In her three years at Oberlin, Rachel Manning has led the charge for healthful eating and food access, both locally and in Appalachia.
Her largest achievement, the Mountain Garden Initiative, is a school-based garden that she cofounded with Hilary Neff ’13 in Harlan County, Kentucky. The initiative addresses food access issues in Appalachia and integrates lessons about the garden and environmental conservation into Cumberland Elementary School's science curriculum. Manning has also led community service trips during academic breaks, organized a variety of local gardening work, and initiated and taught healthful cooking classes at Langston Middle School in Oberlin.
The Udall Foundation has recognized Manning’s commitment by naming her one of 50 2013 Udall Scholars. The Foundation awards the scholarships on the basis of commitment to careers in the environment, health care, or tribal public policy; leadership potential; and academic achievement. This highly qualified class of Udall Scholars was selected from 488 candidates nominated by 230 colleges and universities. Each scholarship provides up to $5,000 for the scholar’s junior or senior year. The 2013 Udall Scholars will assemble August 7 to 11, 2013, in Tucson, to receive their awards and meet policymakers and community leaders in environmental fields, tribal health care, and governance. “I was extremely surprised when I found out that I received the Udall Scholarship,” she says. “The application really helped me think about my interests and options for my life after Oberlin. I’m looking forward to the conference in Tucson and meeting the other Udall scholars.”
Manning, a junior who is majoring in sociology and East Asian studies with a Chinese language concentration, was a 2012 recipient of the Dalai Lama fellowship. This summer, she will further develop the Mountain Garden Initiative by connecting the garden in Kentucky with one or two others in Tanzania and Kenya established by the organization Mama Hope, which funds schools, health clinics, clean water systems, and food security projects throughout Africa. Manning was introduced to Mama Hope through her Dalai Lama fellowship mentor.
After Oberlin, Manning says she plans to work in sustainable agriculture, school gardens and childhood nutrition, or food policy.
Junior Margaret Heraty received honorable mention from the Udall Foundation.
Amanda Nagy is assistant director of media relations in the communications office.
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