PRO FOCUS: Amanda Bogner

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Unique stories from business owners on gifting their business acumen..

Amanda Bogner, Omaha business owner, speaks to why she is passionate about The Big Garden and how she initially identified a way to help by drawing from her experience within her own business.

Who or what first attracted you to The Big Garden?
I was connected to The Big Garden through a Leadership Omaha (LO) classmate, Teresa Mardesen. Through our time together in LO, she knew that I was interested in helping find solutions to the food security problem we have in Omaha, especially North Omaha. When I met with the Big Garden's Executive Director, Nathan Morgan, we talked through the top three challenges that The Big Garden will face over the next 5-10 years.
One challenge, in particular, drew me to serve on the Big Garden's board of directors. The Big Garden receives the majority of their funding through the United Methodist Church. However, Nathan knows that is not a sustainable source of funding and wants to work to diversify The Big Garden's support base.
This challenge sounded very similar to a challenge that we experienced in my own organization, Energy Studio. In 2015, 40% of Energy Studio's revenue was from one client doing work that wasn't professionally fulfilling. After going through a SWOT analysis, we identified this as a top-priority potential threat that needed to be addressed.
We developed and implemented an exit strategy from 2016-2018 to help us eliminate this revenue and build up a client base and workload that is in alignment with our core competencies and values. I think my experience leading Energy Studio through this transition can benefit The Big Garden as they continue to grow and work to diversify their support base.

What do you wish other people knew about The Big Garden?
The Big Garden is doing amazing work. They are on a mission to grow healthy food, healthy kids, and healthy communities. They do this by building community gardens; teaching children to grow, cook, and preserve their own food; and providing education to address the systemic nature of hunger in our communities. They have a variety of programming available for children and adults and have already reached 700 children with their summer programming this year. 

What inspires you the most about The Big Garden?
The Big Garden's impact on the local community is inspiring. The Big Garden's Grow-Your-Own summer program has seen an explosion in participation. In 2014, this program had a goal of reaching 150 low-income children. In 2016, they reached 650 children with this program; last year they reached 900 children! Each of those kids learned about soil health, planting techniques, pollinators, permaculture, food systems, local foods, harvesting, and cooking. 

How can others get involved and who can participate?
Everyone can get involved!  We especially need hands-on help through the growing season. We have many different types of volunteer work available at our campus - from planting and weeding to scrubbing pots, mulching, tagging plants, cleaning the chicken coop, and even washing dishes!
Please contact kwilwerding@biggarden.org to make arrangements. And, of course, we always need financial support too. If you're interested in learning more about The Big Garden, visit us on the web at https://biggarden.org.

Brady Marlow