CSU, Chico’s Community Action Volunteers in Education
chico state, cave, tutoring, students, chico, volunteers, victoria, verbena, community, program, semester, pandemic, campus, triple jump, volunteer, people, plants, today, work, guests
Victoria Ramirez, He-Lo Ramirez, joshuah whittinghill, Teresa Hernandez, Cathryn Carkhuff, Introduction Music
He-Lo Ramirez 00:00
Heytanayem nikki yam sa He-Lo nikki Mechoopda Maidu. Hello everyone. My name is He-Lo and I’m a Mechoopda Maidu. We acknowledge and are mindful that Chico State stands on lands that were originally occupied by the first people in this area, the Mechoopda. And we recognize their distinctive spiritual relationship with this land and the waters that run through campus. We are humbled that our campus resides upon sacred lands that have sustained the Mechoopda people for centuries, and continue to do so today.
Introduction Music 01:02
Teresa Hernandez 01:12
Everyone, welcome back to our podcast first generation one as many excited for our listeners to tune in today because we have a bunch of resources as always, for minisodes for you all particularly excited for today, because it’s also going to be my experience my first, my first time also being able to learn a little bit more about our guests, I’m not going to give it away yet, so you still have to tune in. And so we get to learn together. Again, we are first generation one of many, our mission is to create an archive of discussions with and about first generation student experiences in and out of the classroom. We hope to continue raising awareness and understanding provide a voice for students and alum as well as present resources for faculty, staff, and students working for and collaborating with first generation students. So as always, I am not alone, I am joined with my co-host, joshuah whittinghill. Hello, Josh.
joshuah whittinghill 02:03
Hi, Teresa. You saw me laughing there when you said we were going to give it away that was laughing thinking even before the pandemic. And now in the pandemic, our guests are literally living in a cave. So it made me laugh on the inside.
Teresa Hernandez 02:16
joshuah whittinghill 02:17
They could say that, about that their living situation. And we’ll get to that in a minute. But like always, we’re gonna start off with a few quotes. And again, some were provided by our guests today. The first one is the motto that this program uses. And so I said CAVE, sort of as a joke there, but it is. That’s the acronym for this. Campus resource and program is CAVE. It’s Community Action Volunteers and Education. And so one of the mottos they use with a lot of their programs and students is life is for learning. Right? And that really four words kind of sums up what what life is about, because we can see people are talking about I’m a lifelong learner. And some people cringe and they say what does that mean even but, but life is for learning. We’re always learning things, whether we’re aware of it or not, but our brain is processing those things and learning something. Okay. The next quote they provided is one that one of our guests like from Muhammad Ali says, the service you do for others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth. I love that one. It touches on a on a discussion, we had a shared a quote, a while back about oboon foo, the South African belief that we’re all human. We’re all in this together. We’re not just individuals, right that we are experiencing these things as a collective. And then the quote we found for this is from DeAnn Hollis, the founder of Abby and Oli, which is a organization that creates organic baby apparel. And so that quote is the heart of a volunteer is never measured in size, but by the depth of the commitment to make a difference in the lives of others. And that really, when I found it really sums up what everyone that works in CAVE does from all of my years of working with CAVE in different capacities. And so it’s been a wonderful experience for me, and I know for CAVE over the years, and we’re going to learn a lot more about CAVE, how long it’s been around, what are some of the things they do, but to help us do that, of course, we need to have guests and we have two wonderful guests joining us today. First we have Victoria Ramirez, Victoria is a first generation student and is in her third and final year at Chico State. She’s majoring in criminal justice with a minor in ethics, justice and policy as well as pursuing a paralegal certificate. This academic year she was an Academic Coach for the Accessibility Resource Center. Currently, she’s a Resident Advisor, CLIC intern, and the Kids Program Director for Community Action Volunteer Education. Oh my gosh, the list is still going. She is also a part of the Women’s Chico State Track and Field Team. And she’s been involved with CAVE for almost three years, and is extremely luckily lucky to be a part of the organization. Welcome, Victoria.
Victoria Ramirez 05:21
joshuah whittinghill 05:22
Oh my gosh. And so in your free time, what do you do?
