ALUM OF THE MONTH: ANDREW FOY, AMERICORPS VISTA YOUTH & FOOD COORDINATOR, MALAMA KAUA’I, ISLAND OF KAUA’i, HAWAIINovember 1, 2017
Andrew Foy graduated in Horticulture – Landscape Design, Installation, & Maintenance Option Entrepreneurial Studies Minor in May 2015. Andrew is from Waverly, Iowa.
Since last September, Andrew has been working as an AmeriCorps VISTA Youth and Food Programs Coordinator at Malama Kaua’i a 501(c)3 non-profit that’s working towards a number of sustainability initiatives on the island Kaua’i (the western most of the Hawaiian islands). His primary responsibility as Youth & Food Programs Coordinator is building the capacity of youth and school garden programs on the westside of Kaua’i. Writing grants, launching social media and crowdfunding campaigns, recruiting and managing guest speakers and volunteers, coordinating school break ag internships, and collaborating with teachers to design, source materials for and install school gardens are all activities he might do on a day-to-day basis. With 90% of Hawaii’s food approximately 6 million pound per day being imported from the mainland (contiguous U.S.) or Asia, it’s vital that Hawaii’s youth be reconnected with how to grow and produce their own food and heed the call to become Hawaii’s next generation of farmers!
We asked Andrew what he likes most about this position. Because the schools I work with are on the opposite side of the island as the Malama Kaua’i headquarters, I haven’t really had an onsite boss telling me what to do each day, and therefore have had to work independently, think entrepreneurially, and be a self-starter. Being able to “be my own boss” has been a very rewarding experience and has definitely forced me to learn new administrative and people skills that I otherwise would’ve relied on a co-worker or supervisor for. Another great part of my VISTA position is the opportunity it’s given me to utilize the design and installation skills I developed in Lisa Orgler and Ann Marie VanderZanden’s studio classes in a very real-world, practical sense. Over the course of my service term, I have been able to help see four school garden projects through to completion – starting with brainstorming and designing the school garden with teachers, staff and other stakeholders, and going all the way to funding and purchasing materials and overseeing volunteers to help install and bring the garden design to life!
Following is advice Andrew offers to current students: Don’t feel like you have to commit to a full-time job or have the rest of your life figured out immediately after you graduate college. The best career decision I made thus far was turning down an offer with a well-established landscaping company right after school and deciding instead to pursue a volunteer opportunity in Guatemala. That experience, and two year’s worth of AmeriCorps terms in different parts of the country, have allowed me to meet some incredible people, work with some awesome organizations, and develop a broader, more realistic perspective of how the world works, the social and environmental problems it faces, and my responsibility to bring about positive change and be a part of the solution.