"The cafeteria staff and head of the food service program are very proud of the produce we have provided. It has offset the food purchase cost, which has allowed them to use the money in different areas."
- April Ponce, Yellville-Summit School District Service Member
2014-2015 Service Member
My name is April Knight Ponce and I am a native Arkansan. I was raised in the Ozark Mountains on the Buffalo River in North Arkansas where my love of nature is deeply rooted. I was exposed to a variety of animals and had the privilege to learn farming and gardening from my mother and grandfather. I am a former student of Yellville Summit but a graduate of Greenbrier High School. College took me to Conway and then I settled in Little Rock in 1994. I was a periodontal surgical assistant for ten years before becoming a full time mommy to my little girls Olivia and Piper. After the hustle and bustle of Little Rock for 20 years I was ready for a change. I longed for the serenity that my home town of Yellville Summit provided and decided my beautiful little girls who are 6 and 7 deserve the same!! We moved back to North Arkansas and settled into country life without a hitch. My husband Christopher and I have a small farm in Mull which is located only 3 miles from the mighty Buffalo. On our little slice of paradise we raise pigs, chickens, turkeys and a variety of dogs. I think it is a privilege to give back to a community that I love and the people who have helped shaped my 40 years. Yellville-Summit is a wonderful town and it’s so good to be home...
Yellville-Summit School District is a K-12 campus with several garden sites. The demonstration gardens, high tunnel, and terraced gardens provide spaces for outdoor learning experiences, physical activity, and nutritious food for our school community. The GardenCorps Service member will conduct garden work as requested, co-teach (with Elementary and Middle School teachers) garden-based lessons in the garden, and plan several community events to garner additional community support and opportunity for healthy and productive interactions. We are building a Garden-to-Cafeteria program as part of our district Wellness initiative. A strong educational background, good communication skills, and leadership qualities are a must. Come grow with us!
Yellville-Summit School District
Yellville-Summit School is located in Marion County in the north central region of the state. Approximately 36% of children in Marion County are living in poverty and currently 77% of elementary students at Y-S are eligible for free/reduced lunch program. These numbers indicate that many of the families in our school district experience some level of food insecurity. According to Marion County Health rankings for 2011, 63.5% of our residents are overweight or obese and only 48.7% report meeting physical activity recommendations (2007). According to BRFSS data for the past decade, less than 30% of Arkansans meet the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables.
There is a need to increase awareness of health benefits involved in growing, processing and consuming fresh produce. In a policy statement issued by the AAP in 2006, "lifestyle-related physical activity, as opposed to aerobics or calisthenics, is critical for sustained weight loss in children". Gardening is definitely a lifestyle-related physical activity and if these studies translate to similar results in other age groups, which they likely do, additional time outdoors in the garden will benefit participants of all ages and not only for the time spent in gardening, but the encouragement to be active at other times.
Many beneficial partners have been involved in the current program and anticipate continued involvement into the future. Marion County Cooperative extension, Yellville Farmer's Market, Y-S Coordinated School health and many area businesses have partnered with the garden to provide resources, support and volunteer hours. The Yellville-Summit School garden is comprised of a demonstration garden with 26 beds, high tunnel with approximately 800 square foot of growing space, and a hillside area to expand the garden with terraced beds (one bed is in production at this time). The garden expansion into the terraced area will be underway this spring.
2013-2014 Service Member
My name is Trisha Ramsey and I was born in Harrison, Ar. I have lived in Yellville, Ar my entire life. I was a thirteen year senior at Yellville-Summit School, graduating in 2007. After high school I was unsure what I wanted to do as far as a career, but I knew I wanted to work with children. From 2007-2012 I worked at a few daycares. In the fall of 2012 I was offered a job at Yellville-Summit Elementary to become the AmeriCorps Tutor for the preschool. I truly enjoyed it so much. I enjoyed helping the preschoolers and doing community projects that helped people in my home town. However that program came to a close after the 2012-2013 school year. Although I was very sad about that. A very exciting event took place on December 31st, 2012 I married my wonderful husband Garrett. He teaches Elementary P.E. at Yellville-Summit. Also another chapter of my life began, when I heard about the new position that became available at Yellville-Summit this 2013-2014 school year. I am very proud to be the 2013-2014 GardenCorps Service Member at Yellville-Summit Schools. It feels good to be able to work at Yellville-Summit again this year. Although I have no experience working in a garden, I would say I am truly enjoying it, and I am excited to be a part of such an amazing program. I cannot wait to see what this year has in store. My future plans are to become a preschool teacher. This will be a great experience for me, and I am willing to take any training or experience to help me become a great future teacher.