Russell Branham, husband of Director of Development and Alumni Relations Darcy Force, has been hard at work planting Campion’s summer garden as the new Program Director of Acquainting Agriculture. Branham took over the care of the garden and produce sales as a volunteer last summer through this spring, including maintaining a winter garden. After Campion Academy procured a grant from AdventHealth this spring, he has been able to manage the garden as a part-time employee.
Branham has had previous experience working in greenhouses and gardens and has a personal passion for agriculture. “Long before I came to Campion, one of my personal goals has been to help teach people how to grow food for themselves,” he explained. “Agriculture seems to be a dying skill, and I think we need to get back to our roots. I’d like to see the young folks learn about growing and becoming self-sufficient.”
Without students or volunteers in the program this spring and summer (or the promise of a farmers market), Branham has kept the garden at a smaller, more manageable scale, and he plans to keep produce sales to our school and church community. Currently, he is growing crops such as bush beans, okra, brussel sprouts, beets, carrots, squash, radishes, turnips, asparagus, onions, tomatoes, potatoes, herbs, and raspberries. He expects to have produce available for sale in mid-August. With a future sweet harvest in mind, Branham has also started a small peach tree orchard from seed with 35 saplings growing strong.
In early July, through the use of grant funds, Branham was able to purchase a BCS 739 walk-behind commercial tractor as a much-needed piece of equipment to increase his efficiency. The tractor has multiple implements and he is currently using it for tilling the ground and creating new rows for planting. He is working to improve the garden area overall for future harvests. “Right now I’m focusing on the health of the garden. It was very overgrown with weeds and I’ve been able to get that under control. I’m working on squaring off the sections we are using for growing and tarping off the areas around to reduce the weeds.” Branham uses all natural methods of weed and pest control without the use of chemical pesticides.
In the fall, he plans to work with students to plant winter crops both in the greenhouse and in the ground using simple row covers. Campion is currently still seeking a classroom teacher for Acquainting Agriculture in order to offer it as a class, but Branham will work with students in the field.
The grant received from Advent Health will cover the basic costs of employing Branham and a teacher for the program for the next year. However, the program will still rely on donations as it continues to get established. If you have an interest in helping the agriculture program please consider donating for the following needs:
High Wind Tunnel Kit - $2,800
Implement - Rotary Plow $1,495 (to be used with the new tractor)
Used livestock tanks (items to be turned into large planters)
Large water containers (used is also fine, as long as no chemicals were used in it. Food Grade.)
campion.net/give | 970-451-1513
Campion Academy welcomes Nick Allen to the staff as Food Service Director. Allen has worked in food service for his entire career and has worked in the cafeterias of Andrews University, Mt. Vernon Academy, and Pines Springs Ranch camp in Southern California. “I’ve always loved being in the kitchen,” he says; “I grew up helping my mom and grandma and my first jobs in high school were in the kitchen. Over the years, I’ve seen that working in the kitchen is my passion, and I view it as my service to others, following the example of Christ of being a servant-leader.”
Allen grew up in Berrien Springs, Michigan where he attended Andrews Academy. Later, he earned a certificate in Vegetarian Culinary Arts at Atlantic Union College.
“When I saw the opportunity to be at Campion Academy,” he comments, “it reminded me of the good memories I made at Mt Vernon Academy. I enjoyed interacting with the students, especially with those who worked in the kitchen with me. I got to mentor them, and I missed that. This was an opportunity to be able to live, and work, and play with teenagers again, and I thought ‘I can’t pass this up.’”
Allen enjoys making a wide variety of dishes from around the world and experimenting in the kitchen. “I like learning what people like and what they don’t like and challenging myself to make new dishes based on that,” he says. “I also love doing pizza night, and I make my dough from scratch. One of my unique favorites is (vegetarian) barbecue-chicken and mac and cheese pizza. I also have experience with meeting needs of people who are vegan and gluten-free, and I’ve been experimenting with making my own vegan cheeses, and so far everyone has loved it.” He says he’s also looking forward to making authentic ethnic dishes and continuing Mrs. Fagan’s recent tradition of inviting our international students into the kitchen to help prepare foods from home.
In his free time, Allen and his family enjoy RC cars and trucks, hiking, and biking. They are looking forward to trying out backpacking and mountain biking in the Rocky Mountains. His wife Valerie has a passion for music and plays violin and viola. He and his wife, and their two children Orianna (10), and Tristan (7), will be moving to campus in mid July.
Jill Harlow, Communication Director
At Campion Academy, as we seek to become more Christ-like, we want to do more than just write statements against racism, we want to listen and learn how we can do better. In my interview with Rob Pride from our last issue, he recalled that racial issues were never something discussed at Campion when he attended and he challenged us to have those conversations. So this week, I sat down with two current students and an alumnus to talk about their experience being black and attending Campion Academy.
The following is a summary of our conversation. To listen in to the full conversation, click the link for the video below.
