Dr. Barbara Eiswerth moved to Tucson in 1992 to work as a research geologist specializing in GeoSpatial Information Technologies with the US Geological Survey. After ten years working extensively with technology transfer in Latin America, she pursued a career as an environmental scientist working at the Office of Arid Lands, Arizona Remote Sensing Center with projects in East and West Africa.
After receiving her Ph.D. from the University of Arizona, Eiswerth founded a community-based organization that empowers United Nations refugees from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East by creating opportunities to use their knowledge and skills from their countries of origin. The network, made up of refugees and volunteers, is called Iskashitaa Refugee Network, which means "working cooperatively together". The program has evolved from a few thousand pounds of fruit harvested to an all time largest annual harvest of over 100,000 pounds annually of fruit, nuts, and vegetables from backyards and local farms and orchards with a cumulative one million servings of local produce. In addition, Iskashitaa has integrated projects including producing and marketing refugee culinary goods and sustainable crafts. During Isakshitaa project activities, residents of Tucson are educated about the refugee community as well as the local food system and food waste.
A sampling of the recognitions Eiswerth has received include being a National Finalist in Community for Sustainable Food, the Baha’i “Vision in Action Award”, National Garden Crusader Award for Feeding the Hungry, the Church Women United's Human Rights Award, The Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona's Meyer and Libby Marmis Humanitarian Award, and Interfaith Community Services' Silver Spoon Award. Iskashitaa’s work was recognized by the White House through the Community Based Initiative for one of the winning videos in “Portraits of Compassion”. In 2011, Eiswerth, one of six recognized each year, was awarded the distinguished Hon Kachina Volunteer Award in the State of Arizona for community volunteer efforts that make a difference and for encouraging others to volunteer.
Born and raised in southern Arizona, Lisa VanWagenen is no stranger to the unique culture and beauty that’s alive in the Old Pueblo. She graduated in 2014 from the University of Arizona, earning a degree in Environmental Studies with a minor in Italian Language. Lisa got her first taste of Iskashitaa while working as an intern for UA’s branch of Linking Edible Arizona Forests, where she helped to plan and execute campus-wide edible plant harvests. Too, she developed a passion for waste management while working as an undergraduate compost technician for The UA Compost Cats. After graduation, Lisa spent time traveling, exploring and learning about new places and cultures in both Europe and the United States. While working as an Anti-hunger and Opportunity AmeriCorps VISTA member for Iskashitaa, Lisa looks forward to expanding her knowledge of different cultures, traditions and locally grown foods.
Chloe moved to Tucson from Boston to work with Iskashitaa. She graduated from Connecticut College in the Spring 2014 with a degree in Anthropology, focusing on issues of food, migration and nutrition. Chloe worked as the Harvesting Coordinator from August 2014-August 2015 through the New York City Coalition Against Hunger. She is currently working as the Resource Coordinator focusing on developing Iskashitaa's relationships with restaurants, cafes and local food businesses who are interested in supporting refugees and the local food system. She was fascinated to learn about the exchange of knowledge about food preparation when she first began working with Iskashitaa and is excited to take on a new role!
Jo Anderson - Harvest Support
Marcela Ball - Family Mentor
Marie Bampamulolwa - Cooking Demonstrator
Roy DeBise - Food Workshops
Joanne Finch - Harvest Support
Sarah Griffiths - Family Mentor
Faeza Hililian - Cooking Demonstrator
Eric Hubbell - Harvest Support
Ken and Barbara Newman - Food Redistribution
Jane Ruggill - Family Mentor
Dayla Sarkees - Speaker's Bureau
Paula Schlusberg - Crafting Support
Natanya Siegel - Farmer's Market Support
Carol Tierney - Family Mentor
Sue Troutman - Photographer
Cadie McCarthy - Harvest Support, Culinary Adviser
Gina Gresham - Public Relations and Social Media Assistance
Ty Trainer - U of A Campus Citrus Education and Harvesting, Linking Edible Arizona Forests