Swalley selected for leadership institute

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Lizzie Swalley, community foods specialist, lizs@cfra.org, 605.857.1063; or Rhea Landholm, brand marketing and communications manager, rheal@cfra.org, 402.687.2100 ext 1025

SANTEE, NEBRASKA – Lizzie Swalley, of Santee, and community foods specialist for the Center for Rural Affairs, is among 50 native leaders who have been selected to attend the Fertile Ground Leadership Institute.

Hosted by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and the American Heart Association, the training is for Native Americans who work toward health and dietary well-being in their communities and are searching for new ways to strengthen their effectiveness through traditional knowledge.

“In the words of my late father, Charles La Plante, ‘Do something for your Oyate, no matter how small of a task it is,’” Swalley said. “I believe there is a responsibility to help strengthen our Oyate (tribe), and it’s important to deepen the awareness toward health and dietary well-being, not just within the Isanti Dakota Nation, but among all native communities.”

Swalley will join 25 leaders in Minneapolis/Saint Paul, Minnesota, from June 11 to 13, for the first of two sessions. The focus will be on skills development for community engagement rooted in traditional Indigenous knowledge; and the training will provide tools for engaging native communities.

“By taking an initiative and finding the root causes of inadequate health and wellness in our community; by seeking understanding and practices from our ancestors; and by building on traditional knowledge from our leaders, elders within our community, there is a very high possibility for a successful outcome to improve overall healthy lifestyles,” Swalley said.

“This is an outstanding opportunity to learn and grow in this native food movement we are part of,” said Kathie Starkweather, farm and community program director for the Center. “I am so proud that Lizzie will be representing her community and the Center for Rural Affairs through this important opportunity.”

Swalley leads work on the Santee Community Foods Project, created by the Center for Rural Affairs and Nebraska Indian Community College. The project encourages growing fresh food and healthy eating through community workshops to train and assist gardeners; home garden visits to offer support and advice; the Santee Farmers Market, held every Saturday during the growing season; and the distribution of fresh food baskets.

To learn more about the Santee Community Foods Project, visit cfra.org/santee.