A little over a year ago, before we even launched the Veggiecator Educator certification program, Jackie was one of the first to sign up for our Veggiecation Educator Training Workshop. She had come across the program through KidsVille News, a free South Jersey resource for parents and educators. As a health conscious parent of three, she was immediately intrigued. Upon learning that there was a demand for classes in her town, Cherry Hill, but there was no one to teach them, she jumped at the opportunity.
Jackie’s interest in health and wellness stemmed from an on going struggle with her weight. Her parents were of a generation that didn’t know about the importance of whole foods and nutritionally balanced meals. Growing up on “pasta and potatoes,” she wanted to ensure that her children were introduced to a wider range of healthy foods.
As an actively involved mother of three, Jackie maintains various roles. She has a small tax practice and is a part-time employee of Springdale Farms in Cherry Hill. She is a member of her local PTAs (three girls in three different schools!), a Girl Scout Leader for two Troops and Cherry Hill Girl Scout Service Unit Event Coordinator, a member of the Mayor’s Wellness Committee, Religious Education Teacher, and Veggiecator Educator! Her numerous connections to the community have furthered her success as a VeggEd and are in part, how she spread the word of her classes.
But even with her busy schedule, she teaches roughly 2-4 times a month. Her most recent work has been at hospitals – the Kennedy Hospital Wellness Center where she prepared hand-picked, farm fresh produce with families and the Lourdes Hospital Bariatric Support Group Meeting where she offered healthy eating tips/recipes to adults who recently underwent or are contemplating weight loss surgery. Upcoming events include summer classes at a Girl Power camp at a local yoga studio.
Jackie’s work at Springdale Farms as an event coordinator and education assistant has gotten her especially excited about the Tower to Table Program! She sees how children react to the planting and harvesting lessons she teaches and believes in the impact that school gardens have on students. Most exciting, is the fact that these gardens can grow and be harvested year round unlike a typical outdoor garden. During our interview, Jackie related the Tower Gardens to the live butterfly garden in her daughter’s classroom, which helped illustrate the cycle of a butterfly to young children and literally bring the classroom to life.
Keep up all the amazing work, Jackie!
Favorite recipes to use
- Parsley Lemon Pesto – Because most kids refuse to eat green foods and are usually surprised when they taste this.
- Sweet Carrot Salad – Because it’s fun and has a LOT of ingredients and uses a LOT of our tools, kids usually say it doesn’t sound good before trying it.
- After teaching a class at her 6 year old daughter, Theresa’s, school, Theresa’s friends kept telling her how her mom was such a good cook but Theresa insisted that it was they who had prepared the recipe! What a true demonstration of kids empowering each other! Theresa told Jackie that “they were having so much fun they didn’t even know they were learning – good job mom!”
Favorite Part about Training and VEN
- Even though Jackie’s been a mom for 17 years, the tools she learned during the training gave her the confidence and skills to teach children about healthy eating the right way. She has a distinct memory from the first video in the training where Lisa turns the simple act of putting hand sanitizer on into a fun activity. Even if she’s feeling unsure at the beginning of a class, the simple act of emulating Lisa and shaking off the sanitizer centers her focus and prepares her for an awesome class! Being a part of the VEN network and group adds to her confidence as a Veggiecator Educator.