Toward the beginning of 2023, I was asked if I would be interested in serving on the Board of Directors for the Association of Gleaning Organizations. Our previous Executive Director, Stephanie Wooten, had served as Vice Chair of the organization and had worked with AGO extensively for several years. I was immediately interested in serving, but had very little idea of what to expect.

A few short months after beginning my service on the board, I headed out for Milwaukee to attend AGO’s annual Gleaning Symposium, which, as it turns out, is its primary programming focus. I didn’t quite understand until I arrived in Wisconsin and experienced it for myself, what a fantastic and critical event this is for any organization that is engaging in food recovery and gleaning.

It’s an interesting brand of work that Glean Kentucky does, and, especially after going through the Covid 19 lockdown period, it became very easy to feel that we were on something of an island in our work. The AGO symposium was the antidote to that feeling. In 2023, there were over 70 attendees from more than 35 organizations hailing from communities across the United States, representing gleaning operations from here in Kentucky to as far away as Hawaii. The symposium only lasted for three days and I found myself wishing that it could have been four or five.

Not only did I come away from the symposium feeling that I was part of a cohort of gleaners that I did not fully know existed as such, but I also left with inspiration for new programming ideas, a renewed sense of purpose and excitement after spending time with so many amazing and passionate folks from all over the country who are doing work that is similar to Glean Kentucky’s.

It’s been a fantastic year serving on the AGO Board of Directors and the 2024 Symposium is coming up in just a few days. This time around, we’ll be convening in Seattle, and I have just been voted in as the incoming Chair of the Board of Directors as my new friend and colleague Miranda Smith steps down. I couldn’t be more honored and grateful for the opportunity to serve in a greater capacity for an organization that I have grown to love and appreciate so much. And I am beyond excited to attend this year’s symposium, which promises to be every bit as engaging as last year’s.

Be on the lookout for an account of the 2024 Symposium in our next newsletter!