FoodCorps Service Members
FoodCorps Service Members
Our FoodCorps Service Members are the charismatic leaders that bring so much life in and outside the classroom. They dedicate themselves to providing the most engaging and memorable experiences for their students, and strive to influence more nutritious lifestyles that are connected to our earth deeply. Within their service, they focus on three areas of service including: Hands-On Learning, Influence Nourishing School Meals, and Building a Culture of Health. Read more about our FoodCorps Service Members below!
Bridgette Byrd is a 2nd Year FoodCorps Service Member serving at Avon Avenue School and Hawthorne Avenue School. Bridgette has embarked upon a journey in supporting local Newark schools, providing experiential project-based learning dedicated to healthy kids, food nutrition, and food justice. In her role, she supports academic and social and emotional needs by collaborating with classroom teachers to build on classroom learning, often highlighting Farm to School lessons and utilizing the Conservancy’s nearby Hawthorne Ave. Farm. In the school cafeteria, classrooms, and even on the farm itself, taste tests are integrated to expand food access, exposure, and distribution. Outside is Bridgette’s classroom of choice! Throughout the school year, Bridgette has made it a priority, as often as possible, to give students the opportunity to enjoy outdoor learning experiences in school gardens and on the urban farm cultivating various crops, harvesting produce, and tasting freshly grown fruits and vegetables. As one student joyfully said it perfectly, "Am I eating healthy?...YES! I'm gonna eat heathy every day!"
Natalie McGrath is a 1st Year FoodCorps Service Member serving at Mt. Vernon Elementary School and Thirteenth Avenue School. This past spring she graduated from Emory University with a degree in Anthropology and English & Creative Writing. Growing up in Brooklyn, Natalie never thought she would end up farming, but after seven seasons of working on organic farms, she is grateful to have learned the value and joy of growing food in community. Natalie believes that all children must be given the space, resources, and guidance to become crucial agents within our food system. Sharing her love of growing food, cooking, and exploring our complex relationships with the food system is a top priority for Natalie. With the belief that food can be our greatest connector, she is eager to learn from her students as well. Natalie is looking forward to creating a classroom environment in which everyone feels welcome and encouraged to share, question, and develop their own curiosities around food.
Miriam Entin-Bell is a 1st Year FoodCorps Service Member serving at Harriet Tubman School and Lincoln Elementary School. Raised in Brooklyn and a recent graduate from Oberlin College, Miriam arrives at Greater Newark Conservancy excited to lead hands-on, rigorous, and joyful food education in students’ classrooms, gardens, and cafeterias. Miriam is passionate about community engagement, social justice, and working outside! Miriam’s goal is to create opportunities for students and their communities to cultivate their own empowering and joyful relationships to nourishing and delicious food.
Pablo Verissimo is a 2nd Year FoodCorps Service Member serving at McKinley Elementary School. Pablo came to us fresh out of college from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, eager to begin his new journey in life. Although he started a tad later than everyone else, he immediately jumped into catch up mode as he prepared for his first lessons. He connected with his students like he has been doing this work for years, and that is evident in the cheers from students and staff that fill the classroom as he walks in. He ensures that what the students are learning in the garden correlate to what is being taught in their classes for a deep connection to their school curriculum.
Check Out This FoodCorps Spotlight on Bridgette Byrd
Check Out the Newman's Own Foundation Spotlight on Pablo Verissimo!
Check Out This FoodCorps FoodChat That Alumni Julia Sienkiewicz Held!
Check Out Our Growing for Change Presentation for the 2023 ANJEE Winter Conference!
Julia Sienkiewicz: '22-'23
Julia travelled to Greater Newark Conservancy from Washington, DC where she came to finish off her final year of FoodCorps service! Despite living back and forth between Washington and New York, she managed to still have the energy to give her lessons all she had to make them super engaging for all her students. Her creativity and focus on social emotional learning created a safe space in her classroom and allowed students to fully engage in her lessons. Most of the wonderful photos taken during her service term were all her, as Julia also was a professional photographer and was able to capture so many amazing shots during her service.
Patrick Evans: -'20-'22
Patrick came to the Conservancy after spending a year working within the compost industry. His time post-college led him to start his own garden at home, where he eventually found a LinkedIn job application for FoodCorps. Since then, he has embedded himself in the Newark Farm to School movement as once he finished his service, he was hired on as the Farm to School Coordinator for Greater Newark Conservancy. He now works diligently with many schools across Newark in assisting with their Farm to School programs.
Yaquanna Williams: '21-'22
Yaquanna jumped right into service with a huge smile and ready to make an impact. She had a deep passion for herbal medicine and her knowledge was reflected in her lessons as she connected her students to her spiritual beliefs! In college, her senior thesis in Africana Studies, Yaquanna examined how Black farming collectives across the African Diaspora nurture the land and local communities. She was inspired by Black farmers in her hometown here in Newark, New Jersey!
Deja Jones: '21-'22
Deja was an established Newark educator before she stepped foot at the Conservancy and her expertise in classroom management was a plus for her fellow service members. Deja is now a Co-Founder and Teacher-Leader at Honeypot Montessori, a nature-based Montessori school in Newark, NJ. We are so happy for Deja to bring the first Montessori school to Newark!
Shannon Murphy: '19-'21
Shannon served right in the middle of the pandemic, yet that did not stop her from serving her community here in Newark. Whether she was making videos for her students to watch virtually or running an after-school (socially-distanced) garden club, she managed to keep busy during a bleek time. After her service, she continued to service her community as she was hired on as the Assistant Farm Manager, where she helped managed the Hawthorne Avenue Farm (over 3 acres of growing).
Javonne Alonzo: '17-'19
Javonne made a huge impact on her students and school community and having to take a bus to all her schools did not slow her down one bit. She finished off her service years strong and moved on to be the Team Leader for the FoodCorps New Jersey State Team. She continued to move up as her strong leadership skills were as clear as day and she would eventually become the New Jersey Program Coordinator, where she works closely managing and supporting her team of FoodCorps Service Members.
Amaryllis Olivo Mockabee: '15-'17
Amaryllis is an experienced community advocate with deep roots with her work in Newark. She is currently the Green Energy Educator at Donald M. Payne Technical School in Newark, NJ. She recently received a Newark Grows School Gardens Mini-Grant from the Conservancy, where they had plans of ramping up the beehive production.
Jamie Bruno: '14-'15
Jamie served a one-year service term under the mission to combat diet related disease and increase access to and knowledge about healthy whole foods within the elementary public school system. She continued to work within food systems and agriculture where in 2017 she helped co-find the Urban Agriculture Cooperative which is a food system development nonprofit dedicated to providing increased access to locally grown produce with a focus on equity and entrepreneurship in agriculture.