At OutGrowth, we recently had the opportunity to work with Sameena Jaggi through our Farm to Future program, where we immerse students in small farm businesses for a day, merging outdoor experiential learning with career competency building and small business development.
Sameena provided incredible value to our day, and approached us recently with some writing she had done on her experience, so we just had to share! Happy reading.
I recently had the opportunity to be a part of a Farm-to-Business immersion event organized by Carey Business School in partnership with OutGrowth.
Students from Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School visited Farming 4 Hunger, which is a non-profit organization working toward food growing and distribution, workforce development with individuals previously incarcerated, and addiction initiatives in the Southern Maryland community.
I have three key takeaways from this experience:
1. Everyone Deserves a Second Chance
It is never too late to learn from your mistakes, get up and start working on yourself. I learned that circumstances can play a huge role in influencing one’s actions.
Standing in front of a wall at the farm called the “Wall of Second Chances,” I saw photographs of individuals who had the courage not to give in to circumstances and work towards transforming their lives. These ex-inmates got enrolled in the Farming 4 Hunger program and diligently worked on the farm to build a better future not only for themselves, but also for their community.
While interviewing some of the workers at Farming 4 Hunger, I realized that they are not only involved in the farming initiatives, but some of these people also lead programs for young adults to educate them on drug-related issues. They visit neighborhoods and schools to educate students through personal experiences and mentorship programs.
2. There is Strength in Unity
Most of the ex-inmates said that what kept them going and motivated them was a sense of belonging. The team at Farming 4 Hunger is a family. They support each other, look out for each other, believe in each other and welcome all those in need of help.
Working toward the goal of building a better community as a team, and building strength in unity is undoubtedly a major factor contributing to the success of the organization.
3. The Importance of Experiential Learning
Listening to someone talk about an initiative is very different from being a part of the day-to-day functioning of an organization to understand its history, values and mission.
As an international graduate student, I really appreciate the opportunity for community engagement.
I had been working with NGOs in the fields of education and women empowerment back in India, but this was the first time I witnessed incarceration and addiction so closely. It was both an inspiring and transformative experience for me.
Throughout the day, we did some great team building exercises, each of which had a greater lesson. I heard personal stories of battles with addiction and incarceration and learned about the overlap between business and community. I also worked in groups with other students to develop solutions and further opportunities to improve the organization.
I’m grateful to Carey Business School, OutGrowth and Farming 4 Hunger for giving me the chance to learn about Business with Humanity in Mind (Carey’s mission).
It was a day well spent at Farming 4 Hunger redefining business, community and social impact through experiential learning.
Sameena is an international student at the Carey Business School and recent participant in OutGrowth's Farm to Future program.