The Get Rooted Youth Leadership Program began in 2015, mobilizing Richmond youth ages 16-25 who are passionate about food security, social justice, and environmental sustainability issues, and supporting them in becoming Food Security Leaders and Educators in our community.
Through an intensive summer program complete with workshops, volunteerism, and action projects, Get Rooted is designed to provide youth with a strong foundation of understanding on food security issues, hands-on experience contributing to the local food system, and innovative, action-based problem-solving in addressing barriers to the people’s food access. This program aims to be a stepping stone for youth to jump further into long-term volunteer or career engagements in food security initiatives and sustainability-related interventions. Youth gain a holistic array of life and employment skills, focusing in areas of leadership, communication, team collaboration, interpersonal relations, project management, and confidence contributing to community-engaged solutions.
Youth Leaders are given access to expert-led, multidisciplinary workshops on various aspects of food security and social change. Sessions are led by university professors, food justice advocates, environmental specialists, seed-saving activists, local farmers, and seasoned professionals in the food security and community health sectors.
Aside from lectures, workshops also include discussions, group activities, brainstorming of tangible personal actions, and other interactive components pertaining to each topic. Youth are able to practice public speaking and networking with guest facilitators for further mentorship.
Workshop topics in the past have included:
Both issues and interventions for food insecurity are community-based, therefore we offer Youth Leaders many volunteer opportunities with various organizations in the Richmond community. In 2016 and 2017, Get Rooted youth donated 408+ volunteer hours to six agencies fighting food insecurity in Richmond, including the Richmond Food Bank, Gilmore Community Meals, Terra Nova Nature School, Sharing Farm, RFSS’ own Stir It Up Youth Community Kitchen and fruit recovery programs, and more.
Youth Leaders are supported to take tangible action to combat food insecurity. Collaborating in small groups, Youth Leaders identify specific areas needing intervention, create an action plan, and take initiative to improve food security status. Youth are given resources and guidance to tackle tasks at hand; it’s often a steep learning curve, but students achieve tremendous growth in employable skills and confidence contributing to community-based solutions.
In 2016, Get Rooted Youth Leaders authored a photo-blog series “Stories in Your Stew“, designed and piloted the Richmond Bike to Farm Tour, saved seeds, raise public awareness for food security through the Get Rooted Symposium.
In 2017, Youth Leaders conducted needs assessment through surveying 150+ individuals for the Richmond Bike to Farm Tour Feasibility Study, designed 10 Richmond Eats Farm to Fork Recipe Greeting Cards in honour of Canada 150, and crafted the Seed Matching Game Model – an interactive, educational resource to teach seed literacy to the community.
What Youth Leaders Said
“Being a part of the Get Rooted team has been a wonderful and educational experience. I enjoyed meeting like-minded youth and taking part in activities, workshops, and volunteer opportunities. Thank you so much for allowing us youth the chance to learn about our community and local food systems!” – Jamie, Get Rooted 2017
“Get Rooted inspires me to be more active in the social component of food. I never really supported local farmers or learned about food security [before]. Through Get Rooted, I have become interested, inspired, and knowledgeable in issues and concepts on food security. This was such an inspiring experience! I can’t think of a better way to spend my summer than being a part of the Get Rooted program” – Christian, 20, Get Rooted 2017
*Names have been changed for anonymity.