As an environmental science major, Joseph actively works to improve communities through the growth and distribution of food. In a recent service-learning course, Joseph helped to establish a campus food pantry for students at Tulsa Community College. Wanting to continue his involvement with the project even after the semester ended, Joseph currently spends several hours at the pantry each week, ensuring that access to adequate food isn't a barrier to student success.
Joseph has also taken on the volunteer role of garden coordinator at the Tipton Community Garden where he instructs local resident on how to grow their own produce. Being sensitive to issues of social justice, he is currently working on a plan that will provide pay-as-you-can produce at a local farmer's market. Joseph understands that access to a nutritious diet can have a large impact on an individual's ability to be successful, and he has been extremely active in unifying both campus and local communities by working to reduce food insecurity.
As an aspiring civic and social leader, I seek to address issues that challenge my own community. One issue felt strongly by those around me is food insecurity. I've found that this issue can be reduced by implementing more sustainable systems for food growth and distribution. As the coordinator for the Tipton Community Garden, my goal has always focused on building relationships within the community and sharing fresh vegetables with the neighboring residents. As a way to increase morale and participation, I establish rapport with residents by inviting them to events at the garden. When hosting volunteer and service-based opportunities, I invite experienced gardeners to share their knowledge about aspects pertaining to gardening. I have additionally helped implement and run a campus-based food pantry at Tulsa Community College to ensure that food access is not a barrier to student success. My vision for the future involves helping to establish a pay-as-you-can produce booth at local markets. Access to healthy foods should not prevent anyone from succeeding in life, especially when there is more than enough food to go around. I'm excited to see how the Newman Civic Fellowship will help impact my civic engagement in the Tulsa community to an even greater extent.