- Post 29 March 2012
What better way to spend a bright sunny spring morning than with a group of youth excited about opportunities to further their knowledge while changing the world. Antar Baker, Program Manager of Angelic Organics Learning Center is a phenomenal young man in the Rockford, IL community who is committed to helping our youth find a better path in life. With a fresh coat of bright green paint on the walls, Angelic Organics Learning Center provides the perfect backdrop for teaching all things sustainable. Antar, who happens to be a friend, is an avid drinker of African coffees, and often calls on me to talk to his youth groups about our company, travels, and life experiences. While he seems impressed with our work, the truth is, I'm always blown away by his work and the potential of the youth under his leadership.
Eco-Advocates is a vocational preparatory program on green jobs and urban agriculture for young adults facing barriers to employment. Eco-Advocates is coordinated by Comprehensive Community Solutions (CCS) and is offered in partnership with Angelic Organics Learning Center. Eco-Advocates is a member of Roots and Wings, a network of youth development and urban agriculture initiatives in Rockford.
When I asked participants what they liked most about the program, I heard, "I enjoy working outside with my hands; I love the dirt; this work gives me fond childhood memories of spending time in the garden with my grandmother." The youth are learning how to grow agricultural products and selling them in the local market. They operate a farming site within the community where they learn good agricultural practices. The program provides an opportunity to gain skills in business ownership. The students must develop their own business plan, marketing strategy, establish good accounting practices, and learn how to work together as a team. They are most proud of their basil where they offer it for sale in the local city market. What a burst of energy and opportunity that exists inside these youth. I'm certain these youth are on a pathway to unlocking great potential!
Angelic Organics Learning Center helps urban and rural people build local food systems. Offering opportunities to grow healthy food and a better quality of life, connect with farmers and the land, and learn agricultural and leadership skills. The organization's Urban Initiative works with Chicago and Rockford communities to build local food systems.