This Spring, Carrie Koplinka-Loehr, an environmental journalist, approached the YFP staff with the idea to produce a more-detailed article for the Youth Farm Project. You can read the article in Green Teacher, a publication that promotes sustainability education. Here are some of my favorite excerpts:
- "Crew leaders gain leadership skills by being responsible for the physical and emotional safety of their crew. As a part of this, they model positive communication. Rayna Joyce and Noa Wesley, both of whom have been involved in YFP since the beginning, say YFP encourages “Straight Talk,” a process developed by The Food Project (a non-profit in Boston that hires teens with the goal of creating personal and social change through sustainable agriculture). Straight Talk is communicating honestly about how you are feeling, making eye contact, listening, and learning how to receive feedback. Crew members frame comments into positives (“When we were trellising tomatoes and I needed extra twine, and you jumped and got it”) and deltas, or attributes that could be changed (“While we were weeding carrots this afternoon, you seemed to lack energy when we really needed you. It would be awesome for our crew if you could...”). Wesley, now a student at Cornell University, says, “We’re never really taught interpersonal communication anywhere in our system. That piece is a large part of what we do...and adds another level of depth.”"
- “My best day of being a teacher,” says Flerlage, “using activities, writings, whatever else I could think of, doesn’t hold a candle to a bunch of folks working with common purpose in a field. You’re totally together, and differences dissipate.”
-"But in the same breath, Flerlage waxes philosophical: “The tendency to underestimate young people is profound. A high percentage of the kids sent to us would have a hard time elsewhere. The Farm is the antithesis of one-size-fits-all. Part of it is the staff and a culture that values things broadly and provides experiences that allow people to shine.”"