From Oklahoma to Norway to Houston, Texas, Elise Jones has called many places home. It wasn’t until she started attending Lutherhill Ministries Camp in La Grange, Texas that she found where she belonged, which propelled her in a new direction of life.
Elise worked all of her summers of undergrad at Lutherhill in various summer positions. Eventually, Elise earned a full-time position as Program Director. She was given the opportunity to work with elementary, middle and high-school aged kids. During her last summer at Lutherhill, Elise was able to partner with a camp in Guatemala where she worked on an agro-ecology site. In the mountains of Guatemala, she was able to farm the land, use native crops and teach sustainability to the village schools.
When she returned, Elise felt a calling to pursue this new passion, which brought her to Baylor. With her husband at Truett Seminary, the Garland School of Social Work was the perfect fit to continue this journey of her life.
Elise has interned through Waco ISD at Waco High School during her time here, as well as for World Hunger Relief. Here, Elise was able to continue learning about agro-ecology while engaging with the community around her. World Hunger Relief has an 11-month internship program where hands-on sustainable agriculture is learned. Not only that, but it is also a working farm, producing fresh produce. The farm partners with three family health centers in Waco. This partnership is called the Vegetable Prescription Program and allows fresh produce to be administered to those who lack access. Elise plans to live in Waco the next few years, immersing herself in the community and continuing her agro-ecological work.
In the mountains of Guatemala, she was able to farm the land, use native crops and teach sustainability to the village schools.
She participated in the community practice track and found her passion where ecological justice and social work intersect. Elise is honored to have received the MSW Outstanding Student Award and is thankful to Crystal Diaz-Espinosa for nominating her. “Throughout my two years here, she has always found ways to make me push myself and build a skillset as a social worker.”
Crystal isn’t the only one who has impacted Elise through her journey at the School of Social. Professor Jennifer Dickey confirmed Elise’s calling in social work and introduced her to community practice. Professor Gaynor Yancey, who was Elise’s last community practice teacher, was always there to guide her and talk her through each step of the process. These women have allowed Elise to flourish and put to action a passion she found a few years back in the Lutherhill Camp and in the hills of Guatemala.
Increasing access to the best produce available is one of Elise’s main goals. Along with a group of community members, she maps out healthy food resources in the area and they devise a plan to best make the food accessible to all. Upon completing her Master of Social Work, Elise ultimately sees herself in an administrative leadership position at a nonprofit, continuing to serve the Waco community.