Victoria Ramirez 05:25
I like to go play tennis. But other than that, I just like to watch some TV and good old Netflix.
Teresa Hernandez 05:32
I like how there’s still free time in their.
Victoria Ramirez 05:35
I’ll find a way to squeeze it in somehow.
joshuah whittinghill 05:37
Yeah. Oh, gosh. So I think it’s great to see all these things that students are doing so multifaceted. But I’m even more intrigued with the athletic part right now. What What do you do? What are what are your events on the track and field team?
Victoria Ramirez 05:52
I am a long and triple jumper.
joshuah whittinghill 05:55
Oh, long and triple jumper? Oh, that’s awesome. The triple jump is like art in motion to watch someone do that. Because I know I tried it. Even when I was athletic and actually doing sports and growing up, I would try the triple jump. I pretty sure I busted something or pull the muffler. And I never think I landed on my feet ever. That’s like that takes a lot of practice, right?
Victoria Ramirez 06:21
Yeah, it was something that my dad kind of made me do. And then after I started doing the event, I just fell in love with that. And it looks kind of hard. But once you got it, you got it.
joshuah whittinghill 06:33
And if you haven’t seen it, go pull it up on YouTube, just search triple jump. I mean, but it’s really a beautiful thing to see someone be able to do the three different jumps involved and actually land and get as far as people get with that. What is your longest jump?
Victoria Ramirez 06:50
Um, I believe for triple jump, it’s 36 eight. So 36 feet, eight inches, eight and a half inches.
joshuah whittinghill 07:02
And I’m guessing that’s good.
Victoria Ramirez 07:06
I don’t want to confirm that. It is relative.
joshuah whittinghill 07:11
It sounds good. Right to be able to jump 36 feet and in that. Okay. That’s amazing. So, welcome to the show. Again, glad you could join us.
Victoria Ramirez 07:21
Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Teresa Hernandez 07:23
Cool. Super excited to get to know more about you as well. All right, nice. Joining us. It’s my pleasure to introduce our next guest. We have Cathryn Carkhuff, Cathryn join CAVE as a Program Coordinator in January 2018. With a decade of experience working with youth and their families and community based organizations in Philadelphia, and San Francisco. She loves to support students in finding their inner leader and engaging in the Chico community. Welcome. So I read the San Francisco part just right now. I’m like, um, yay. Because I spent 10 years there. So I’m super excited to get to know more about you and your experience and as well as what both of you were able to do here at Chico State. So welcome to the both of you. Thanks for being here.
Cathryn Carkhuff 08:03
Of course. Thank you. And I just want to also call out that as you noticed, josh, we affectionately call Victoria Superwoman in CAVE because her long list of what she does every day, every semester. She’s graduating like early, she’s doing it in less than four years, I think in three years. So yeah, you can also just introduce her as Superwoman because that’s what we call her in CAVE.
Teresa Hernandez 08:30
That’s amazing. No, yeah, definitely. So should be super proud of herself. And I’m sure you are. So if you’re not, you should
joshuah whittinghill 08:36
I was, I was wondering in my mind, did she did she come to Chico State right after high school and three years or did to transfer from somewhere in three years? So you made it clear she came from high school, and is finishing in three years or three and a half? Is that right? Or Three?
Victoria Ramirez 08:49
joshuah whittinghill 08:50
Yeah, yeah. Okay.
Teresa Hernandez 08:53
That’s amazing. Awesome. All right. So let’s go ahead. And so as well, like I mentioned before, I’m also going to be learning about CAVE today, along with our listeners for the first time, at least more in depth. So I’m super excited. Um but to start off, can both of you share what your role is and how long you’ve been working on campus for in that role? So if we want to go ahead and start with Victoria, and then Cathryn.
Victoria Ramirez 09:17
All right, currently I’m the Kids Program Director for CAVE and this is a role that I kind of just started, it was meant for me to start in September, August, but because of COVID, it kind of got pushed back. And so now I am that position, but I first started as a volunteer my first semester and then from there. I was a group leader and then I finally supervised program as a coordinator for the whole last year, so now I’m a director.
