Moonlighting as a Civil Servant

Posted on May 14, 2015

Sarah Henricks is a student in the University of North Carolina MPA program and a new Public Affairs Assistant for ELGL. We’ve asked Sarah to introduce herself to the ELGL audience.

Moonlighting As a Civil Servant

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Can you have a mid-life crisis in your late-early-30’s? If not, I am in trouble. My name is Sarah Henricks, a new ELGL public affairs assistant, and I’m having a mid-life crisis in my career.
download (1)I’ve been looking through microscopes and acting as a cell-whisperer for the past decade, trying to get the best ROI for my bachelor’s degrees in animal science and biological sciences from North Carolina State University. While I enjoy working with teeny, tiny, microscopic cells, creating cell systems for research that will lead to medical breakthroughs, I long for a career that allows me to work directly for people. Unsure of how to break into a new career, I opted for the graduate school route. I enrolled in the MPA@UNC program, which allows me to work full-time in science while moonlighting as a novice civil servant.
While my degree is preparing me for a job in any field, I am particularly interested in food availability and access, and how community food systems can accelerate economic development. I have a strong desire to serve my community by bringing healthy, sustainable, and economical solutions to food system challenges in the area. I know how powerful a good meal can be; it not only nourishes the body, but sharing a meal builds relationships across innumerous boundaries.
giphy (1)I currently serve on the Capital Area Food Network in Wake County, NC and am eager to watch this newly formed council develop into a countywide force for sustainable and just food policy. Working on this council is providing me the opportunity to collaborate with leaders across public and private sectors that have a stake in food systems; it is fostering these relationships that provides the most enjoyment for me, knowing that the bonds forged in these collaborative groups will strengthen the power of the individuals involved. Working with so many engaged citizens and groups with different skill sets but shared goals is one of the best ways to guarantee success. Collective Impact, huzzah!
I also volunteer as a Food Ambassador with Farmer Foodshare. The Food Ambassador program addresses knowledge gaps preventing people from enjoying and consuming certain foods. By providing cooking demonstrations, food preparation assistance, and educational materials, the Food Ambassador program is able to introduce new foods to people who need it, reducing waste, and improving fresh food access. The program not only teaches people to become more self-sufficient but they can pass these skills on to their families and friends, creating sustainable skills.
imagesAs I delve deeper into the world of public administration, I learn more and more about the importance of local government. Whether working directly in local government, for the state or federal government, in nonprofit, or the private sector, interaction with local government officials is key to making a difference. Working as a public affairs assistant with ELGL will increase my exposure to those awesome weirdos in municipal buildings, improve my knowledge of real-life local government issues and trends, and improve my social media and campaigning skills. I’m excited to be a part of the ELGL team, and look forward to connecting with our members! I’m especially eager to work on the Supper Club and #13percent campaigns. Forging bonds through food, drink, and conversation? Umm, yes, please.

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