to an end and she will move on to bigger & better things in life. But she will leave a lasting impression on all of us here and everyone she has worked with. In this piece, she reflects on her time with HIP and what it has meant for her.

First and foremost, I am a birder, a lover of trees and fauna, and an experiencer of nature. I have experience in the environmental sector teaching environmental ed. in elementary classrooms, measuring and inventory-ing shrubs and trees noting their health and wildfire potential, and backpacking along the Olympic National Park to study the landscape change of our beautiful PNW. I have a background in environment, but nutrition? Nope! So how did I get into the world of HIP and nutrition?

I became a summer VISTA with HIP and fell in love with the mission to bring food security for all, regardless of gender, race, ability, and age—that’s what led me to pursue my 10-month service year at HIP. I was nervous for not having a nutrition background, but the staff and volunteers helped me fit right in. Nowhere else would I be given the opportunity to do 10 billion things at once that helps build my professional skills.

So… what did I do? Here’s just a taste. I helped: plan, coordinate, and run three 6-week cooking courses; manage volunteer events that had 20+ volunteers; work with many work groups from all around the Puget Sound; help create a curriculum and teach food justice workshops; draft a nutrition curriculum and teach one-time nutrition classes to underserved populations; hold cooking demos at Farmer’s Markets; and hold nutrition events at schools where the entire school comes just for the event that I helped create and run! (That last one is still amazing to me when you take a moment to think about it.)

I’ve gained so much from working at HIP. It’s crazy to think I’ve grown so much just from these past 10 months. I couldn’t have had a better partner in crime with me than Heather. She is the most passionate food security and nutrition advocate and creative go-getter I have ever met in my 23 years of living! She has truly inspired me to find my passion and give it my all.

To Srijan, thank you for being my supervisor throughout my term. Your calm demeanor and eagerness to help me grow and succeed professionally is more than I can ask for. To Darcy’s infectious laughter, Bryn’s delicious baked goods, Alex’s admirable lack of hesitation towards eating questionable food, Ty’s enthusiasm for culinary cooking and coffee break chats, Jerry and Linda’s warm demeanor and eagerness to help, Jacques and Earl’s delicious and irresistible bread making abilities, and all you beautiful HIPsters, thank you and I salute you goodbye!

To wrap it all up, in keeping with tradition by past AmeriCorps, here are 6 takeaways from HIP:

  1. HIP is like your mom’s house—you just eat and eat, and when you think you can’t eat anymore, the food keeps appearing until you eat. Then if you don’t eat it, you feel guilty for wasting food, so you eat more until your tummy bursts!
  2. Basic math is a very useful thing you learn in school.
  3. “Everyone loves nutrition and cooking events” means “people come for the free food.”
  4. Not everyone knows how to put away a banana box.
  5. “The ultimate answer to life, the universe and everything is 42.” Srijan will laugh at this every time.
  6. While I may go back to my natural roots (get it? Because the environment is my specialty and where I started. It’s punny), nutrition will always hold a place in my heart. Who knows, you may see me working more towards food security elsewhere.

With my final cheep joke, it’s my tern to say good bye… but know owl be back!

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