August 26, 2018 at 11:37 am

Happy Beginnings | Food and Society Alumni Are Biting into Food Careers


Food studies graphic, with outlines of eggplant, tomato, corn, etc.

Editor’s Note: The Happy Beginnings series features recent College of Arts & Sciences graduates who are getting started in careers, graduate school and service.

Check out the awesome ways some of Food and Society Certificate recipients are biting into the food system, in Athens, in Columbus, in Washington, New York, North Carolina and more.

Class of 2018

Adrienne Covington, B.S.S. in Human and Plant Integrative Studies

“I’ve taken this summer to fully dive into producing food for myself and my family on our property in Athens. My goals for this summer were to fully be a part of the whole cycle of a growing season. From the beginning planning stages to throughout season harvesting, trying varying growing patterns, varieties, and modalities to produce yummy food and finding ways to fight weeds and pests,” Covington says.

“It’s been an experiment to find what works and what doesn’t. Beyond testing my own ideas, I’ve been spending time helping and volunteering around other farms in the surrounding areas to see what techniques they are using. Things I’ve taken away so far are that every piece of land is different and requires an active, attentive mind and listener to find what works for that local ecosystem.

“A huge part of growing food and playing an active role in your local food system is learning how to spend time with the land, taking note of the shadows, soil, insects and moisture that change throughout the land. Also important: Being mindful of how much work is too much. Letting go of ideas of uniformity to find the beauty in nature’s authentic patterns. Remembering that growing food can be an art and a science.

“And what I find in the minds of most people who grow their own food is the love of connection and balance they find in their lives and communities, where everyone can be a part of the shared goal of growing food,” she concludes.

Joy Kostansek in the high tunnel at the OHIO Student Garden.

Joy Kostansek in the high tunnel at the OHIO Student Garden.

Joy Kostansek, B.A. in Sociology

“After graduating with my Sociology degree, I have spent the summer in Athens working for a wonderful local business called Pork & Pickles. As a part of the team, I have gained valuable skills in butchering, commercial food production, and cooking incredibly delicious food in The Kitchen, our restaurant partnership with Devil’s Kettle Brewery,” Kostansek says.

“After spending the summer working with my hands, I will be returning to Ohio University to pursue my master’s degree in sociology through an applied policy track. Additionally, I will be serving as the graduate assistant on a project funded through the Sugar Bush Foundation that is a partnership between Ohio University’s Food Studies program, Rural Action, and Community Food Initiatives.

“I am looking forward to these experiences fueling my future career in food and agriculture policy reform, but I am especially looking forward to another year in the Athens community!” she adds.

Class of 2017

Raina Schoonover, B.S. in Geography and Urban Planning

“I’ve just finished my first year term as an Americorps VISTA with Community Food Initiatives. I helped launch SEO Foodlink – an online resource hub for emergency food locations and food access in Southeast Ohio.

Click on the links to take a look at the new resource (including a map of locations), and keep an eye out for future updates! On August 1st I start my next Americorps term as a Comcorps member promoting wellness at the SEO Regional Foodbank while teaching Live Healthy Kids classes to local elementary schools. After three wonderful years working at the Village Bakery, I am now working a few days per week at JackieOs Public House uptown. I’m happy and grateful to be immersed in the local food economy of Southeast Ohio. I feel incredibly lucky to gain professional experience while utilizing my degree and certification at local organizations.

Alexandria Polanosky, portrait

Alexandria Polanosky

Alexandria Polanosky, B.S. in Visual Communications

“Since graduating just over a year ago with the Food and Society Certificate and a B.S. in Visual Communication, I worked as an AmeriCorps VISTA for the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet), a small business incubator for low income entrepreneurs and food hub,” Polanosky says.

“Much of my work involved building up and marketing a local farmers market. Upon completing my AmeriCorps term, I was hired on at ACEnet as a Multimedia Designer. These positions allowed me to combine my various areas of study and interests into a rewarding job.

“I am currently in Pittsburgh, working at the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank to coordinate getting excess produce donations from our numerous farmers markets into over 400 agencies, like food pantries and soup kitchens, in the region to be distributed to those in need.

“I will be returning to Athens in the fall! The Food and Society Certificate program allowed me to feel my interests in our food system were tangible and guided me down a career path where I can use my unique combination of skills,” she adds.

Sasha Estrella-Jones, portrait while boating

Sasha Estrella-Jones

Sasha Estrella-Jones, B.A. in Anthropology, Honors Tutorial College

While at Ohio University, Estrella-Jones’ research aimed to map out networks and relations of individuals involved in alternative food networks within Athens County. By exploring local definitions of and barriers to accessing good food, her thesis gauged how the Athens’ food network compared with national and local movements in terms of inclusivity of socioeconomic groups.

Estrella-Jones received a Fulbright U.S. English Teaching Assistant Award 2017-2018, and following graduation she moved to Senegal to teach English at a middle school.

Currently, she is back in New York City and is applying to graduate school. Estrella-Jones believes that the politics behind food—what we eat, how we eat and our access to “good food” —are one of the most pressing issues that world is currently facing and is passionate about working on food policy on an international scale.

Class of 2016

David Doddridge, BSS of Specialized Studies

Doddridge is one of the first students to graduate from Ohio University with the Food and Society Certificate. He has used his education in a many different fashions, including working as the School Garden Coordinator at Community Food Initiatives through COMCorps.

Food Studies provided him with a background in the cultural context of agriculture and foodways. He is now living in Columbus.

“I am working for two different entities. Integrated Services for behavioral health, and Franklinton Gardens (soon to be Franklinton Farms). My position is unique in that two days out of the week I will be working with Gladdin preschool in Franklinton to give garden and healthy food lessons to the students in the brand new learning garden. The other three days out of the week I am working with the farm manager to work on the urban farm plots and understand the food systems, and deliver food via CSA.”

Class of 2015

Anna Chleboun, B.S.S. in Dance, Psychology, Religious Studies, and Food Studies

“Immediately after graduating from Ohio University, I was hired as the Assistant to the Director of the Food Studies theme. For the following year I helped to grow the curriculum, formalize the weekly veggie sales, organized events, and worked with organizations and businesses in the Athens community to get students real experience in local food systems.

“I have since moved out to Washington state, originally to manage—plan, plant, harvest and process— the garden of an amazing property. I have also been on the ground floor of the opening of the hippest new restaurant and coffee house in Bellingham.

“Now I am on my way to Flagstaff, Ariz., to pursue a master’s in medical anthropology at Northern Arizona University, with the intention of working in community health.”
Janice Brewer, B.S.S. in Sustainable Agriculture

After graduating from Ohio University in 2015, Brewer spent time in Athens as a COMCorps member with Community Food Initiatives. In addition to this service position, she also has worked with Shagbark Seed and Mill, as well as with seasonal farm work in the region.

Brewer now currently resides in Asheville, N.C., and works as the garden manager of the Lord’s Acre, a non-profit organization that grows organic produce for donation in an effort to combat food insecurity. In this position, she helps to grow and manage the garden space, as well as educate and lead the many volunteers that help the organization operate as successfully as it does. She is looking forward to growing roots in Asheville and continuing to explore the community.

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