By Nick Hodgson, Phase II Fellow
As I type this blog, my final day of the AMI Fellowship is upon me.
It has been quite a journey over the better part of two years. We spent six months in beautiful Highland County with seven other strangers living, learning, and growing alongside each other. We have now spent the past year putting these skills into practice in our communities.
Getting to know the Fellows in my cohort has been the greatest pleasure during my time in the Fellowship.
Ariel hails from N.Y.C. and truly represents the hustle and bustle of a big city. He is better known as the energizer bunny because he moves and talks a mile a minute and is never low on energy. Ariel is one of the friendliest humans that I know. His passion for creating change in his community is inspiring and infectious and he is already back in New York positively affecting his community. Ariel was a cabin-mate, Back Creek Boy, and continues to be a good friend of mine.
Grace is constantly curious about life and can spend hours researching just about anything - the history of fava beans, life cycles of butterflies, and echo-location capabilities of bats, just to name a few. She will often give you a comprehensive report in a matter of minutes. Her ability to work so well alongside Pat and I for a full year is a testament to her hard work-ethic - as well as her fun and light-hearted nature. Grace is an incredible farmer and I’ve had the pleasure of watching her gain so much confidence and leadership capabilities during our time at Augusta Health. She’s also a new convert to pop country – undoubtedly because Pat and I incessantly played and sang along to Morgan Wallen’s “Whiskey Glasses.” This may be one of my proudest achievements of Phase II. Grace is planning to move closer to home to a more urban setting working on food access and connecting food insecure areas with local fresh produce.
Julia is the creative and observant one in the cohort whose passion for nature and healing the land are undeniable. During our free time on the mountain, she was often foraging plants for medicinal teas, knitting or mending the Fellows’ worn clothes, or taking beautifully illustrated notes in her journal - which we are all still waiting for a copy of, I might add! She made plenty of delicious meals during our time on the mountain and I always looked forward to whatever she was cooking. She spent her Phase II guiding and mentoring the next round of Fellows and I know the group will have such a large impact in their communities next year. She will most likely be working on a farm, healing the land, next year and beyond. Julia plans to have her own farm someday and if I know Julia, it will be a farm that practices regenerative agriculture and incorporates perennial tree crops with livestock.
Audrey is the caring, nurturing one in the cohort who could often be found taking care of sick & injured chickens and humans. This quality is what drives her to tirelessly help others – both in her work and in life. She is happiest with a baby in her arms and constantly updating us on her adorable nephew, Holden. She often told it like it was and was never afraid to be herself. In Phase II, she worked at Project Grows helping assist people with food access through a Farmers Market nutrition program, maintaining a school garden, and teaching children about healthy eating and growing. Moving forward, Audrey looks to do social work with an emphasis on health, such as helping others find assistance and access available programs.
Freddy is a man of many eclectic skills and talents ranging from unicycle riding, rock-climbing, playing and just about anything with strings. Over the course of the Fellowship, he’s also become a dough slinging ninja. He has a passion for teaching others and always tries his best to include everyone. He is always down to hang and get the group together for movie night, board games, dancing at the clock, or shooting pool at Bricks. He spent his Phase II at Project Grows working with children teaching them about gardening, nutrition, and cooking. Freddy will continue to make an impact in his communities through his playful nature and passion for helping people.
Not too long ago they were strangers, but now I’ve spent the better part of the past two years living, working, and learning alongside these Fellows. They have taught me so much over the course of the Fellowship and I feel extremely grateful to call them my friends. I will miss them dearly and can’t wait to hear what they are up to in “Phase III.”