There are so many amazing parts of my job as the education coordinator at Cedar Circle Farm. Meeting really awesome people who inspire me could be the best part. It happens a lot, but some really stand out. Brigid Armbrust is one of those people. You may have met her at the Strawberry or Pumpkin Festivals at the farm last year. She runs an organization called Kids Care. She gives me hope and I want to share that with you.
I met Brigid at one of the GMO Education Forums I presented in early 2013. She attended with her mom, Kelly. Brigid was 10 years old. She was the only kid in the room. She asked me some very good questions and showed a genuine personal interest in an issue that many adults don’t understand. I was impressed. The following week Kelly contacted me for some educational materials that Brigid wanted to share with her friends. We’ve been working together ever since.
When we first met, the Armbrusts wanted to better understand how democracy and the Vermont legislature works. They also wanted to express their outrage that GMO foods are not labeled. We worked with a few other kids and parents to put together a short theatrical piece to perform in the State House cafeteria and made a date to go to Montpelier to take a tour and meet our legislators. (Watch our Blindfold Theater video).
Shortly after that, Brigid started Kids Care as a way to engage her peers in important issues and show them that their voice matters. Since then, Brigid and her family have become critical players in getting a GMO labeling law passed in Vermont. They have attended several citizen marches and rallies and many committee hearings and meetings regarding GMO labeling. They are now well-versed in the subject and in how the Vermont legislature operates. Brigid has even spoken at rallies. She and her sister have performed more political theater, and she has inspired many with her determination, confidence, and grace. She earned a place right by the Governor’s side at the public bill signing of H.112, Vermont’s GMO Labeling Law.
I asked Brigid to describe how and why she started Kids Care:
“When I was 10 years old I started Kids Care because I felt like kids couldn’t really do anything about GMOs (except go to protests organized by grown-ups).
I started to fantasize about a kids’s letter writing campaign. I imagined kids all over the country writing one letter every month to whoever needed to be lobbied at the moment. Each state would have a leader who sent out emails telling kids who to write to, and who kept the kids up with what was going on, and reported back to me. This, of course, was too big a dream to come true.
I told Cat Buxton, from Cedar Circle Farm, about my idea and she invited me to have a Kids Care table at Cedar Circle’s Strawberry Festival last June. I talked to a few of my friends about it and some of them joined. One of them even did a presentation for her class on GMOs and Kids Care and got a lot of people from her class to join.
I also spoke at the March Against Monsanto last October and had a table at Cedar Circle’s Pumpkin Festival the next day. I got about 36 people to sign up, mostly kids but some adults too.
Andrea Stander and Cat Buxton from the Right to Know Coalition helped me decide who we should write to each month. I found it very hard to get kids to write. Some wrote in the summer and then stopped because they were busy with school. Some wrote on and off. Some never wrote.
A few always wrote. Even though we were getting a maximum of 4 letters out every month, I still felt like Kids Care was helping. Even if the kids were not writing, they were still learning at a young age to care. And that’s what really matters.”
Brigid ended her speech to the crowd at the March Against Monsanto in October 2013 with this quote by Margaret Mead. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
May we never lose hope and may we always realize the power of the people.