Megan Turner Penn ‘97
What advantage or value(s) did you gain by attending an all-girls school?
I gained self-confidence and self-acceptance by attending an all-girls school. By not having to worry so much about what I looked like, I could really focus on being myself. I was extremely shy, and Rosary helped me find my voice. Because of that, the friendships I made were extremely strong "real" and my Rosary sisters are some of the most important people in my life today.
What is an important lesson you learned after high school?
Now as a mother of two girls, I realize how fortunate I was to attend Rosary, because it really played a big role in helping to shape who I am today.
What piece of advice or inspiration would you give to a Royal?
You can do and be anything you want to be with enough work and perseverance. Also, don't be afraid to ask for help. In order to succeed at something, you have to be willing to jump in with everything that you've got. You might fail, but you can't let the potential for failure stop you from trying. Pursuing my dream of wanting to start a farmer's market has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. There have been so many hurdles, and at times, I wasn't sure we would get through them. But staying focused and continuing to push forward is what has helped both me and our organization continue to grow.
Who is someone or a quote from someone during your time at Rosary that you have always remembered and carried with you?
"The friend given you by circumstances over which you have no control, was God's own gift."- Fredrick Robertson. This was a quote from our senior year yearbook (1997). I was a yearbook editor that year and a White Wonder Woman on the White Team for Red and Gold. Looking back at that quote, I didn't realize how true it really was. The friendships from high school have been such wonderful gifts in my life. I pull strength and courage from these incredible women every day.
What do you do now?
Currently, I am a co-founder and the Executive Director of Orange Home Grown Foundation. I manage a local non-profit that focuses on creating community through the establishment of urban agriculture opportunities. Our organization runs a weekly farmers market, a 7,000 sqft education farm, a seed lending library, youth food literacy program, and scholarship program to support higher education efforts.
What is something that you love about your job?
I love knowing that I am working every day to make the City where I live and work a better place. I love all the relationships I have formed over the last decade working to bring Orange Home Grown (OHG) to life. I also love seeing the impacts that our programs have on others, the relationships they make, and the positive experiences that come from the volunteers that pour their heart and soul into what we do every day.
What are some of your accomplishments? Of those what are you most proud of?
I am proud that our farmer's market accepts EBT (CalFresh Food Stamps) and that we qualified for a grant from the Ecology Center in Berkeley to provide Market Match (free money to EBT users), making access to locally grown food more accessible to all income levels.
Our organization has received some local and state recognitions over the years, specifically: Orange Public Library Foundation Legacy Award (2016), American Planning Association (ALA) California Chapter- Grassroots Initiative Award (2017), APA Orange County Section- Outstanding Planning Grassroots Initiative Award (2017), Old Towne Orange Preservation Association Spirit of Old Towne Award (2018), Orange Community Historical Society Florence Flippin Smiley Award (2018), and Voted OC Register Best Farmers Market ( 2017 & 2018).
I am most proud of being a wife and mother to three wonderful children (Madie 6.5, Hannah 5, and Graham 4 months). Being a mom is the most rewarding accomplishment of my life.