Gibson Ek High School graduate Connor Lo grew 130 pounds of fresh produce for the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank last year. As a senior, Lo planned a legacy garden that could grow even more fresh vegetables for community members in need – a garden that new and returning Gibson Ek students can continue and maintain in years to come. But his ideas, inspiration and the research he put in go far beyond preparing the ground and sowing seeds.
Since Lo was young, he and his family have volunteered at soup kitchens. He's also something of a foodie, and loves eating delicious, fresh food. In his second year at Gibson Ek, Lo researched epigenetics – or the study of how a person's behavior and environment can cause changes that affect how their genes work – and whether lifestyle choices impact health later in life. “Connor is incredibly smart and has a passion for science,” said his adviser, Victoria Mott, who teaches chemistry and biology at Gibson Ek. When studying epigenetics, “He wanted to know: Could a high school student’s decisions today influence their children in 30 years?”
Each of those pieces played into his capstone project, which brings together his work of growing fresh produce to help break the cycle of food insecurity with his research into the myriad of ways that not having easy access to good nutrition can affect people.
During the height of the pandemic, Lo and his family were looking for new ways to help those in need. “I was just trying to find a way to help,” Lo said, noting that they were still cooking and dropping off meals for others throughout the Seattle area. “We’re Chinese, and food is a symbol of hospitality. We put a lot of effort into our meals, and I don’t think having money should be the deciding factor in being able to eat what you want to eat.”
Read the whole story on the Issaquah School District website.