Channing James, definitely a Youth Worker and so much more!

I met Channing in 2012 when she was our Harvest Coordinator in Hawthorne. She introduced herself as “not really a youth worker,” but believe me, she is. Channing has an incredible way of listening to young people, making them feel heard and that they know they matter. She also is real and genuine with them, which gains Youth Farmers’ trust and respect immediately. In the past three summers that she has worked in Hawthorne, Channing has proven to be an impactful youth worker.

This summer she was unable to commit to a staff position, see she is in Medical School and is quite busy as you can imagine. Despite this, she found a way to stay involved with Youth Farm by tying her service learning project to our food distribution plan for the North Oaks residents at St. Olaf. She and a co-classmate, Ted Hagmann, worked with our LEAD to set up a system of distributing food from our farms to the residents each week. As they don’t have much more than a microwave to cook with, we had to be quite strategic to make sure these veggies were able to be eaten raw or that they required minimal preparation. Channing and Ted helped faciliate meetings with the residents and the LEAD to better get an idea of the vaiety of produce that would be useful and the quantities that would be substantial. Each week in the summer, Channing would come to help the Youth Farmers gather, sort and wash the produce for distribution and then they would haul the produce to the residence to pass out. Last Wednesday was our last distribution to the residents and tonight Channing, Ted and our LEAD gathered with our crew of “regulars” to discuss how the whole thing went. The residents just gushed on and on about how much they appreciated the fresh fruits and veggies, but mostly they talked about our kids; how insightful they were, how kind and that they listened. One resident remarked at how he feels young, just by getting to watch them be young and play up on the hill in the garden. Our LEAD saw how much their produce and their blood, sweat and tears impacted the community around them. Their excitement for next year’s planning and winter community meals was catching and it was fun to think of new possibilities.

Thank you so much Channing for being a part of Hawthorne Youth Farm, your connections with young people help them discover incredible new experiences and realizations about the community and world around them!

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