Category Archives: AmeriCorps News

Great Outcomes for Kids Choice



My name is Grace, and I am serving as an AmeriCorps member at the Monroe County Health Department. I work with the Kids Choice Program which visits rural local schools to teach the students about nutrition and physical activity. This quarter, we continued and completed our schools visits for the 2013-2014 school year. We shifted our focus to physical activity because we meet with students during recess, and have had an increase in regular attendance at Stinesville because the students really enjoyed the new outdoor games. During the last Stinesville lesson of the school year, we had the students complete post tests and were very pleased to see 6/10 of the students that completed both pre and post tests improved their scores by at least one point. Although it would have been nice to see a higher number, this is a great number considering the huge number of challenges we faced this year.

The program blog that was started last October was regularly updated roughly weekly with health posts, program updates, helpful nutrition links, and healthy recipes and saw an increase of 24 followers this quarter which nearly tripled the previous number of followers.  [Check out the Kids Choice blog here]


This quarter, we also had the program’s first Kids Choice Carnival which was held at Stinesville Elementary for students and their families. We are very pleased with the outcome, considering it was the first year for the carnival. There were roughly 40 attendees. The carnival was composed of nutrition and educational booths, local organization booths offering nutritional or physical activity related resources, indoor and outdoor games, face painting, and delicious snacks.  We were very happy that we were able to offer prizes and drawings for the games and attending as well as additional snacks after raising over $200 in gift cards, snack and prize donations thanks to generous local businesses. Our post event surveys that were completed by attendees showed they enjoyed the event and walked away with valuable information.


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Microgreens at the Hub

David Whitaker is a full time AmeriCorps member serving at Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard.  David submitted this Great Story with his second quarter progress report.  Nice work, David!


I started a micgrogreen growing operation this winter as a means to get fresh produce into the pantry when outdoor gardening wasn’t possible.  I have grown about 100 flats of either pea shoots, sunflower shoots, microradishes, spicy mix(microradishes and micromustards) and magenta spreen.  Each flat yields about 4 bags so around 400 patrons have had access to these nutritious microgreens to take home.  Patrons and volunteers have also had much interest in growing microgreens on their own.  I have had the chance to talk to over 100 patrons about growing their own microgreens as well as providing them with handouts that give step by step instructions on how to grow microgreens.  People have told me that they enjoy eating the microgreens very much and are even starting to grow them on their own!  MHCI stole this photo from Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard.  Check out all of the great work they do!  David is in the back wearing a blue t-shirt.  AmeriCorps Alum, Kendra Brewer is in the center wearing black.  Kendra stayed at the Hub after her term of service ended.  She is now the garden coordinator.

Volunteers Make All the Difference at Jameson Camp

This quarter, our volutneers did all types of service activities. We had quite a few volunteers who worked with our groups. They helped with our morning activities such as Artistic Expressions and Culinary Arts. They connected with our campers while having the opporutnity to engage with them in their personal area of interest. Since both these activities had a Wellness Week theme, they really got a hands on experience working with Wellness and our youth.

We had quite a few unique presenters as well! The Indiana Organ Procurement Fund visited camp (along with some actual human and animal organs) to discuss the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Our campers got a real hands on experience that they would never forget. A volunteer from the Asthma Alliance brought actual pig lungs, where she demonstrated to our campers what bad habits, such as smoking, can do to your lungs. We also had a really exciting visit from a local bee keeper. We did a dual presentation, on the importance of bees to the environment, the benefits of honey as a natural sweetner and a fruit salad recipe demonstration.

-Danielle Reed, AmeriCorps MemberDSCF1521

Welcome aboard AIHTI members of 2012-2013!

This September, AIHTI enrolled the first cohort of AmeriCorps members for the 2012-2013 term. To kick off the year, the team spent the weekend at Bradford Woods in Martinsville, Indiana. Members got to know each other better as they crossed a river of piranha-infested lava, made safe passage through a spider’s web, jumped off the 35 foot pamper pool and relaxed around a camp fire making s’mores.

This year’s team so far includes:

April Williams serving at IU Health Bloomington, Community Health

Erin Adams serving at IU Health Bloomington, WIC Clinic

Shelia Hall serving at LIFE Designs, Inc.

