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Washington State University Extension

Lisa Vaughn

Meet Lisa Vaugh Project Liaison for the “Eat Local First” campaign on the Olympic Peninsula

Lisa Vaughn says she came to WSU through “a rather circuitous route.”  She currently works on the Eat Local First campaign serving as a project liaison between the statewide campaign and the Olympic Peninsula region.  She is also providing support for Eat Local First Olympic Peninsula’s “Eat Local Month” campaign. Her past experiences provide her with an ability to see the big picture and track all the many pieces needed for this role.

Lisa shares, “I was a software engineer. I worked in medical software for cancer treatment and after many years I wanted to try something new.” When she decided to take a break she explored a smattering of occupations including work at a bed and breakfast as well as a doggy day care, GPS/GIS work on a wetlands restoration project at Point Reyes National Seashore, and later went on to work as a seasonal park ranger at Olympic National Park with her partner. She then says, “That is where I met Sharah (WSU Gleaning Coordinator),” and that seemed to explain a lot.

Let’s go back a bit. Lisa shared, “I worked for Ohio State University in my early 20’s at the public broadcasting AM/FM and television stations. I shared my office with a person who was interested in environmental issues. I learned a tremendous amount from him.  He inspired me to care about local environmental issues as well as encouraged me to deliver hundreds of pine trees to school children for them to plant which sparked my passion for activism.” Additionally, while working in public broadcasting, she heard programming on oodles of interesting and inspiring topics which developed her awareness for the need to take action to make positive change on a local level and beyond.

Fast forward to knowing Sharah, who she worked with at Olympic National Park and volunteered with at Salt Creek Farm in Joyce.  Sharah connected Lisa with Karlena (WSU Community Health and Nutrition Coordinator), who needed someone to create and host programming for “Kids Days” at the Sequim Farmers Market. Lisa’s programming included education on the use of SNAP benefits, as well as healthy choices for kids and their families.  This work led her to yet another adventure.  She began doing cooking demonstrations and providing nutrition education at the local food banks. Lisa was delighted to show folks how easy it is to cook nutritious, local food. While those nutrition programs ended, knowing that Lisa had a background in software, Clea, WSU Clallam County Extension Director, who needed support with a local food and farm directory asked Lisa to assist with that project. This work eventually led to WSU partnering with the statewide Eat Local First collaborative (eatlocalfirst.org) which has created the WA Food & Farm Finder and works to facilitate connections between consumers and farm/food businesses across Washington.

What motivates Lisa is “Creating a community that I want to live in. I want to create something sustainable, where we know our neighbors, and where we are aware of the connections that exist. I see this as such a critical component of life for us all. I am passionate about people understanding what eating means–how eating is connected to not just their own health, but all the workers along the way and the health of the planet.” She is inspired by: the food access work that Sharah and Benji (WSU Food Recovery Specialist) are doing, distributing food that would have otherwise gone to waste; the farmers who have stuck with it and have a vision for what food means for our community; and the folks in the collaborative, both statewide and locally, who are doing the work to help people understand and grasp the connections of the food system that is around us.

Thank you for all your great work Lisa!

You can reach Lisa Vaughn at lisa.vaughn@wsu.edu