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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.
Stephanie Plotas is from Battle Creek, Michigan. In May 2013, she graduated from Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies in Arts and Humanities. Within her major, Stephanie focused on the areas of language and religion. For the next two years she will work with Iskashitaa as a US-2 missionary of the United Methodist Church. The US-2 program is a two year faith- based social justice program for young adults. At Iskashitaa, she will be working as Food Justice Coordinator as well as liaison between Iskashitaa and faith-based organizations in the Tucson area. Stephanie is excited to experience the Southwest United States and to learn about the cultures and backgrounds of the many people she will meet.
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. She is currently working with Iskashitaa as an AmeriCorps VISTA member and the harvest coordinator. Chloe was fascinated to learn about all the edible plants in Tucson when she first arrived and is particularly excited about the exchange of knowledge about food preparation, preservation and cross-cultural cooking at Iskashitaa.
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