Beau Cooper uses an activity he enjoys to address a major void in the community.
Cooper is a devoted gardener. A former AmeriCorps Arkansas GardenCorps member, Cooper is dedicated to helping people and organizations plant gardens.
“It’s very important to be involved in the community and do what you can to give back,” he said.
Cooper was recently at the Governor’s Mansion in Little Rock as part of a select group of Arkansans who were honored during the 2017 Community Service Awards. The CSA was sponsored by the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Office of Communications and Community Engagement (OCCE) and KARK Channel 4, in cooperation with McLarty Automotive Group, the Office of the Governor, and the Governor’s Advisory Commission on National Service and Volunteerism.
Understanding that unhealthy eating options can cause a person several issues, Cooper is a staunch proponent of homegrown produce.
“Having a well-balanced meal is something I’ve always thought was important. There are a lot of people who don’t know the basics of healthy eating,” he said. “I’ve always supported environmental awareness and being a good steward of the planet. There’s definitely a relationship between a better environment and foods that are grown in a garden.”
Being a part of the Fit 2 Live community garden campaign was an eye-opening experience, Cooper added.
“It felt great to get involved with the community through Fit 2 Live. It was good for me to learn how different people and different organizations approached the issue of food deserts, hunger, and nutrition education. People came to us as members of Fit 2 Live to put in community gardens to solve those issues.”
Cooper, a respected gardener, is often called upon to create a garden’s plan, infrastructure, irrigation system, and its growing calendars. Additionally, he led the Reaching Our Children and Neighborhoods (ROCAN) afterschool program. Through ROCAN, Cooper introduced gardening skills to youth from low-income backgrounds. Cooper has also conducted a six-week healthy cooking class at the North Little Rock Boys and Girls Club, and the Laman Library Argenta Branch.
“Beau is the perfect example of how to use a special skill to assist in the well-being of others,” said OCCE Volunteer Program Coordinator Kimberly Simpson. “Beau is adamant about making sure the residents in his community have access to healthy eating options.”
The grandchild of a 1978 CSA honoree, Cooper has participated in community service his entire life. Cooper is humbled by the positive attention he receives for doing something he loves.
“It’s a big honor for me to be recognized just as my grandmother did,” he said. “Those are definitely big shoes to fill.”