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November 9, 2023

Youth Program spotlight: Lia

Youth Program spotlight: Lia

Lia, 17, was a Youth Program participant from 2021-2022. She first joined GRuB's GroundED program in September 2021. She then leveled up as a Farm Assistant in March of 2022, and stayed through the growing season. Lia brings tremendous kindness and thoughtfulness, and a love of learning about all micro and macro organisms on the farm. We are privileged to know her. Below is her own account of her growth in GRuB's Youth Program!

“Before joining GRuB in fall 2021, I was often awake during the night, and asleep during the day. I wasn’t good at communication, and not good at public speaking. In school I would cry in front of the class, or would laugh nervously during presentations and couldn’t address the class, even in group presentations. I did know that I had a lot of things to share, and a lot of ideas that I didn’t vocalize at the time. I was always very anxious, and overthinking everything. Also, I didn’t have great relationships because of my lack of communication skills.

My whole family knew about GRuB; we live nearby, so we’ve seen it many times. My stepmom was the one who saw a social media post from GRuB about the GroundED program, and told me about it because I had dropped out and needed my GED. I enrolled at Gravity, and started in GroundED both in September 2021.

I was very anxious about joining GroundED, anxious about the commitment, and being close to people. During quarantine in the pandemic, I stopped talking to people, and was nervous to get to know people. In my past experiences I couldn’t stand up for myself and was taken advantage of. I was nervous I would fall back into that again because I didn’t have much confidence and didn’t have many tools to talk healthily at the time. In the description about GroundED, the things that intrigued me were the Real Talk (a communication practice) and promotion about growing yourself as a person. I had been wanting to work on speaking and be supported with that. 

I remember that I started to become more comfortable being here as time went on. I also became more comfortable having a real job for the first time (I had only done yard work for my neighbor before as job experience). I remember always looking up to the Farm Assistants, thinking, 'I want to be just like them.' Their ability to speak in front of the group, and teach us, and how comfortable they were with each other and the group, and how knowledgeable they were, made me want to be like them. I had a lot of tension, and was overthinking everything, so this gave me something to aspire to be. It was holding me back to overthink everything I do and think it is wrong. The confidence to lead and speak up was something I wanted to achieve. I also passed all of my GED tests and earned my full diploma and was able to enroll and start attending South Puget Sound Community College in early January.

I felt motivated by the affirmation culture that was here, it felt good, and inspired me to work hard. Being appreciated made me feel like my efforts were noticed and like I was helping. I also took the Visions Guidelines, which GRuB uses to orient our ways of thinking and showing up, into my personal life and shared their lessons with some family members. I like to practice things such as both/and thinking in discussions or not blaming, shaming self or others.

Toward the end of the fall season, I learned about the opportunity to participate in the beekeeping certification course from GaBriel, and I took the opportunity to sign up because I’ve always loved bees, always felt a connection to bees, and thought that they were misunderstood. I see them as perfectionists, which I could relate to. It was cool to see how interested people were who were in the class with me. When people asked questions it helped me learn more. Though the classes often went overtime, I stayed because I didn’t want to miss anything. 

In January, GaBriel emailed me to let me know about the Farm Assistant application for the upcoming season. I thought I would continue in the GroundED program, and didn’t think I was ready to be in that position yet. I was doing online classes at SPSCC still, and not enjoying it much online. There was little interaction in online classes and it took a while to get a response to a question. When I thought about my goal of being a Farm Assistant, I talked myself into trying to apply for a position, and thought, “Why not try, even if I don’t feel ready?” It took a long time for me to decide whether or not to apply, and I was also unsure if I should accept if I was offered a spot. I applied and did it because I do a lot of things before deciding or else I think too much and end up regretting letting it go by. I applied, was asked for an interview and just felt it out and did the interview. I took my resume that I created in the fall GroundED program and updated it for my application. I wrote my first ever cover letter, and applied. I’m so glad I did. I got the job! Later I felt really grateful that I didn’t let this opportunity pass because I’ve had such a good experience. 

Then I did a lot of anticipating, wondering what’s going to happen. Then March came, and I started. The first day, everyone was strangers to each other. I remember gathering under the packing shed, while it was raining, feeling the awkwardness, and noticing that everyone seemed really nervous. Billie, the Farm Coordinator, seemed confident and comfortable, but the rest of us were unsure. I did get closer to everyone as the season rolled out though. I kept getting more comfortable on the land, working, and being with other people. I did feel a little uncomfortable still though; I didn’t put myself out there as much in activities. Games felt uncomfortable because I didn’t let my guard down.

Then, after a brief break at the end of spring, I decided I wanted to return and start living how I want to. The summer had my most drastic growth. I started connecting with everyone more. I felt more confident in my decisions. I didn’t have to ask others what to do as much. I was way more outgoing, and I started and engaged in more conversations, led more activities, and I started enjoying the games we play the most. I started letting myself be myself. I felt comfortable and confident. I also became significantly more confident in public speaking. 

When I think about pollination, I think of growth. With bees, they don’t do things on their own, and their growth is shared growth. I think it’s the same with our Farm Assistants this year. When we were off on our own, or closing off to people, we weren’t growing very much. But when I saw others’ growth, it was infectious. It was like a snowball effect, with us all providing momentum for each other. In this way, we are helping each other out, producing yummy food and flowers just like the bees.”

Support other youth to have an experience like Lia's by donating to GRuB today!

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