Even though Katie Morabito grew up tending to her family garden and playing outdoors, she never knew that was her true passion until she began volunteering with the Sustainable Agriculture Project at Grand Valley.
“You never know what a few volunteer hours can lead to,” said Morabito.
Originally from Tucson, Arizona, Morabito graduated from Grand Valley in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in integrated science for elementary education, and a minor in environmental studies.
As part of her minor electives, Morabito chose the global agricultural sustainability course. It focuses on developing a service learning project for the SAP and requires students to volunteer at the farm, which is where Morabito’s passion first began to bloom.
“After the first few hours of volunteering on the farm I immediately knew I would be there longer than what was required for class,” she said. “I am someone who needs hands-on experience to pair with what is being taught in the classroom and the SAP is an excellent resource for that type of learning.”
Morabito continued to serve with the SAP as a volunteer and also became a leader in Grand Valley’s Farm Club.
After graduation, Morabito spent time giving back to the SAP and worked closely with Levi Gardner, manager of the SAP, teaching high school students about sustainable agriculture as part of GVSU’s Upward Bound program.
“Katie is a tremendous student who took hold of her own education and is passionate about the idea of sustainability,” said Gardner. “She worked to craft her education in the way she wanted and utilized what was available to her at Grand Valley to determine where her path was going to take her.”
Her continued work with the SAP eventually led Morabito to her current position with FoodCorps, a national nonprofit organization that works to teach kids about healthy food, build and tend school gardens and bring high-quality local food into public school cafeterias. Morabito is one of 80 service members involved in FoodCorps.
As a FoodCorps service member, Morabito partners with an elementary school in Liberty, Maine, working with students in the school’s greenhouse, integrating garden-based nutrition education into classrooms and working with the food service director to encourage use of local foods.
“I am passionate about kids and their health and well-being and I believe this type of education needs to go hand-in-hand with other types of standard curriculum,” said Morabito. “Kids need to be taught about food just as much as they are taught about math and science.”
Morabito said both her time at Grand Valley and her experience with the SAP has led her to where she is today.
“Since Grand Valley is a liberal arts school I had room in my schedule to take the global agricultural sustainability class, and without that experience I may not be where I am today,” she said. “Being able to make that choice made me so much more invested in my own learning.”
In the future, Morabito said she hopes to see the continued growth of both the FoodCorps organization and sustainable practices as a whole.
“Food is something we all need and is a common ground for all of us,” said Morabito.
For more information about FoodCorps click here; for the Sustainable Agriculture Project click here.