Regeneration Corps

A conversation with Mindy Blank, Executive Director, Community Resilience Organizations

This actually gives me a lot of hope for the future because agriculture is something that can realistically be regenerative—obviously, it will take a lot of work for regenerative agriculture to become a common practice, but it can be done.

Regeneration Corps participant from Sharon Academy

Tell us about Regeneration Corps. What’s the big picture?

Regeneration Corps is a learning collaboration between high school-aged students in Vermont and leading organizations in resilience and agriculture. This partnership is supporting the academic needs of students while priming them for engagement with transitions through acute challenges of our time. The existing Flexible Pathways personalized learning option and Proficiency-Based Learning (PBL) evaluation system anchor this opportunity for young people in Vermont to work for community resilience.  

What need and/or idea sparked the creation of Regeneration Corps?

The idea of Regeneration Corps was hatched in fall 2019. At the time, many of the organizations and groups that are behind Regeneration Corps were part of a Just Transition Working Group. We zeroed in on the critical intersection between the climate crisis, racial justice, regenerative agriculture, and youth empowerment. Regeneration Corps was born as a response to that intersection and continues to grow. We operate as a collective with a core team of folks designing the program, plugging in networks, and working closely with the RC project manager. 

The following eight organizations are founding partners: Community Resilience Organizations, Farm to Plate Network, Rural Vermont, Grow More, Waste Less, Vermont Healthy Soils Coalition, Center for Grassroots Organizing, Change the World Kids!, and Building A Local Economy (BALE). Other partnerships include those with schools, teachers, land, and farmers.

Describe a day in the life of a Regeneration Corps participant.

To help get students acclimated to some of the material we cover before we convene for the first time, we direct them to several readings from different vantage points on the Just Transition. On our work days together, students and Just Transition educators show up at the project site, which could be a farm, an orchard, a project on a school campus, or some other project scenario. Farmers or other project site leaders share information about the projects of the day, relevant land history, and link the soil health principles with the day’s work. Just Transition educators guide and integrate conversations and activities throughout the work day, and include many of these themes: Just Transition, regenerative agriculture, racial justice, climate mitigation and adaptation, community organizing and service-based projects, youth engagement and leadership, and food and land sovereignty. After work days at project sites, students design and complete work that brings these themes into their communities in tangible ways. The Regeneration Corps collective acts as mentors for students as they learn skills of community organizing and integrating these themes into their lives. Depending on the number of work days we have planned with students, Just Transition educators pace the curriculum in adaptable ways. 

What outcomes have you seen from the program?

Several students from Sharon Academy participated in work days at Cedar Circle in Thetford. This is what that had to say about their experience:

  • “I definitely found this to be a valuable experience. No class I’ve ever taken in school has covered (or even mentioned) any of the things we talked about during Regeneration Corps. Now that I have a basic knowledge of these concepts, it will be easier for me to seek out more information.”
  • “I would love to participate in future RC workshops. All of the topics that we covered were interesting to me—it might be helpful if there were different workshops that went more in-depth into just one subject, such as racial justice in the context of climate change or regenerative agriculture’s role in climate change or in racial justice, with more background-level information on the other subjects.”
  • “I think this was a very valuable experience for me. I don’t think I appreciated farms as much as I do now.”
  • “I would most definitely recommend the Regeneration Corps to other students and my friends.”
  • “I learned a lot of new things. I hadn’t previously been aware that climate change was so closely connected to land and food/agricultural systems, and I think the most important thing I learned was that agriculture is responsible for a significant portion of the greenhouse gases that are contributing to climate change (before, I’d thought that cars, heating and other fossil fuel emissions were the biggest problem). This actually gives me a lot of hope for the future because agriculture is something that can realistically be regenerative—obviously, it will take a lot of work for regenerative agriculture to become a common practice, but it can be done.”

What’s the future of the program look like?

Regeneration Corps is in a big growth phase. We’re simultaneously planning collaborations between schools, farms, and other organizations to run RC this spring, while designing the longer term reach of this program. We focused in the Upper Valley region in the fall 2020, but we’re expanding to central Vermont and other regions as we continue forward. The goal is to be able to offer RC to every student in the state and to work with regional coordinators and regional Just Transition educators to streamline ongoing collaborations. 

How can people get involved with Regeneration Corps?

The Regenerative Corps collective is looking for other folks to join our core organizing team. We’re also looking for connections with project sites near schools to reduce the barrier of transportation during Covid times. We are gearing up to hire another coordinator this spring, support project sites with materials, and give stipends to farmers – so we are fundraising! Please reach out to us at if you’d like to get involved and visit our website to make a donation.

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