Jeff Hargrove, community resiliency specialist at Lincoln University, turned his love for the outdoors into a career.
He advises anyone with an interest in the environment to follow their passion.
"I have always been interested in the outdoors," Hargrove said. "I am a true believer that the Earth needs to be cared for, and I want to do my part while teaching others to have a deep level of respect and care for the Earth as I do."
For Hargrove, it all started at age 12, when he helped build a bridge in a conservation area for his Eagle Scout project. The project, along with the numerous camping and hiking trips his father took him on, helped to instill the value of respect and love for environmental preservation, he said.
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Since graduating from Lincoln University in 2012 with his master's degree, Hargrove has worked with the university in multiple facets, but he said all of his experiences have helped him to hone in on his love for agriculture, the environment and educating others.
As a master's candidate in the environmental science department, he worked as a supplemental instructor for plant physiology and botany classes and held the role of botany lab instructor.
Upon graduation, he began his career with the Lincoln University Extension, where he helped to implement the on-campus community garden and worked closely on the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institution of Food and Agriculture Grant, which helped the LU Farmers Market attain a commercial kitchen.
His most recent role as community resiliency specialist has allowed him to work under a federal grant from the National Science Foundation. His core objective is to teach youth and community members about food production, agriculture, and how components of food production can be affected by weather, soil and land management practices.
Thorpe Gordon Elementary has a new outdoor classroom complemented by two garden beds as a result of Hargrove's work with the NSA grant and a collaboration between Jefferson City Public Schools and the Missouri Foundation for Health, which provided additional grant monies for the project.
Now, he will be able to work with children and educate community members on how to become more resilient when it comes to food preservation and nature.
Hargrove credits LU with providing him the opportunity to pursue what he loves in life.
In his free time, Hargrove manages a 14-acre farm that produces a host of native edible plants such as gooseberries, peaches, asparagus and apples.
"Every day, from the time I get up to the time I go to bed, I'm outside doing what I can to take care of the land," Hargrove said.