By Tessa Henry

I was first introduced to Trellis for Tomorrow as a high school student in 2003.  At that time I was shy and knew little of how food can impact communities and our lives.  Fast forward to 2021 and I serve as a diplomat representing the U.S. government for the Department of State.  What does food have to do with diplomacy?  For me, everything.  My experience with Trellis ignited my interest and commitment to public service.

I was one of the first participants in Trellis’s youth programs.  Trellis taught me about food justice, sustainability, and compassion for one’s community.  I learned about the importance of a healthy lifestyle and saw firsthand the positive impact  a local food garden can have  in communities of need.  I enjoyed working alongside my neighbors and peers in supporting access to local fruits and vegetables.

Trellis provided the professional development that I needed at such a critical stage in my life.  Their youth programs nourished my leadership potential, empowered my interest in community service, and challenged my self-awareness.  I served on the Youth Advisory Board to share my perspective on how to strengthen their youth outreach. This experience gave me confidence and exposure to how the public sector can change lives.

I believe in Trellis for Tomorrow’s mission to foster compassion in youth and inspire them to build sustainable communities.  Still excited by Trellis’s impact, I became a Board member in 2014 so I could  continue to support their growth.  Trellis nurtured my commitment to public service and is a testament to where I find myself today.  My involvement also taught me the importance of empathy and leadership; skills I use every day in my role as a public servant.

I am one of many examples of the profound impact this organization has on its youth participants.  I am deeply grateful for the organization’s care and commitment that guided my journey from a once timid student into a confident, successful, and empowered leader.