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STEP-UP Omaha Learns About Urban Agriculture

STEP-UP Omaha is a local program of the Empowerment Network for youth between the ages of 14 and 21. The program exposes them to community service, work experience, internships and job training opportunities. For two weeks in July, STEP-UP Omaha participants joined No More Empty Pots for an educational, hands-on adventure! They learned about the world of sustainable urban agriculture through gardening, culinary skills, mindfulness, entrepreneurship and career exploration.

Food For Thought

Remember when you were a young adult fending for something to eat? If you’re like most, you ate something convenient and easy to microwave rather than cook a meal on the stove. Our participants were no different. Many of the teens admitted they couldn’t cook or never have. Because of this, they were surprised when tasked with breaking down a whole chicken. Food Hub Manager, Sarah Bleich, and Kitchen Manager, Jessica Schultes brought the group into the training kitchen at the Food Hub. They learned basic knife skills which helped them accomplish their task. The end result was delicious chicken tacos! They experienced teamwork and improved communication through the process. The opportunity to try something new gave them a different perspective on food. Participants could now envision how to feed a whole family something tasty and on a budget. Take a look at Education Week’s video coverage here:

The adventure continued. Participants got their hands dirty in the garden. They played games, created art, concocted a fizzy drink and built a bird feeder. NMEP Program Director Gwen Inglis-Steinfeld took the group through teamwork exercises. Participants identified plants, animals, and insects inhabiting the garden while learning how they can help maintain a healthy ecosystem.

Personal & Professional Development

The STEP-UP Omaha participants partnered with local leaders to learn valuable life skills that will help propel them forward both personally and professionally.

Participants were exposed to the practice of using mindfulness and meditation. Johnathan Woodside of the Mindfulness Outreach Initiative gave a short presentation. They learned they could improve focus, emotional regulation, memory, and perspective.

To prepare for college and the working world, participants were provided resources and tips for financial planning with Amanda Schroeder, Wells Fargo at Work Program Consultant. They also went through instruction on how to use social media for networking, scholarship opportunities, resume writing and interviewing skills. Several speakers talked about careers in food sustainability and different career pathways in culinary, hospitality and horticulture fields.

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