LOCAL FOOD AMBASSADOR ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT
Josie Walker is a native of Eastern North Carolina and has a passion for agriculture, self-sufficiency, and connecting people. Josie graduated from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics and is an alumna of UNC-Charlotte, where she earned a degree in Mathematics and minored in Spanish, and of North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University (A&T), where she graduated with a degree in Agricultural and Environmental Systems, with a Concentration in Urban and Community Horticulture. During her time at A&T, Josie was a Local Food Ambassador as well as a Supply Chain Apprentice through the Center for Environmental Farming System’s (CEFS) NC Growing Together initiative. After graduation, Josie was named a 2016 Local Food Hero by CEFS’ Farm to Fork Initiative. She then worked for CEFS as the UFoods Farmer Research and Outreach Coordinator – alongside researchers at A&T, North Carolina State University, and the NC 10% Campaign – and as the Sustainable Agriculture Internship Program Assistant. Today, Josie works for Agrarian Trust on the FaithLands pilot project in Eastern North Carolina.
When and where were you a Local Food Ambassador? 2015-2016 at N.C. A&T State University
Tell us about the work you focused on during your internship. My main goal was to raise awareness around sustainability and local food, and to encourage local food education on campus. To create more conversation with students and professors around these issues, I organized a monthly brown bag lunch meeting through the Sustainable Ag Club at A&T. I also organized an event called foodTALKS, which was an evening of presentations, interactive talks, cooking and eating together with several partners on campus and in the local community.
What are some things you learned as an Ambassador? During my time as an Ambassador, I learned how to organize people and how to get things done. I also learned the power of networking. It’s an important skill to understand how to create partnerships, and how to make those partnerships worthwhile for everyone involved.
What were some of the biggest challenges? The biggest challenge was probably having to organize events from scratch. Not many people knew about the Local Food Ambassador program, so I had to do a lot of educating and going to meetings with other groups on campus to create connection and collaboration.
What was a success you are most proud of during your time as an Ambassador? I’m most proud of the foodTALKS event that I organized. We thought maybe 25 people would come, and we ended up having over 50, so that was a big success. We invited a local chef to come and work alongside students in the kitchen to create locally sourced meals to share with the group.
How has this position helped you in finding your career path or focusing on your next job? My role as a Local Food Ambassador pretty much led me to my next job, which was working as the Farmer Research and Outreach Coordinator with UFoods, a two-year project designed to develop new market opportunities for farmers by building collaborative supply chain links from farms to university campuses in North Carolina. Today I work for the Agrarian Trust, as the Faithlands Coordinator for Eastern North Carolina. With FaithLands, my work is focused on helping communities of faith become more integrated into the food justice and local food conversations by making their land available to traditionally underrepresented farmers.
What advice do you have for future Local Food Ambassadors? Try to do something big! It’s your job to support sustainability and local food on campus, so don’t be afraid to talk to people and just go for it.
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