Once a week throughout the year, you can find the young adults at a local farm, non-profit organization, or local business, providing service and learning about various aspects of the local Vermont community. Whether it is weeding at a family-run farm that combines sustainable agricultural practices with education or helping out at a locally owned farm that produces food for guests using local and organic ingredients, the young adults are consistently delving into learning experiences that are designed to expand their horizons and build upon the skills they are developing while enrolled at True North. Many of these opportunities highlight what help to make Vermont a special place, such as local engagement, sustainability-focused education, and farm to table foods.
At at farmstead in Roxbury, Vermont, students and guides learn about managing a sustainable farm that produces various types of vegetables, grains, and fruit. Along with helping to weed vegetable plots, feed the pigs, and general farm-based projects, the young adults also take part in educational activities centered on global food sources and population-to-food ratios. These visits help foster a sense of global responsibility on a local level amongst our young adults students.
True North’s headquarters is located in the village of Waitsfield where there are many thriving businesses. One food production company that was founded here and is still based just down the road from the True North offers a great spot for our young adult students to visit. On these visits, students typically help with a project for the farm and restaurant, tour the facilities and get a lesson on how they are used, and have the opportunity to sit and speak with one of the leaders of the company and hear the story of how the business came to be. This can be a powerful exchange and a catalyst for discussion about hard work and positive attitude in following a passion.
One of the regular trips that young adults take is to work with the Parks Department in a nearby town. Working to help protect the parks and natural areas of the state while also learning about the local biology and how nature can successfully interact with human space allows the young adults to expand their perspective of the interconnectedness of nature and human infrastructure. Working with the Director of the Parks Department, the students also have the opportunity to use the skills they’ve learned at True North by working as a team to complete projects.
These day trips often serve as an opportunity for our young adults students to not only start sharing parts of their story with the outside world, but for them to hear personal stories from local organizations and people as well. A major aspect of our young adult program is the development of one’s narrative. Working with local business owners allows for further development of their story. Many times, students will leave these projects feeling fulfilled because of the work and learning opportunity, as well as the chance to interface with local business owners. Service projects function as a bridge between the work students are doing in the program and the ongoing routines of the local community.