Volunteers of the Month: Abigail Bradshaw, Abigail Pak, and Kenzie Westergard

August 27, 2021

CUESA’s Volunteer of the Month program recognizes the dedication and work of some of our most active volunteers. CUESA relies on volunteers to help with education programs, special events, public outreach, and other activities that help fulfill our mission to cultivate a sustainable food system. Learn more about volunteering and submit an application here.

After more than a year’s hiatus from the pandemic, San Francisco’s summer reopening allowed CUESA to gratefully restart in-person Foodwise Kids classes, with modifications for the moment. CUESA hosted nearly 200 Foodwise Kids, including five groups at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and six other community centers and schools offsite, including SF Recreation and Parks Department, Alameda Unified, YMCA, Tel-Hi and Boys and Girls Club Tenderloin.

CUESA welcomed three summer Westmont College interns—Kenzie Westergard, Abigail Pak, and Abigail Bradshaw (above, left to right)—to support Foodwise Kids and other programs. “Foodwise Kids would not have happened without the help of Kenzie and Abby (Pak) this summer,” says Education Manager Tiffany Chung. “Even though their experience working with youth was limited, they really pushed themselves out of their comfort zones and were instrumental in ensuring that the return to in-person programming this summer went as smoothly and as successfully as possible. With their experiences, Abby wrote an insightful article about Foodwise Kids, and Kenzie took beautiful photos of the program in action. In addition, they both assisted with writing the script and filming the last video of our Foodwise Kids educational video series (soon to be published!). It has been a pleasure working with Abby and Kenzie this summer, and it is really amazing how much they were able to contribute in such a short amount of time!”

“We are so glad Abi (Bradshaw) chose to intern with CUESA this summer,” says Partnerships and Events Manager Rebecca Crawbuck. “During her time with us, she supported multiple projects across departments—fundraising events, farmers market operations, our Foodwise Kids program, and more. She honed her knack for systems organization and shared her passion for advocating for the disability community. Abi’s work really made an impact with us!”

The three of them shared their reflections from the summer:

Abigail “Abi” Brashaw

Interning at CUESA has been a dream! This summer I had the opportunity to be an events intern under Rebecca Crawbuck, and I could not be more grateful for my experience. I have loved my time in the office, and have realized that I truly do have an interest in development, but my favorite experiences have been on the ground in the markets. Building relationships with the farmers and community members is what it’s all about. As I think about returning back to Santa Barbara for school, I am so sad to leave behind my favorite vendors, knowing I won’t get another K&J Orchards peach for a while, but I am so excited to take back all that I have learned to our local markets. Thank you, CUESA!

Abigail “Abby” Pak

Coming into this internship, I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. I believed in what CUESA stood for—sustainability, community, food accessibility and equity, intersectional thinking and reconciliation, etc.—but, I wasn’t quite sure if teaching kids was my “best contribution.” If that sounds uppity, it’s because it is. As kids spat out chunks of carrots and stole strawberries from my hands, I realized that teaching kids is incredibly important work. Grownups, they often make change a little too late, and kids, they spend most days wanting to be superheroes, to be special, to change the world. If I truly believe that our world can change, then I must believe in children and the teaching of children. I also learned that the people you work with can make a world of a difference. Tiffany, my Foodwise Kids supervisor and someone I admire deeply, is one of my favorite people at CUESA. Coming out of a classroom, she, every volunteer and I, exhausted, reminds me that I am human and so are the people I trust and love and that teaching kids is always going to be messy and hard but good. As I head back to college, I know that I don’t want to teach kids in my future, but what I also know, is that if I can convince a kid to eat broccolini and to like cucumbers, then I can probably do just about anything.

Kenzie Westergard

Last year I took a food systems class at Westmont College that sparked my awareness about sustainability, labor/migrant workers, food security, and overall health and wellness. While I recognize I had only dipped my toe into these important topics, I felt compelled to act in what little ways I could to better any one or more of these complex issues. My internship search led to CUESA where my hope for learning more about these issues emerged. What is unique about CUESA is its educational element and role in sustaining the farmers market. I became involved in helping out with Foodwise Kids classes where change begins at an early age. Through that program, I secretly wished I had had that at my school growing up to learn early on about farmer’s markets and the beautiful variety of produce that exists on this planet. I experienced change in action.

As a country girl, it was an interesting experience living in the city and working with CUESA. I wasn’t sure where my place was here. That was, until my perspective shifted and I was able to see the incredible bridge that CUESA as an organization is—a bridge to connect the rural and urban ways of life. Through the farmers market, growers bring their produce into the city where city dwellers can connect to the earth through the beauty and vitality of what was grown. I was blessed by the generosity of farmers as they slipped in an extra fruit into my bag. I was carrying a gift of joy with me back into the city. The city has an active way of promoting, supporting, and celebrating local growers that sustains them through hardship. There’s a beautiful reciprocity that happens here at CUESA. I’ve noticed that when I physically cross the street and near the Ferry Building on market days, the atmosphere shifts to one of liveliness, connection, and a bit of familial attributes. It’s a beautiful interaction to witness, one that brings hope into times of tension and a place where I and others can find connection to the earth in the midst of an incredibly complex city.