Kendra Brewer serving at Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard

Danielle Hart serving at the Monroe County Health Department, Kids Healthy Choice

Addy King serving at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana

Dana Smoler serving at the Ruth Lilly Health Education Center

James Goodall serving at Stepping Stones

Amanda McIntyre serving at the YMCA of Monroe County

Clemesia Beverly serving at the Youth Services Bureau of Monroe County

Lots of great opportunities to serve are still available.  Check them out on our new and improved School of Public Health website at  Join our team!  It’s going to be a great year!!Image

Member Spotlight: Clemesia Beverly

And for our last Member Spotlight of the term…

Clemesia Beverly, Youth Nutrition and Physical Activity Facilitator at the Youth Services Bureau of Monroe County

I am currently serving as a Youth Nutrition and Physical Activity Facilitator at the Youth Services Bureau of Monroe County, where the mission is to provide services, programs, referrals, and advocacy for youth and community education on issues concerning youth. Since 1972, the Youth Services Bureau of Monroe County has provided services in an effort to strengthen families, divert youth from the juvenile justice system, and to foster positive youth development. Family support and structure are necessary to the development of our community’s youth. YSB offers services, which foster positive family functioning and help, lay the groundwork to build healthy, productive, individuals.

While serving as a Youth Nutrition and Physical Activity Facilitator, I coordinate physical activities using interactive sessions and incorporate information on how it can be fun to make healthy decisions about food along with being active.  To ensure that the youth are developing from positive exposure, I have created a food program that introduces them to a diverse meal selection of food.

My current service project involves restructuring the present food program. As I mentioned before, I have selected food item many youth do not voluntarily eat on a regular basis. The purpose of the food program is to introduce a new taste of food to the youth’s palette as well as create a healthier meal selection that fulfills the new nutritional requirements for all Residential Childcare Institutions.

As an AmeriCorps/AIHTI member I have really enjoyed gaining practical experience by coordinating and implementing the food program.  As a member I have had the opportunity to grow to understand the positive and negatives to creating a program, and why it can be timely implementing a new program. Serving as an AmeriCorps member has help confirm that being activist for public health is truly what I love to do and making a difference in the community is what I am dedicated to doing.

Member Spotlight: Jacob Summer

AIHTI member Jacob Summer served at the Boys and Girls Club of Ellettsville, IN this term.


Since March, I have had the amazing opportunity to serve at the Boys and Girls Club in Ellettsville, Indiana. Over the past 5 months, I have met and interacted with over 200 amazing kids ranging from 6 years old to 14. I have had an absolutely wonderful experience getting to know these kids and could not be happier about my time there thus far.

I originally became acquainted with the Boys and Girls Club last October, when I started volunteering there during their afterschool program, helping with tutoring and leading active games with the kids. Then, to my great surprise and excitement, I was offered a position at the Club through Americorps. My older sister had previously been an Americorps VISTA member, so I was somewhat familiar with the Americorps program. So upon receiving an offer to continue to serve at the Club through Americorps, I was ecstatic. I had begun to fall in love with spending time with the kids at the Club, and getting to see them grow socially, academically, and physically. I very much wanted to continue to be a part of their lives, so I eagerly accepted the position of Fitness Activities Coordinator at the Boys and Girls Club.

During my first month-and-a-half, my main duty was to plan and implement a gardening program at the Club. Despite having little-to-no knowledge on the subject of gardening, I set out to construct a garden as well as plan gardening programs for the 40 or so kids who would be coming to our Club every day throughout the summer. I found that working on a garden was a great experience as I was primarily relying on the good graces of local farmers and businesses in order to get the plants in the ground. To my surprise, the entire process, despite being very time consuming and research intensive, was very enjoyable. I met many friendly and helpful people who were more than willing to offer advice as well as seeds and plant donations for our project. And the rewards that have come from this project have been numerous. Last week, we had our first Garden Party at the Club, where we served food that all came from our garden. Seeing the kids get to enjoy food that they themselves had grown and cared for, and seeing the pride in their eyes as they shared it with one another was an incredibly rewarding experience.


Throughout the summer, I have primarily served as the Active Game Coordinator for the Club’s summer camp program. Each week, I organize and lead around 12-16 active games with 40 or so kids who attend our summer camp. These activities range from dodgeball to kickball to water games to Olympic events this week. I also lead a weekly Wiffle Ball Club as well as Gardening Club twice per week over the summer. Through 9 weeks so far this summer, I have led 101 different kids in a combined 1100 hours of active games.

The experience has been truly amazing. Being able to teach kids about healthy lifestyles in fun and creative ways has been a constant joy for me this summer. It’s exhausting, but there is no other way I’d rather be spending my summer than with these amazing kids who constantly make me laugh and who make everything I do worthwhile.

Member Spotlight: Sara Weinzapfel

AmeriCorps member and Health Educator, Sara Weinzapfel, currently serves as Deaconess Family Medicine Residency, Evansville, IN.

