The Kemper Students Who Planted the White House Garden: Where Are They Now?

In the Spring of 2016, five students participating in the Montezuma School to Farm Project from Kemper Elementary School in Cortez, Colorado joined first lady Michelle Obama to help plant the White House garden. Miles Frost, Gael Garcia, Christian Rebaza, Cecelia Thom, and Trenity Tillahash had a chance to explore the capital city, plant various vegetables on the South Lawn of the White House, and eat delicious meals served from the White House kitchen. These students had not one, but two opportunities to visit Washington D.C. and share the art of gardening and cooking with the some of the nation's most respected leaders. 

After the trip in April, MSTFP returned to D.C. with the students  in June of 2016 to harvest the fruits of their labor. This time, celebrity chefs Rachael Ray and Frankie Celenza were there to help harvest and cook fresh food. Kemper students had the joy of sitting with Michelle Obama for their meal, where the kids talked about the plants they were growing in the school gardens and even shared how to say different words in Navajo. 

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Christian Rebaza remembers “I was really excited for the second trip. I was excited to eat more food and see Michelle again. I liked Rachel Ray, too.  She was really cool, and we made a nice salad. She inspired me to cook more.”

MSTFP caught up with four of the five students, now at Montezuma-Cortez Middle School to see how the trip may have impacted their lives. All four students recounted their favorite parts of their journey and the lasting impression of the trip.

Rebaza shares how when he goes to Walmart now and sees all the seeds, he’s reminded how “he wants to stay more involved in gardening or agriculture.” He talks about cooking with his Mom, saying “I like being in touch with my food. We make a lot of our food from scratch, so I get to chop vegetables.”  Through practice at home and at his internship, Rebaza believes “it would be cool to make food for other people as a living. I would love to be a chef in New York.”

Each of these students’ paths are different, and their memories of MSTFP and the D.C. trip are unique. Check out the video to see and hear from three other Kemper students as we explore “where are they now?”