Teresa Hernandez 09:52
Awesome. Thank you for sharing that. Cathryn.
Cathryn Carkhuff 09:56
Um, yeah, so I’ve actually only lived in Chico about Five years. So I came from San Francisco, I was working for a youth leadership organization there, I first got a little stint at the Research Foundation, and then applied for CAVE. And I think all of my jobs that I’ve gotten I’ve, I’ve been very doubtful, but I was going to get it. But I interviewed with all the students I learned about the program in the interview. So I have no volunteer experience with CAVE. But yeah, I just really was like, there’s a lot this is, I didn’t even realize this program existed on this campus. And it’s so cool. And if I got this job, it would be great. And I did, and I’ve been there ever since. So I’m the Program Coordinator there. And basically, what that means is, I get to work with all of the students and programs. And I also get to work with all of our community partners. And in non COVID times, we have about 35 community partners, and you know, spread all over the school districts and nonprofit organizations. And so it’s just this really amazing opportunity to be able to reach out to those folks and say, like, hey, how can our volunteers help you to meet with them every semester to see students go from volunteers to staff at these places, and really just kind of think about innovative solutions to long standing community issues. So yeah, I love my job. Really glad. And like I said, I’ve been here for about four years.
Teresa Hernandez 11:28
That’s awesome. And if I may ask what organizations that you work with in the Bay Area,
Cathryn Carkhuff 11:34
Oh, I worked with Youth Leadership Institute. And so this is how dope San Francisco is. They not only I don’t know, if you’re familiar, they have like a whole, they have like city supervisors. But then they also have youth supervisors. So every district in San Francisco gets a youth supervisor, they have like a ton of money that goes to like Youth Leadership Development. And part of that is a youth philanthropy program. So they have this whole pot of money, where I worked with students who gave out grants to other young people to do social justice projects at their schools and communities. And we had some of the most amazing projects, it was great work. But I did have a kid and kind of got priced out of the bay. That’s what brought me to Chico.
Teresa Hernandez 12:19
I feel you there, I feel that.
joshuah whittinghill 12:23
I love what you shared. All of it sort of leads into the rest of our discussion for today. And I had a feeling when we when I when we invited you. And we were excited about having you come on. I was thinking in the back of my mind, from what I know about CAVE, we could have a whole two hours to try to share and explain what you do. Because as you mentioned, you’re already you’re partnered with over 30 different groups and organizations around town. So can you and you kind of touched on it to find innovative solutions. But can you expand a little bit on on what or maybe two or three or some of the specific things programs that you CAVE is connected with?
Cathryn Carkhuff 13:07
Yeah, Victoria, do you want to start out and talk about virtual tutoring a little bit?
Victoria Ramirez 13:12
Sure. So right now we have tutorial and in the past, this has been where students from the Chico area come to the Chico State campus. And we’ll have our volunteers tutor these kids one on one. And so now with COVID, we are transforming that I’m using tutor fly and online. So we have the kids come and we’ll pair up these other volunteers with them. And and that’s how our tutoring is working right now.
joshuah whittinghill 13:49
And you say kids, when you say tutoring? So are you talking about kids from kindergarten through 12th grade can come in and use the service? Or is there is there a set grade grouping or that can use it?
Victoria Ramirez 14:01
It’s K through 12.
joshuah whittinghill 14:03
Excellent. And then do you also then have tutors in a multiple different subject areas?
Victoria Ramirez 14:11
Yeah, so when volunteers come to us, they’ll kind of put their preference whether they want chemistry, or they can teach chemistry, or math, it just depends. And then our two D’s will come and say hey, I need help in math or English, whatever that might be. And so we make those pairings depending on who can do that.
Teresa Hernandez 14:32
Do you help students K through 12 within the Chico who go to school in Chico schools like this specific district or do you also assist support into her like from neighboring K through 12 schools?
Victoria Ramirez 14:45
Um, from my understanding, it’s all from Chico,
Teresa Hernandez 14:49
Oh from Chico. Okay.
joshuah whittinghill 14:51
Cathryn, have you as a program director in the areas there, the behind the scenes kind of planning more stuff. Have you looked at the virtual possibilities? of expanding to other communities, or is that just too much, too many people would be involved at that point.
