CommonGround volunteers and state staff came together in St. Louis June 20 and 21 to inspire, empower and connect with each other. Just like other moms across the country, these women are passionate about their food, their children and each other.
Through interactive sessions, inspiring panels and exciting activities, participants fostered their skills of advocating for agriculture. Highlights of this week’s event included a panel of inspiring women conducted by Tricia Beal, CEO of the Farm Journal Foundation. Panelists included six-time Olympic medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Balkan Treat Box owner Loryn Nalic, CommonGround Nebraska volunteer and J&S Feedlot Co-owner Joan Ruskamp and Dr. Ruth Kaggwa of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.
“Jackie Joyner-Kersee reminded us there is gold in everyone. I believe CommonGround has had that in mind from the beginning in our approach to connect our stories from the farm to urban moms,” said Ruskamp, reflecting on what her fellow panelist shared to the group. “We are called to see the gold in others beyond our CommonGround experiences, into our everyday lives bringing value and dignity to every person we meet.”
Volunteers and state staff also had the opportunity to interact with students at the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Community Center—the foundation brings STEM learning opportunities to East St. Louis students. The idea for the collaborative reading event came following the success of the Kansas affiliation’s Growing Readers program. Older students ask questions to a small group of volunteer panelist while the younger students read ag-based books with CommonGround volunteers.
This year’s conference was created to help inspire, empower, and connect participants. With a heavy focus on community involvement, CommonGround participants were able to connect with the young people of St. Louis while given the opportunity to network with other women in the agriculture industry.
“What I took away is how much we need each other. As resources, for camaraderie and support that sometimes can be hard to find with other groups and friends. These women truly fill the gap in my life that sometimes no one else can. And I am forever grateful,” said Lauren Biegler, CommonGround Minnesota volunteer.
CommonGround is a grassroot movement developed by the National Corn Growers Association and supported by state corn and soy affiliations. Volunteers come together to connect with mothers passionate about raising their kids and where their food comes from.
Learn more about the impact of CommonGround and its volunteers at www.findourcommonground.com