Hands-on Learning Designed to Instill Lifelong Healthy Habits, Stewardship of the Environment, and Civic Mindedness

By Tara Fort • Photo by Trisha Shaffer

Former AmeriCorps VISTA (V olunteers in Service to America) member Sara Reveile had a goal for the Farm to School Program beyond her VISTA end date. She applied for—and was awarded—an Arizona Community Foundation grant to fund the continuation of the Farm to School Coordinator position with Prescott Unified School District (PUSD). In June 2022, district personnel hired her on as an official employee.

Sara, a graduate of Prescott High School, said, “The mission of PUSD’s Farm to School Program is to provide students at every grade level with access to hands-on learning that teaches them how to care for their own well-being by caring for the well-being of their school garden environment and community. The program strives to instill lifelong healthy habits, stewardship toward the environment, and civic mindedness in its students.”

PUSD Superintendent Joe Howard said, “Sara has been instrumental in not only bringing gardens to every school in PUSD, but she also in bringing funding, enthusiasm, interest, and culture to make the whole process sustainable, which is exactly what she and her programs are teaching our children to be able to do.”

Sara helps manage eight school gardens throughout the district.

“Before the VISTA project,” she said, “teachers spent countless hours performing regular garden maintenance, daily hand-watering, and coordinating volunteers to keep the school garden alive. Now, I help manage a team of AmeriCorps Garden Assistants and community volunteers who take this burden away from teachers.”

Always looking for volunteers, Sarah said, “We encourage anyone who has an interest in gardening to join our school garden community and help our teachers get kids outdoors. I receive the greatest fulfillment witnessing our students’ excitement when eating fresh fruits and vegetables they have grown themselves.

One of the few districts in the state that offers free outdoor learning opportunities and access to school gardens at every age and school, PUSD has a vast amount of green space including school gardens, schoolyard habitats, a trail system and access to the Prescott Community Nature Center.

Sarah said, “I am so grateful for the opportunity PUSD has given me to serve my community in such an impactful way by contributing to the overall wellness of our schools.”

It’s no surprise that in her free time, Sarah said, she enjoys, “Growing my own food at home! Thanks to my husband, the Trails and Wilderness Coordinator for the Prescott National Forest, we are never short of trails to explore!”

Sarah also devotes time to Slow Food Prescott, which is part of a national organization whose mission is to inspire people to eat healthy by increasing access to locally grown food.

For more information about Sara Reveile and the Prescott Unified School District, visit www.prescottschools.com.