Cathryn Carkhuff 15:06
I think if we started getting hundreds of volunteers and tutoring, we could do that, just to give you It’s a free tutoring service. And we have such good relationships with the schools that we have never not filled up within two days in person. And we sent out an application throughout the district last semester for virtual tutoring, and we filled up within three hours. And so I think for us, our application is still open plug, if you want to do virtual tutoring, please, I think it’s actually our only program that’s still open, go to the website and apply today. Because it really just depends on the amount of tutors, we already have tutors that kind of are willing to work in groups. And so we just try to serve as many folks as we can with the tutors that we have. But yeah, I would love to do that. But there’s such a need in our district already that before we expand out, I think we’d have to probably double or triple the number of our tutors.
Teresa Hernandez 16:05
Make sense. Awesome. And in terms of so we already spoke a little bit about you know, the K through 12 population who can utilize your services. Are there is there any other population that could also utilize the services from CAVE?
Cathryn Carkhuff 16:19
Yeah, I think probably one of our biggest growing programs is our program community outreach ambassadors, which Victoria actually has experienced in she came, she spent two semesters coordinating that program. And what that is program is really doing is working with homeless advocates and organizations that work with the unhoused. And we see that as our biggest growing area of interest in volunteers. And I think that directly correlates with the housing crisis that is throughout California. And she goes obviously, not unique to that I think students identify that home Homelessness is a really big issue in their community. And they want to learn ways, you know how to interact with folks who are unhoused, and how to learn more about that issue and be supportive to that community. And so we’re actually that’s probably the newest program, and it’s expanding every semester. So we currently work with the Torres Shelter, and we also work with the Esplanade house, we do after school tutoring there. And then next semester, we’re looking at building a partnership with CHAT who does really great work and is like proposing a tiny home village and you know, just different really great wraparound services in addition to housing solutions. And we’ve done a little bit of work with safe. Oh, I always get this confused because on campus, it’s safe space, and they are safe place. Or I might have gotten that reversed.
joshuah whittinghill 17:48
Yeah. Yeah on campus, we have the WellCat Safe Place.
Cathryn Carkhuff 17:52
So it’s safe space. Always get those confused. But yeah, we’ve done some like one time events with safe space too and they’re just great. They’re like the only low barrier shelter in Chico. And they have a lot of innovative housing housing solutions, too. So I think that’s probably our biggest growing program because it’s the biggest need in Chico. And then I think another project that I just want to highlight is our Adaptive Park programming. We just got grant funding from that SFCTA fund that students can apply to as well. And it’s our second year doing that to do work at Bidwell Park and verbena fields around native plants. And so this is, you know, directly addressing effects of climate change, native planting native plants and making sure that you’re controlling invasive species is a way that volunteers can both learn about sustainability and practice it and plant things that they can go by, you know, a year later and say like, Hey, I planted all those plants. And now we’re actually doing signage at verbena fields to be able to have folks come in and do tours and things like that. So yeah, a lot of exciting work.
Teresa Hernandez 19:08
joshuah whittinghill 19:08
Yeah. I was gonna see and I’m pretty sure that verbena field is over in the neighborhood kind of by the creek over by behind or off of East First Avenue sort of right passed out by one of our high schools here in town because I go walk by there and I have noticed more signs popping up.
Cathryn Carkhuff 19:26
Yeah and probably a ton of work like a different landscape. We’ve been busy. Yeah, it’s right past in motion. And so you probably have some listeners that go to in motion if you just keep going down that road. You’ll just see it on the left. It’s a beautiful kind of native native Park.
Teresa Hernandez 19:44
I’m from Chico and I didn’t even know that existed.
Cathryn Carkhuff 19:47
Go check it out
Teresa Hernandez 19:49
I’m really gonna go check it out now.
joshuah whittinghill 19:52
It’s very much and I guess in in saying the name the using the term Park. It’s very different than the community park, you would think You go in and play and run around, it’s more of a nice, organic park, like Cathryn said, and more about plants. And there’s a nice trail to kind of walk around on there. And if you are familiar with it, you might not be familiar with the name of it. But you might be thinking, I think I’ve seen that park because there have been different years in the past where they’ll bring in, not CAVE, but the city will bring in little herd of goats. And the goats will cruise through there to kind of get rid of some of the unwanted.
