SSI Travel Grantee: Rachel Tholl

June 11th, 2014 | Rachel Tholl
Rachel Tholl received a $50 SSI Travel Grant to travel to Tempe, Arizona to attend the Clinton Global Initiative University from March 21-23, 2014. She wrote a brief blog post for the Ecologue to describe the experience.

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The Clinton Global Initiative first caught my eye when the SSI Faculty Advisor, Jen Christion-Myers, brought it up at one of our weekly SSI staff meetings. The word that caught my attention while I took notes was “Clinton.” I am an avid fangirl of the Clinton family – former President Bill, the (hopefully future President) Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the amazing author and mother-to-be Chelsea Clinton – and a chance to be in the same room as them was very exciting. Myself, Annie Kersting (SSI’s Landscape Coordinator), and Jen all started meeting and collaborating on ideas for projects that we could create to take to CGI to represent OSU. We played with the idea of a green roof, but eventually came up with Growing Food Security. With the fantastic help of HSRC Food Pantry’s Lauren Nichols and Lydia Elliott, and the Center for Civic Engagement’s Corin Bauman, we created a plan to grow food organically at the Oak Creek Center for Urban Horticulture, donate it to the Food Pantry, supply reusable bags to the Food Pantry, and host canning and cooking classes once a term. The six of us began meeting once every other week, since Annie, Jen, and I were all very busy writing applications to OSU and CGI, to name just two of the places we were explaining the project to.

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Long story short, we were accepted into CGIU and OSU’s former Vice-President Larry Roper with Mirabelle Fernandes-Paul helped us prepare and fund our fees and travel. Myself, Annie, and Lydia all traveled to Tempe, Arizona right before Spring Break with our fancy skirts, dress pants, and collared shirts. The experience was amazing; I had never traveled alone before, nor been in the same room as people as amazing as the Clinton family. The thousands of international students in the program were all so energetic and full of aspirations and hope for the future – it was inspiring to see young people my age get excited about changing the future with their own hands!

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Growing Food Security will have its first canning and cooking classes in the Fall term of 2014, and will hopefully continue past the 2014-2015 school year. If you’d like more information on how to get involved, whether as a participant or a volunteer, please email, call, or visit the SSI, which is on the south end of campus. Or you can apply to go to CGIU in 2015, if you have a project as awesome as Growing Food Security! Talk to Mirabelle Fernandes-Paul if you’d like to get involved. The application process starts in Fall and I’d encourage anyone with anything as initial as an idea to apply!

- Rachel Tholl


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