Diana Bergman, Olivewood Gardens Learning Center

“I started off as a biology major at UC San Diego and I was really into plants. I wanted to do something to make a difference in the world, but at the time the only thing I knew was teaching and I didn’t want to be a doctor or a researcher. So I became a secondary science teacher. I taught middle school and high school for a couple of years. Then I taught an environmental education class and discovered that I really wanted to be teaching kids about the environment. At that time, I changed jobs, and began working at the Natural History Museum. I worked there for a little bit and then I got a job working for a little local government agency called The Resource Conservation District. I was in charge of doing all of their environmental education work. That was a really great experience. I think from that point I could see more broadly the different ways that a person could make a difference in helping the environment.”

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“I have a three-year-old now and I try to get him here as often as I can. I’m constantly showing him new types of fruits and vegetables. I’m showing him where they’re growing in the garden. I’m introducing him to the chickens and to the worm bin. He gets really excited about those things now. He knows that apples and other fruit come from trees. He knows where strawberries grow. He knows that he can’t have blueberries at this time of year because it’s too cold and these are a spring fruit. I think it’s paying off in my personal life as well as my professional life. I see changes happening in the broader community of National City as well. We have kids that come here, when they’re in third grade, then in fourth grade, and fifth grade again.”

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“One of the things that we do here is try and empower the children to make positive choices about their health. We try to empower the parents to think about the impacts of their food choices as well and how they can help steer their family towards healthier eating.”

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“We wouldn’t function as an organization without the help of volunteers. We work with over 400 volunteers a year. In the field trip program, we have volunteers teaching lessons. We have them providing support to our garden educators and to our kitchen educators. We have internships as well. For anyone who wants to make a difference in the community and in their local food system, I think this is a great place for them to start because they can work directly with children. They can learn about other organizations that have similar roles as we do in the community, trying to reduce childhood obesity, trying to drive positive decision making even at the city level, for example,influencing decisions about the types of restaurants that they want to see in the community. It’s a great place to meet folks that have similar beliefs as they do and to explore new ways to branch out and make the difference that they want to make.”