Teresa Hernandez 20:28
Cathryn Carkhuff 20:28
Yeah. And a lot of folks don’t know, like, if you go there, that park was designed in partnership with the Mechoopda Tribe. And so the site leave that’s there, we actually work with Ali Meders-Knight, and all of your listeners should totally Google Ali Meders-Knight, she runs the traditional ecological knowledge TDK certification in the in local area, and she is blowing up and rightfully so, because she’s been an amazing activist Mom, you know, sustainability practitioner for like the last two decades. And now she’s starting to sit on committees and really kind of get a lot of access to be able to make some changes that need to happen in this area. So she really, you know, it’s city property, but she’s running the volunteer programs that go over there. And her perspective, as an indigenous woman, as a Mechoopda tribal member has been huge and really amazing for students to be able to kind of learn Willow, for example, you know, it’s it’s along the water, but you can cut it, if it’s hot, you can put a strand of it across your forehead, and it’ll actually cool you down. It’s the predominant thing that Mechoopda use to make baskets. And so it’s, you know, all these plants have remedies, they have so many properties that create this beautiful ecosystem of caring for land and land caring for you.
Teresa Hernandez 21:54
That’s amazing not not to go on a tangent, quick comment on that is like that, to realize how essential and how amazing to have that knowledge and carry that down through generations and how important it is. Sometimes I feel like for me, it used to just go way over my head because I’m I’m identify as Latina. So with my family, there’s generations of like remedies, like plants and you know, things that they would use that they had around them. And so whenever I would get sick, my mom would be like, Oh, just drink this tea, I picked it from the garden has this and this, and you’re gonna feel better. And I did. And then when I went away to college, and like, What did my mom put on that tea? Because I feel sick again, like, what do I need it? And so it’s just kind of, but you for I would forget, because I had my mom do it for me. And she knew, you know, from when she would learn from her mom, and so on and so forth about the different like healing remedies of all these all these plants. And now I’m just kind of like I I now realize how important it would be to know that at least, you know, to go down that pathway, because I’m really interested in that. But yeah, I think when we think of something that I appreciate that
Cathryn Carkhuff 22:53
You can also come every Friday from 10 to 1 and volunteer, you don’t have to be a Chico State student.
Teresa Hernandez 22:59
Okay I’m writing this down. Thank you.
joshuah whittinghill 23:03
So that’s every Friday, from
Cathryn Carkhuff 23:08
10 to 1.
joshuah whittinghill 23:08
10 to 1
Cathryn Carkhuff 23:10
At verbena fields.
joshuah whittinghill 23:13
Does that rain or shine? Or just shine?
Victoria Ramirez 23:15
Ali’s out there rain or shine? I’m not.
joshuah whittinghill 23:20
Okay. So so I think you’ve kind of touched on all of our questions, we want to make sure for our different resources that come on the show of of what program does who utilizes your resource, you touched on that. And then how people access it, you did briefly say go to our website, so it’s going to be in the show notes. And then once you get to caves website, you will be able to see the number of different opportunities there that you can look into. And then Victoria and Cathryn, their emails will be in the show notes as well. Is that the best way to contact you with questions? Right, right to one of your direct emails? Or is there an email that goes to cave that is better suited for questions?
Victoria Ramirez 24:03
Yeah, I can pop that in the chat. So you can share that as well. We have an amazing front desk team. And you can send them all your emails and they direct them to wherever they want to go. And I wanted to see if maybe because we we really only have tutorial open now. But come March, we’re gonna start doing our hires for group leaders and things like that. And so I don’t know, I hate to put you on the spot Victoria. But if you wanted to talk a little bit about like, working at cave and what it’s like to be on staff at cave, maybe pre and post pandemic.
