2021 James M. Wordsworth Scholarship:    Debora Brown

Being an employee within Fairfax County’s Health Department has afforded me some amazingly rewarding opportunities to work with the public as well as the environment. One achievement that I am particularly proud of blended the worlds of “public” and the “environment” into what I would call a public health co-operative. I was chosen within the Women, Infants and Children agency, to partner with the Virginia Cooperative Extension program, to become a trained educator of food preparation and nutrition. The Virginia Cooperative Extension Program makes a difference in the lives of an underserved population, SNAP and WIC recipients, by teaching innovative ways for food preparation, effective resource utilization, physical activity and even teaching food sustainability and gardening. With the completion of my training I spear-headed the food demonstrations in the Mount Vernon area for the clients and their families receiving WIC benefits. I was able to turn nutrition education classes into fun, hands-on experiences that gave families the information necessary to make healthier nutrition choices. Since benefits can be limited, it was also important to educate this population on the significance of learning how to properly shop for food items, and to create meal plans or recipes that utilized all provided items. I developed imitation recipes from famous fast-food restaurants that could be re-created in healthy ways, that also utilized their food benefits.My communication also expanded to the office formerly located on the Fort Belvoir military base, where a group of clients participated in the WIC program and chose gardening as a means of feeding their families. I educated them on shopping at local farmers markets and even taking advantage of the Farmer’s Market truck that was available at the South County government building certain days of the week. I was so honored to be a part of such a great initiative and enjoyed the chance to educate the community on healthy food choices that could also have a positive impact on the environment as well!

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