Published Aug 14, 2020

Saying Goodbye to our AmeriCorps Volunteers

By Practical Farmers of Iowa

Hannah Grosspietsch and Phoebe Eichhorst are finishing up their AmeriCorps terms with us this week. From planning the first youth session at the conference to assisting at field days and more, Phoebe and Hannah have been instrumental to PFI over the past year.

Thank you Phoebe and Hannah and best of luck in your future endeavors!

Where are you from?

Hannah: I am originally from a suburb of Chicago called Lake Zurich, Illinois.

Phoebe: Kearney, Nebraska, but I went to the University of North Dakota, so I spent the last four years in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Explain a little about AmeriCorps and why you chose to get plugged in with them.

20190719 FieldDay JPG 0168Hannah: After graduating with a degree in animal science from Iowa State University, I was looking for a job that would build skills for the future. I have always been interested in sustainable agriculture, so when Green Iowa AmeriCorps placed me with Practical Farmers of Iowa, I knew it would be a great fit. My first AmeriCorps term was summer 2019 and I liked it so much I came back for a year of full-time service.

Phoebe: AmeriCorps is an opportunity to do national service around the country. There are programs highlighting poverty reduction, forestry – and for Green Iowa AmeriCorps, we focus on improving energy and the environment in Iowa.

I applied and interviewed for AmeriCorps about a week before I moved to Iowa, so things moved very quickly for me. I wanted to learn more about agriculture and sustainability, and I wanted to have a unique first job experience outside of college. AmeriCorps has been a great experience, and PFI has been an absolutely amazing host site.

What are some of the main projects you worked on?

Hannah: You might recognize me from working at quite a few 2019 field days. More recently, I helped plan PFI’s cover crop boot camp in December; the first youth session at a PFI annual conference; and the 2020 small grains conference.

Phoebe: So many things, it’s hard to articulate them all. Hannah and I worked together on a lot of different projects, especially event planning things like the Cooperators’ Meeting and Hannah’s awesome idea for a youth session at the annual conference. In addition to that, I helped the strategic initiatives team with a sustainable supply chain initiative where I mapped field boundaries.

I was also in charge of organizing all the technology for the annual conference, and most recently, wrote an autumn magazine article and helped shoot video on grazing partnerships targeting native prairies. My experience has been extremely varied month to month, and I love it.

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What has been your favorite part of working with PFI?

Hannah: My favorite part of working for PFI has to be the relationships I’ve made along the way. PFI staff have been so welcoming and really made me feel at home. I also loved being able to travel and meet members and all kinds of people across the state of Iowa. I’ve learned a lot during my 14 months of service and am very thankful that PFI put so much trust in me to help plan some of their larger events.

Phoebe: I love our staff and members; eating lunch together at the office; having get-togethers outside of work; and hearing about the amazing work people around the state do on their farms and for their communities. I am so appreciative that both Hannah and I could explore different paths, so to speak, while at PFI.

If we were interested in learning more about communications or membership, or whatever, our co-workers found ways to include us and teach us something valuable. PFI is a hidden gem on the national scale that I hope doesn’t stay too hidden for long.

What is your favorite PFI memory?

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Hannah: My favorite memory is when Nick’s dog Ginger would come and visit me and Phoebe in our office every morning. She’s the sweetest dog and we loved having her in the office.

Phoebe: There are so many great memories. Recently, I was out in northwest Iowa capturing video for a series we’re doing and the farmer we were working with asked if we wanted to ride four-wheelers out to the pastures. We drove up and down hills, got amazing views of the Little Sioux River and were able to get photos and drone videos of cattle grazing. It was amazing.

Other memories are a staff party at an arcade; going to a Cyclones basketball game together and getting a CyCone; seeing Ginger the dog in the office; attending conferences in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Iowa City; and one field day where a farmer let Hannah and I hop up in the tractor and the farm dog joined us!

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What’s next for you?

Hannah: After my service term ends, I will be working full-time at an animal hospital in the Chicago area.

Phoebe: I am at home in Kearney, Nebraska, for now, applying for jobs and spending time with my family. I’ve also been playing around with the idea of law school, so I’m studying for the LSAT, too. Wish me luck – who knows how that will go!

What is your favorite vegetable?

Hannah: My favorite vegetable is probably peas.

Phoebe: At the moment, broccoli. I love to steam it and add just a little bit of salt.

What is your favorite animal?

Hannah: It’s so hard to choose a favorite animal. My favorite farm animal is sheep, but otherwise I love dogs!

Phoebe: Hard to decide! A sloth or a quetzal, probably. Maybe a red panda or giraffe – there are too many to choose just one.