We recently said thank you, goodbye and good luck to Angela Leyba, a military veteran, who graduated from our first Farming Internship with San Francisco Foundation and Farmer Veteran Coalition. Angela's family and friends joined the Slide Ranch team and staff from San Francisco Foundation and the Farmer Veteran Coalition for the graduation celebration, where we looked back at Angela's time here and presented her graduation certificate.
Angela, a former U.S. Army Apache helicopter mechanic, has done tours of duty in Korea, Bosnia and Afghanistan. After the Army, she attended culinary school. Last August she became a farming intern here at Slide Ranch through our partnership with the San Francisco Foundation and the Farmer Veteran Coalition, a national organization with the mission to mobilize veterans to feed America.
Nicknamed “the chicken whisperer" Angela, was an amazing fit here at Slide Ranch right from the start. From learning how to care for our animals and manage farm chores, to learning about sustainable farming practices and participating in a full farm season from seed to table, Angela has left Slide Ranch with a wealth of knowledge and practical experience that she can apply to her next role. And she also spent time teaching us – training our staff in basic tractor and farm vehicle maintenance.
Emily Cohen, Program Director at Slide Ranch, opened the graduation ceremony: "We are proud and honored to take this opportunity to celebrate Angela’s time at the ranch." Emily went on to say: "What you might not know is that in spite of our familiarity with this format, Angela honestly blew us out of the water from day one. She brought an amazing work ethic to the team, showed strong leadership and a had a wonderful sense of humor throughout."
Francesca Veitor, Program Director for the Environment, Public Policy and Civic Engagement at the San Francisco Foundation also attended the ceremony. Francesca was a long-time board member and supporter of Slide Ranch, and was a key player in making this special and important collaboration happen. Also in attendance was Michael O’Gorman, Executive Director and founder of the Farmer Veteran Coalition, and Jeff Macloud, 25 year US Air Force veteran and COO of Farmer Veteran Coalition. Michael shared his amazing story about starting the organization out of the back of his truck after being involved with very large scale farming, and Jeff kindly photographed the event. Thank you all!
So what's next for Angela? Well, Angela was recently interviewed for an article in Edible Marin & Wine Country and told the magazine, “When I got to Slide Ranch, I thought, ‘Where have you been all my life?’”. She now wants to help other vets have the same experience and also hopes to open a farm-to-table restaurant. Read the article here.
Many of you know that Slide Ranch is a nonprofit educational farm that connects kids with nature and teaches them about sustainable eating and living. But, many people don't know that Slide Ranch was an early leader in the food sustainability movement and our mission was built around a concept of training new farmers and teachers about sustainable farming, education and environmental stewardship. We were founded in the same year as Earth Day, and have been training the trainers since 1970! We hope Angela is the first of many military veterans to experience and benefit from this collaborative Farming Internship Program.
Congratulations, thank you and good luck Angela.
Photos by Jeff Macloud, Farmer Veteran Coalition.