How has the killing of George Floyd and others we’ve seen recently, and the following protests impacted you personally?
Amira: “Mainly, it opened up my eyes that the world hasn’t changed and that it’s still so cruel and it’s just sad.”
CJ: “There’s a lot of tension. I feel like a lot of people have been tip-toeing around me, I don’t know how to explain it, it’s like they’re walking on eggshells or something because of everything that has happened.”
Emma: “I feel like it has definitely opened my eyes to how serious racism is in America, and it has me thinking about ways that we can make it better and really talk to each other and have these difficult conversations. I feel like before it was just kind of avoided and everyone knew about it, but we didn’t really talk about it. There’s a lot of tension because now we are bringing up an old issue to the surface, and it’s hard.”
Did you feel you experienced racism at Campion or at other points in your life?
CJ: “I think since I was in the Adventist system for so long, I never really thought about it until after I graduated and I came back home and was talking with my brothers about things. Some things that happened could have been seen as racism, but I think how they said it, I didn’t see it as racism. I never thought about it going through Campion. I’m pretty sure there were racist jokes, but no one didn’t like me because of the color of my skin and that was a cool thing about Campion and Adventist education in general.”
Amira: “I honestly haven’t. I’ve spent a lot of time in the Adventist school system and attended public middle school, but everyone was cool there too. Again, there are racist jokes, but I agree that no one has ever not liked me because of the color of my skin. There was a time in third grade a girl wouldn’t share with me because she said she “didn’t like black people.” That really just broke my heart to be denied something just because of something I can’t change and is not my fault. It really opened up my eyes. I haven’t experienced direct racism since then, but it really just blows my mind that you can even think that way.”
Emma: “Again, I didn’t really experience that much and I’ve been in Adventist schools since kindergarten, but people have said racist comments to other black kids at my school and it also affects me. I’ve even heard kids make racist jokes and it just shows you how much of a problem it is, how it affects everyone, and how we are teaching our kids. I haven’t experienced it a lot because I feel like I have had more privilege than other black kids that I know being raised in white family.
What can we do at Campion to be better at being anti-racist?
CJ: “I was talking to my friend the other day, and he grew up in Florida, and until he left that area he didn’t realize that racism was a big thing because where he was from everyone was cool with everyone, but once he got out of that, he realized these things actually happen. So, that might be similar to students coming out of Campion. I think we just need to educate people to let them know that it is okay to have black friends and that they are not really different, other than the color of their skin.”
Amira: “Honestly, Campion does such a great job. Maybe it’s because I’m an international ambassador, but we are so accepting. I’ve never seen so many people come together and accept different cultures, different languages--it’s beautiful. I do believe that education is important to teach everyone that we are not different, we are all people, and to be sensitive that some jokes aren’t funny because it’s inappropriate. I feel like that is something that should be also said.”
Emma: “I think educating people that we are all the same is good, but we also need to educate that we are different and to embrace the beauty that we have in different cultures. The more you learn about another culture, the more you can learn about another person. I feel that would just make people more open to talk about stuff, and it would help us not feel like we are so different if we learned about each other’s cultures. And also accountability, like if someone makes a racist comment, rather than just pushing it off, or saying it’s not a big deal, really actually attack that issue and explain why it hurt us, or why it is inappropriate.”
What about in our churches?
Emma: “I definitely think that bringing the conversation on race into our churches is also important. The Bible does talk about race, and just because we are in church, doesn’t mean that it’s not important and it can’t be addressed. Someone might be feeling a certain way about a racial issue, but because we are not talking about it, it’s just staying inside and they might feel like they have to be someone different at church. I always feel like I have to be someone else at church, and it has to do with my skin and maybe with the way I was raised too.”
What do you wish would be the biggest change in society at large as a result of this movement?
Emma: “My main biggest hope is that we increase accountability. A lot of these killings were happening before George Floyd and the reason why they were able to do that because they got off the hook and no one dealt with it. I hope we start to deal with it more, and if it happens once, we deal with it right then and there.”
Amira: “As Emma said, I want more accountability. But I really want more social awareness. I want everyone to realize there is a problem. I want everyone to stand up for what is right and when they see a problem, to help and talk about it so we can deal with it. I feel like in the past, that was not the case at all. We weren’t talking about it. It was just being swept under the rug and this really has all of us coming together and shown us what we can do as a whole.
CJ: “Well, I want Jesus to come sooner! I want people to realize with these killings that people just want justice and they’ve been waiting for that for a while. And it hasn’t happened! I want people to understand that just because people of color want justice for these killings that doesn’t mean that we want anything bad to happen to people of other races. We are not trying to overtake the country, we just want justice. We want to be treated like everyone else. I think what would help is more education and maybe more training for officers. More training in how to de-escalate situations, because there have been other times when the situation was de-escalated and no one had to die and deadly force didn’t have to be used.
Jill Harlow, Communication Director
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