Visionary Leader and Farmer, Will Allen, Credits his Success to the
Values Learned as a Student-Athlete
Milwaukee, WI (December 1, 2011) – When Will Allen left his family’s farm to play basketball at the University of Miami (Florida), he thought he had left the farm for good. Now, 40 years later, Will Allen is elbow deep in dirt again and committed to growing food for the “Good Food Revolution.”
Known as the “Teddy,” the Theodore Roosevelt Award is the highest honor the NCAA bestows. Each year the award is presented to a former NCAA student-athlete for whom athletics in college and attention to physical well-being after graduation have led to a distinguished career of national significance. Allen will receive the award January 13, 2012 at the NCAA Honors Celebration during the 2012 NCAA Convention in Indianapolis.
Allen, an urban farmer, has gained regional and national attention over the last two decades for his work as the lead trainer and Chief Executive Officer of the non-profit organization, Growing Power, Inc., headquartered in Milwaukee, WI. In 1993, Allen offered a group of teens the opportunity to help him renovate the Growing Power greenhouses in order to grow food for their community. What started as a simple partnership to grow a few gardens blossomed into a national and global commitment to sustainable food systems. Allen’s knowledge and commitment turned the innovative Growing Power Community Food Center into the demonstration model and training grounds to support this work.
“I believe that healthy communities cannot exist without healthy food systems,” said Allen. To grow these healthy communities, Growing Power welcomes anyone who is interested in urban sustainable food systems, renewable energy, the environment, and of course, food, to participate in the many educational opportunities the organization offers. In particular, Growing Power provides regular trainings, resource development, technical support and outreach for limited resource farmers and socially disadvantaged communities.
“I really value this award, because it shows that student-athletes can provide more than just entertainment,” said Allen, who was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in 2010. “You can do something positive to impact people’s lives beyond just having them watch you play a sport. I hope other student-athletes will realize that there’s so more to life than their sport.”
Allen often uses sport metaphors when encouraging his Growing Power staff of more than 100. During a recent staff meeting he said, “We all have to work together, like a basketball team. We have to perfect the same play and do it over and over again. And, if it doesn’t work, then we alter our game plan, but we have to trust each other to know the play.” Allen knows his game, and has lead his Growing Power team to succeed in developing and shaping the Good Food Revolution.
“Will Allen is one of the many examples of a student-athlete who makes a difference in the world after their playing days have ended. Mr. Allen’s passion to create healthy communities by providing fresh, safe, affordable and nutritious food – regardless of economic background – is inspiring,” said NCAA President Mark Emmert. “I am pleased to present the 2012 Theodore Roosevelt Award to Mr. Allen.”
About Growing Power
Growing Power was started in Milwaukee, Wis., in 1993 by Will Allen, a 2008 winner of a MacArthur “Genius Award” who has long worked to produce and deliver healthy food to low-income communities. It is a national nonprofit organization and land trust supporting people from diverse backgrounds, and the environments in which they live, by helping to provide equal access to healthy, high-quality, safe and affordable food for people in all communities. Growing Power implements this mission by providing hands-on training, on-the-ground demonstration, outreach and technical assistance through the development of Community Food Systems that help people grow, process, market and distribute food in a sustainable manner.
About Will Allen
Will Allen, son of a sharecropper, former professional basketball player, ex-corporate sales leader, and now farmer, has become recognized as among the preeminent thinkers of our time on agriculture and food policy. The founder and CEO of Growing Power Inc., a farm and community food center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Allen is widely considered the leading authority in the expanding field of urban agriculture. At Growing Power and in community food projects across the nation and around the world, Allen promotes the belief that all people, regardless of their economic circumstances, should have access to fresh, safe, affordable and nutritious foods at all times. Using methods he has developed over a lifetime, Allen trains community members to become community farmers, assuring them a secure source of good food without regard to political or economic forces. In 2010 Mr. Allen joined First Lady Michelle Obama as she launched the White House’s “Let’s Move” campaign to address issues affecting American youth and the risk of obesity and Mr. Allen was also recognized as one of TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.
About the NCAA and the NCAA Theodore Roosevelt Award
Founded more than one hundred years ago as a way to protect student-athletes, the NCAA continues to implement that principle with increased emphasis on athletics and academic excellence.
The Theodore Roosevelt Award is presented annually to a distinguished citizen of national reputation and outstanding accomplishment who, having graduated from an NCAA member institution and having earned a varsity athletics award in college or having participated in competitive intercollegiate athletics in college, has, by a continuing interest and concern for physical fitness and competitive sport and by personal example exemplified most clearly and forcefully the ideals and purposes to which college athletics programs and amateur sports competitions are dedicated.
Susie Falk: 414.232.2562
Emily Potter: 317.917.6984
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