We are excited to announce the Public Service Scholarship winners for 2016. We love offering a scholarship to those that have sacrificed and work hard to help others. From the non-profits, Police, Fire, Paramedics and rescue, to military members, this scholarship is for those who have served their fellow citizens. A big thank you goes out to each and every one of the applicants for helping to make the world and our country a better place to live in. The two honorable mentions will receive $100.
1st Public Service Scholarship Honorable Mention: Rachel Jonassen Bittman
Rachel has a long resume of public service. Last year she was with AmeriCorps VISTA as well as a wellness coordinator and this year she has been performing SNAP outreach and capacity building for providers. As far her hobbies and personality go, she is a self-declared nerd; who loves sci-fi, superheroes, and fantasy. She loves to read and write, and it is a very sad disappointment to her that she will never find anything besides clothes she had forgotten she owned in the back of her wardrobe, that she will never get a letter to Hogwarts, or that there will be no quest to destroy a ring and save the world in her future. She is attending University of Michigan for their Public Health Program.
Here is an excerpt from her essay:
"Every table was filled with wide-eyed teenagers. This was a reward for them, nearly 30 seventh and eighth graders, for completing their schoolwork on time: a cooking demonstration with the added bonus of getting to eat at the end of the class. I stood at the front of the classroom, asking myself how I might accomplish my goals of teaching these children a healthier snack option and helping them to understand how the food decisions they make can affect their overall wellness.
It was a simple lesson: guacamole. Everyone loves guacamole, right? Unfortunately, not everyone has the same access to resources, or the ability to share the same experiences. Some children get to grow up tasting new foods, trying new things, and learning about healthy and nutritious options. Others are not afforded the same luxury. Within this group of children in this class in rural Missouri, many had never tried guacamole, and were hesitant to participate. They didn’t believe that they would enjoy the new food.
Thus the question then became: how can I get these children to try a food they are set on hating? I reasoned that if I gave them control over their own serving, they would be able to leave out some ingredients if they wished, and that they would feel a certain pride in obtaining that control. All of the sudden, I wasn’t just an adult shoving a food option at them and telling them to eat it; I was a team leader, offering them something new and appealing. I watched as they mashed up the avocado themselves, choosing which extras they wanted, and in return, they were more willing to try a food they had never eaten before. This experience prompted me to consider whether their reticence to try new foods is a lack of will, or a lack of knowledge. In many cases, people do want to learn how to make healthier choices. They just haven’t had the opportunity. If children and young adults are offered the chance to form their own opinions, they are more likely to gain the ability and desire to make informed decisions on their own. Healthy habits and lifestyles start early, and practices are learned from family, friends, teachers, and others in a child’s sphere of influence. Frequent exposure to choices and opportunities can often assist children and young adults in broadening their perspectives."
We wish Rachel all the best and can't wait to see the great work she does in the future to help communities in America.