I serve at Deaconess Family Medicine Residency as part of Healthy Expectations.  This team is built of many professionals including dietitians, social workers, nurses, AmeriCorps members, grant managers, and more.  They strive to help patients with every aspect of their life.  A large part of healthy expectations is serving prenatal patients.  I became part of this organization because of the opportunities it had to offer, and the great work it provides for their patients.  The staff involved an incredible team of individuals dedicated to their work, and this organization gave me skills and knowledge I would need to be successful.

[Serving as] Health Solutions Health Educator, I had the freedom to create class curriculums on almost any nutrition related subject. I worked with the grants manager to fund our program.  As a health educator, I completed follow up visits with the RD’s patients and assisted them with their nutrition goals. A large responsibility of mine was revising a program we provided for the children, and I worked with the grants coordinator to design classes and nutrition counseling for our patients.

My service project involved a gardening class for the pediatric patients at the residency.  Most of these children had either not gardened before, or simply did not have the yard space to grow a garden. We supplied pots, soil, and seeds to grow a container garden for the children to take home and grow. This program was successful and highly important to our population because many of these children had not been exposed to the education gardening can provide. The children were excited to learn and would provide updates on their plants in classes that followed. Next year we plan to make this an even bigger experience by working on a community garden.

…AmeriCorps and beyond

My AmeriCorps experience has been extremely valuable to both my education and success.  I can take what I have learned and use it in any aspect of my life. Since my goal is to become a registered dietitian, this opportunity exposed me to many different aspects of the dietetic field. It strengthened my teaching skills, knowledge, and gave me experience in community nutrition. I am very lucky to have been a part of this organization because I feel AmeriCorps is needed for the population I served. Our patients were dedicated to this program and really learned from what we had to offer to them. I have seen many patients grown and become successful because of the work the residency has to offer. AmeriCorps influenced me to search more into community nutrition, especially as a dietitian. When my term for AmeriCorps ends, I plan to finish graduate school and serve another year with AmeriCorps.

Member Spotlight: Ellen Spitz

Another AIHTI Member Spotlight – Ellen Spitz, New Hope Family Shelter

Hello all! My name is Ellen, and my AmeriCorps term has just about come to an end. It seems very bittersweet – as I start my new life and move on to grad school and my career, I will greatly miss my time serving in AmeriCorps and all the passion, motivation and knowledge it has brought me. My service host site was New Hope Family Shelter. New Hope provides temporary shelter for homeless families in Bloomington and Monroe County and, in collaboration with other agencies, helps those families regain housing by addressing the problems that led to homelessness.

New Hope Garden, early in the Spring 2012 season


My position at New Hope was Nutrition and Fitness Programs Coordinator. Because New Hope is a new organization and had no previous AmeriCorps members, I was able to create programs and take my position in any direction I felt was appropriate and necessary. This was one of my favorite parts of serving at New Hope. My supervisor and the other staff and volunteers were very confident in me and my abilities, and gave me the freedom and responsibility to choose how I wanted to use my time during my service.  Because of this, I discovered a creative and self-motivating side of myself that I never knew was there. At the beginning of my service, I didn’t really consider myself to be a very creative person, but now I believe quite the opposite. Developing programs from scratch and being able to choose the ways I felt would be most successful in effecting change in the nutrition and physical activity behaviors of our residents required a lot of creativity, and I was surprised at my ability to think outside the box. Another benefit of the freedom I was given was that I was able to create programs and serve with areas/topics that I was knowledgeable about and comfortable with.

My knowledge and experience with nutrition has led me to strongly believe that a focus on whole foods and fostering a strong connection with your food and where it comes from are key for life-long healthy eating. I was glad to be able to help many of the residents at New Hope begin to connect with their food chain and to see nutrition in a more positive way through the New Hope Garden, our weekly healthy (and usually vegetarian) dinners, a weekly share of healthy, organic and local produce from Getty’s Creek Farm. Our tour of Getty’s Creek Farm brought the concept of food full-circle for several children at the shelter.

A healthy vegetarian taco salad with homemade tortilla chips for dinner at the shelter


Radishes and kale from New Hope Garden’s first harvest


During my service, I strived to enact change in the children and adults’ lives that I touched, in addition to improving their access to important nutritional and physical activity resources. I very much enjoyed my time serving at New Hope. I hope that I have been able to make an impact on our residents as much as they have impacted my life. No one could have said it better than Gandhi: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

Member Spotlight: Terri Sheppard

In the follow up to our Member Spotlight series, we have AHITI Full Time member Terri Sheppard. Terri currently serves as a Health Educator at the Ruth Lilly Health Education Center, one of our many partner organizations. 

