Alecia, center, with Program Specialist, Jesus (right), and fellow Project LEAD, Dani (left)

The range of talents we have on our youth staff team consistently astounds us. Some of our youth are amazing athletes, mentors, artists, musicians, actors, and gardeners. Others, like Frogtown Project LEAD Alecia Mathews, have talents that lie in the kitchen. 

Since becoming a Project LEAD three years ago, Alecia has expanded upon her skills in the kitchen and there is no hiding the fact that she is a talented cook. 

“Before coming to Youth Farm, I already cooked at home, but here I have learned so many new recipes,” Alecia said. “I love spending time in the kitchen and we get to do a lot of that here.”

Although Alecia has been comfortable in the kitchen for quite some time, we are excited to see her learning new skills and becoming a leader during food prep when the St. Paul team hosts cooking classes and community events. 

Alecia’s involvement with Youth Farm has not only allowed her to spend more time in the kitchen, but it has also helped her spend more time outdoors and participating in new and interesting activities with her peers.

“I first got involved with Youth Farm because my brother’s best friend had been attending program, so my parents signed us up,” Alecia said. “For me, it is a great way to get outside and spend time in the kitchen. At home I play a lot of video games and coming to Youth Farm is something different.”

Although a large amount of our program time is spent in our gardens or in the kitchen, we also enjoy traveling and learning about how others are getting involved in agriculture and social change. Allowing our youth to meet new people and explore new places is a constant goal of ours. 

“One of my favorite Youth Farm memories was going to Wisconsin and visiting Buttermilk Falls Farm,” Alecia remembers. “We got to go strawberry picking and learn about the way they ran their farm.”

We recognize that when it comes to creating a youth-led food movement, we are not in it alone and we are excited to see that our youth recognize that as well. 

As Alecia enters her junior year of high school she is beginning to think about what the future holds for her. 

“Our cooking classes are one of my favorite things we do at Youth Farm,” she said. “Because I enjoy cooking so much, I have been thinking about going to culinary school after I graduate to continue working in the kitchen.”

While post-high school life rounds the corner for Alecia, we are excited to see where it takes her. In ten years we can only hope to get a table at her newly opened restaurant and experience how her cooking skills have evolved. However, if her path curves in a different direction, we have no doubt that she will be successful wherever she goes and we look forward to supporting her in whatever she chooses to pursue.