RDLN s pleased to partner with the Anti-Hunger and Opportunity Corps (AHOC) of the New York Coalition Against Hunger (NYCCAH) to sponsor VISTA workers in four sites where RDLN Leaders are especially concerned with food, farmers, hunger and health. Many RDLN Leaders work with farmers, farmworkers, children and the physical and mental well-being of community members. This VISTA work complements RDLN's Mississippi Food & Health Fellowship, through which RDLN Leaders in Mississippi work to make fresh fruit and vegetables more available in their communities, help local farmers sell at farmers markets and to schools and other outlets, and encourage community people to eat well and exercise as ways to prevent diabetes, obesity, and related diseases, which are especially prevalent among low-income communities, and people of color.

The RDLN sites for 2014-2015 are the following:

Collaborative Visions - Mora, NM
Supervisor: RDLN Leader & Board member Anita LaRan/Roger Gonzales
VISTA member: Melissa Cordova

Melissa Cordova

BIO: Melissa Cordova earned an AAS in Business Administration in May 2013, and a certificate in Small Business Management in May of 2014 both from Luna Community College in Las Vegas, New Mexico. Before becoming an Americorps Vista, she worked as an administrative assistant for the Mora site of Luna Community College, for three years. During her time at LCC, she assisted many students with their education by guiding them into their classes, and also as a tutor.

Rural Development Leadership Network - Holly Springs, NC
Supervisor: Starry Krueger
VISTA member: Shirley McClain, RDLN Leader & Former staff

Shirley McClain

BIO: Shirley Williams McClain] is former executive director of the North Carolina Hunger Network, a diverse statewide membership organization whose mission was to reduce hunger and malnutrition and eliminate the root causes of hunger and poverty. She is former Issues Coordinator for RDLN. Having grown up in a sharecropping family in tobacco country, she has retained a commitment to working against hunger and poverty.

Mississippians Engaged in a Greener Agriculture (MEGA) - Shelby, MS
Supervisor: RDLN Leader/Mississippi Food & Health Fellow Dorothy Grady-Scarbrough
VISTA member: Taurean Morton

Taurean Morton

BIO: Taurean Morton is a 31 year-old Mississippi native who loves his family, community, and culture. He was a standout Division I track athlete at Mississippi Valley State University from 2001-2004. He was also a Scholar athlete who was added to the university's Honor's College. He later obtained a degree in theological studies from Heritage Christian University. He has also completed graduate hours at Delta State University. Taurean has always possessed an affinity for servitude and community empowerment; however his interest in food disparities and proper consumption intensified as a classroom teacher in both the Cleveland and North Bolivar School District's witnessing students struggle with issues beyond their control; hunger. Students were unable to perform at their optimal level because of a lack of proper nutrition. He heeded the call to become an anti-hunger advocate to educate, empower, and help eradicate the woes of food shortage and hunger within the community. He is a pastor at the Lincoln Gardens Church of Christ in Cleveland, Mississippi.

Southwest Georgia Project for Community Education - Albany, GA
Supervisor: RDLN Graduate & Board member Shirley Sherrod/Amber Bell
VISTA member: Erma Wilburn

Emma Willburn

BIO: I was born in rural Ben Hill County, in Fitzgerald, Georgia, one of 12 children. Most of our food came from the land; vegetables, chickens, rabbits, squirrels and fish made up most of our diet.

My father was a man of faith whose family formed a quartet and sang all over Florida and Georgia. In nineteen sixty two, my aunt came home from college and enlisted us in the Civil Rights movement. From that point on I have been working for social, political and social justice.

With my husband Sam Young, for eleven years I lived and worked at New Communities. We were a part of a vision of a people who could be self sustaining, growing much of own food, farming for the markets, and benefitting mutually from our hard work. During this time I attended college and became a registered nurse and joined a committee that brought in the first Rural Primary Health care center in the Southwest Georgia area.

The struggle to keep the New Communities property was ongoing. Racism and the common practice of discrimination by local and state Farmers Home Administration and the U.S Department of Agriculture eventually resulted in the loss of that 6000 acre farm.

My life's work has well prepared me to do the work that I have been assigned to as a VISTA volunteer.