Terri: I serve at The Ruth Lilly Health Education Center in Indianapolis, IN. The mission of RLHEC is “to provide inspiring health education through innovative presentations that promote and reinforce healthy lifestyle choices for children and adults.” At RLHEC they teach health education to both children and adults on every level possible ranging from general health classes, to drug education classes. As a child I remember visiting the Center for a program and the experience that I had I’ve yet to forget. Once I learned about what they do, which is teaching health and impacting lives, I became even more interested.

My position as a Full Time AmeriCorps member here at the Ruth Lilly Health Education Center is as a Health Educator. I teach a variety of General Health classes to hundreds of students ranging from Pre-School to 7th grade. Aside from teaching I am also responsible for a Teacher Newsletter that comes out monthly and putting up a monthly whiteboard, both of which display information on nutrition and physical activity.

My AmeriCorps experience has truly been an unforgettable one, from the service term of 2010-2011, to the current 2011-2012 year. I have learned a lot about myself, my community, and about my strong desire to serve. To say the very least, this experience has been very insightful. Each day that I’ve spent serving has opened my eyes to many new things. In my life AmeriCorps plays the role as a significant piece to my future success. Before graduating in May 2011, I had no idea what I wanted to do once school was over and then I learned about AmeriCorps. I look at it as the perfect piece that I was missing. I was not quite ready to enter the work force, but at the same time I wanted to get more experience in my field, doing what it is that I love to do, working with children.

Since being in AmeriCorps I have grown physically, mentally, professionally, and socially. I have learned a lot about my strengths and weaknesses as both an individual and a professional. In everything that I do now, I try to make sure that I am fully aware of the necessary steps that need to be taken to complete my task successfully. It’s almost as if I’m creating an action plan for my life step by step. I’ve learned that my role serving as a health educator had made a tremendous impact on my community, more than what I was initially acknowledging.

Serving with AmeriCorps at the Ruth Lilly Health Education Center has opened my eyes to want to explore more with educational organizations in terms of career choices and options. This is not something I took up in college but I find it interesting as a result of being in AmeriCorps. I never really saw myself as the teaching type, but since I have been given the opportunity to do that as well as work with children I learned that I am as passionate about education as I am health. Had it not been for this experience with AmeriCorps, I probably would not have missed out on this aspect of growth in my life. 

For information about the Ruth Lilly Health Education Center and its various programs, watch this video newly released on their Facebook page today.

Reflections on ‘Energize Evansville’

A small group of AIHTI members recently executed their AmeriCorps Week service project (a few months after the official national AmeriCorps Week, no bother!), which they had been planning for quite some time.

Congratulations, team ‘Energize Evansville’ for a job well done!


We asked members Nancy Morales (middle) and Terri Sheppard (right) to share a bit about the experience. Read what they said below:

Talk a bit about your group’s service project.

Terri: [For our AmeriCorps service project] we chose to focus on getting children, and potentially their parents, aware of healthier lifestyles through interactive nutrition education and physical activity.

Nancy: The project took place in Evansville, IN.  The event was called ‘Energize Evansville’ and the goal was to educate children on physical activity and nutrition. They learned about the importance of exercising at least an hour per day and eating healthy meals.

What activities did you have for the children?

Nancy: We had different activities for children to learn about how much sugar a drink has, and how much fat chips contain.  For physical activity, the team and I had relay races and tennis set up.  We kept them moving and learning about nutrition.  It was a fun and interactive event, perfect for any age group.

Most of the members who participated in the event serve in Bloomington. Why then did you choose to hold the event in Evansville?

Nancy: [We felt] that this was a particularly important event for the community because Evansville is known for having high rates of obesity, which is one of the reasons we wanted to target children in the Evansville area.

Terri: At the time of planning back in 2011, Evansville was ranked the most obese city in the nation. To us that was a very big deal. In order for us to make the most out of our experience we chose take our services there, and there came about “Energize Evansville.”

And the turnout?

Terri: The day of our event, unfortunately we had a surprisingly low turnout. Those that we did have however expressed to us that they were having a great time. When we began to pack up, one girl said, “Wait! No! Is it over? I don’t wanna leave yet.” That was a little reminder letting us know that even though we only had a few children come out, the ones that did come made the time worthwhile.

Though turnout may have been less than ideal (Unfortunately, isn’t that the case with so many nonprofit events?), their efforts still impacted those they did reach and did so in a positive way. Hard to feel bad about that!

Again, good effort Energize Evansville!

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