Victoria Ramirez 24:50
So pre-pandemic, I started off like I said earlier as a volunteer and from there I just kind of kept moving up and the one thing that I love about this organization Is that how many people had the same values as me and as well as them wanting to do the same thing as me as far as helping out the community. As a group leader, I got to help the coordinator who supervise the program, and make sure that the volunteers were having a good time volunteering, and it’s just like a constant checkup with those students and making sure that everything is going well. And then as a coordinator, you’ve got when you supervise the whole program, and you meet with your group leaders weekly, and kind of keep going over the program and finding ways on how to improve it. And I feel like cave is one of those programs where it’s constant growth for the community, for the coordinator for the group leader for the volunteer. So it’s just really nice to see that over these past few years.
joshuah whittinghill 26:01
That is great. It’s been one of the wonderful things I’ve loved watching with CAVE of just the adaptability. When the community reaches out or says, Hey, CAVE, we have this need in our community that CAVE has always been there to kind of adjust and try and see how Chico State students and faculty and staff can then be connected with community projects, right? Because it is we are this we are this one collective community working together to not just enhance our campus, but all the little all the little hearts and pockets of communities around Chico and nearby as well. All right, so we are running out of time. And we’re moving into the portion where we will have recommendations. We’ve already heard one Cathryn shared with us the Chico traditional ecological stewardship program. And that link will be in the show notes as well. But what other recommendations do you have to share today? Victoria,
Victoria Ramirez 27:00
My recommendation is to wake up early, open the blinds, make your bed and text them and you care about letting them know that and wishing them a good morning, a good night, whatever the case might be.
joshuah whittinghill 27:14
Great, thank you, I love I love that. Because in the beginning of this, right, stay at home and remote, remote learning, remote working, a lot of people were talking in the beginning about take care of yourself set up a routine. And it was easy at the beginning, maybe for people and then people started to really get the understanding of this is not going to be just for three months. And so that routine may have very well just slipped away, or it’s changed or something. But adding something new maybe could be really fun and exciting for someone to add. And I love that making your bed. That’s that’s my toughest thing to do is I’m gonna I’m gonna crawl back in later. So But yeah, I do like that. So thank you. And Cathryn.
Cathryn Carkhuff 27:57
Yeah, I mean, I think, gosh, this, this has been a whirlwind of a year of a couple of years. And as a parent, as a daughter of my mom is in Florida, and I haven’t seen her since the pandemic hit. You know, like, I think the slowing down has really just, it’s, it’s a real big mirror. And so I mean, I think, I don’t know if I’m alone in this, but like, a lot has come up for me. And I’m just always trying to stay grounded and to like, listening to myself and my body and what the world is saying, and my place in the world, right. And so in the moments where that has been really cloudy or hard for me, I was lucky enough to read a book by Adrienne Maree Brown about four or five years ago called emergent strategy. And since then, she has really been my go to my sort of spiritual guide when I’m just feeling like a little lost about what I’m doing and my purpose and things like that. She is really great quote that I’ve been sticking with through the pandemic, which is vision is the rope through the devastation. So when it’s hard, like you have to vision your way out of it, right? And you have to like, pull on that rope all the way through. And she just has some amazing wisdom. And, that I’m always sort of looking to, she’s got a great Instagram, she has another book called pleasure activism. That’s dope. She’s got a blog, and she does a tarot card reading of the day for the world, which is really cool, too.
Teresa Hernandez 29:31
Perfect. All right. Awesome. Thank you so much, both to both of you for your recommendations. And also so to wrap this up, just letting our listeners know and our guests as well that everything that’s been shared today is going to be in our show notes. So you will all have access to the links, all the different recommendations, and links to CAVE website and all that good information if you want to utilize any of the resources or get involved. So definitely Check that out in our show notes and look into it being involved in your community has probably been, firstly, for me one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever had the opportunity of doing. So definitely recommend for you all to try it out. And with that, I want to say thank you to my co-host, josh. And also thank you to Victoria and Cathryn for joining us today and sharing your resources that are so essential for students and for the community. And so thank you for your time. Appreciate it.
Cathryn Carkhuff 30:26
Victoria Ramirez 30:27
joshuah whittinghill 30:27
Thank you both. Goodbye.
Teresa Hernandez 30:30