April Newsletter

Read about Ogallala Commons’ new website, partner building in South Dakota & Nebraska, the accomplishments of one of our Homecoming Cohort Learners, and a profile of OC’s NM Coordinator

OC Launches New Website

After 3 months of background work and preparation, OC unveiled our new website on April 1st: https://ogallalacommons.org/  You can see a glimpse of our new homepage in our Newsletter masthead!  Here are the top 10 Reasons to visit our new website:
1. Get a brief overview of what OC is:
2. Discover the background of why OC was started:
3. Read about OC’s Community Internship & Apprentice Program:
4. Find out who are the nine members of OC’s Board of Directors:
5. Read about OC’s Playa Classroom:
6. Get contact information and a mailing address:
7. See photos of OC Staff Contractors:
8. Make a financial contribution to OC:
9. Learn about Rebuilding Local Food Systems:
10. Find Archived Blogs:

In the Far North for Partner Visits


In early April, OC Board Member Paul Martin (Seguin, TX) and OC Director Darryl Birkenfeld set out on a trip from the Texas Panhandle to western South Dakota, the northern boundary of the Ogallala Aquifer.  Their first destination was Pine Ridge Reservation (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pine_Ridge_Indian_Reservation), where they met up with community partner Steve Hernandez, who works for the

Vice-President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. In the past two years, Steve has supervised 3 OC Community Interns in completing projects that included a week-long Youth Leadership Camp as well as community gardens and farmers markets at two towns. While on the reservation, the guys met with potential partners at Thunder Valley CDC (http://www.thundervalley.org/), Pine Ridge Chamber of Commerce (http://pineridgechamber.com/cc/), Oglala Lakota College (http://www.olc.edu/), and a youth nonprofit, Generations Indigenous Ways (https://www.facebook.com/GIWAYS/). The OC trio also made a 3-hour drive up to Eagle Butte, SD to visit with the outstanding Cheyenne River Youth Project (www.lakotayouth.org).  We hope that our outreach will lead to a Community Internship at CRYP in 2017.  On April 8th, Paul and Darryl drove over to Rosebud Sioux Reservation to meet with a new community partner: Rosebud Economic Development Corporation (http://sicangucorp.com/). We were inspired by the emerging food sovereignty projects and resilient activities going on in all the Native communities that we toured, and hope that OC’s outreach can help in the development of young leaders.
On the final day of our journey, the two OC leaders traveled to Arnold, Nebraska to renew our partnership with Arnold Economic Development (http://arnoldne.org/economic-development), and then over to the town of Broken Bow, where the Chamber of Commerce (http://www.brokenbow-ne.com/) will be collaborating with OC to create a Community Internship this summer.


Learning Cohort Project: Ali Loker


When I returned to my hometown (Madison, Wisconsin) this fall, I wanted to find a way to combine my passions for agriculture and food security. I had just completed two AmeriCorps terms in Nebraska, both focused on these two areas. I found that a group called Healthy Food for All (http://www.healthyfoodforalldanecounty.org/?p=4) had been doing food recovery work in the Madison area for just under one year. They received an overwhelmingly positive response to their efforts, and were looking to formalize their processes and further develop their organization. I joined the Farmer Outreach committee, which focuses on coordinating produce gleaning efforts (http://www.npr.org/2011/01/20/133059889/gleaning-a-harvest-for-the-needy-by-fighting-waste). We are working to develop an organized gleaning program, including communication with farmers, volunteers, and food pantries to distribute produce that would otherwise go to waste. We are well on our way to having a successful season.

This project has allowed me to apply what I’ve learned from the five core competencies of OC’s Homecoming Learning Cohort. My overall project will work to improve the health of food insecure individuals by providing them with healthy, fresh produce, while simultaneously reducing food waste and thereby contributing to the sustainability of our community. Working on the organizational structure has allowed me to improve my community leadership and financial planning skills, as well as working on my career development in the food security sector. We also plan to use social media and other digital platforms to recruit and communicate with volunteers. I truly believe that my participation in this pilot Homecoming Learning Cohort has greatly improved my contributions to Healthy Food for All’s work.

OC Staff Profile: Robert Martin


Robert grew up on the family farm in Curry County, New Mexico. He attended Texas Tech University and received a degree in petroleum engineering. After working for ARCO Oil and Gas, Robert returned to manage the family farm. When Robert and his father sold the farm in large part due to the decline of the Ogallala Aquifer, he attended earned a Master’s degree in biology. Robert worked as a wildlife biology technician on research projects in eastern New Mexico. He also held a position with The Nature Conservancy for a number of years, working from Santa Fe, NM, where he now resides.  Robert’s main work for Ogallala Commons is organizing 8-10 Playa and River Festivals in eastern New Mexico and Native communities, as well as intern supervision and outreach with community partners.

OC logo

Check out OC Facebook or Twitter for more news and photos
(4 posts each week!)

To access the room block by phone use “Ogallala Commons Room Block” at:  (806) 803-5514

To reserve online use this link to book your group rate for Ogallala Commons

If you need help with your reservation call (806) 803-5500 for assistance.