PHARR – A Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD junior has been selected to serve as a representative for the Health Ambassadors for a Ready Texas (HART) Initiative by the Texas Department of Agriculture. Amy Escalante, from PSJA T. Jefferson T-STEM Early College High School, is one of only 26 students from across Texas selected to serve in the inaugural class.

The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) developed the Health Ambassadors for a Ready Texas (HART) Initiative to provide high school students with an opportunity to champion healthy eating and overall wellness on their school campuses. Ambassadors are encouraged to engage with school staff, students and other school partners to promote healthy messages about TDA Child Nutrition Programs and improve school health environments.

According to her Principal Virna Maldonado, Escalante is pursuing an Associate Degree in Business Administration from South Texas College and is on track to graduate later this year in December. Maldonado shared that her extraordinary leadership skills and commitment to promoting wellness make her a well-deserving candidate for the inaugural class.

“I am overwhelmed with pride and joy that she was selected,” said Maldonado. “Wellness is a priority at our campus and having one of our students selected from across the state is incredible.”

Representing PSJA ISD and her school as a HART Ambassador, Escalante will be charged with championing healthy eating and wellness within her school communities. Already, her Principal shared that the junior has been helping to encourage students and staff to take part in the 2019 It’s Time Texas Community Challenge, which is an annual statewide competition that unites school districts, businesses, and organizations with the common goal of transforming their community’s health.

This year, PSJA ISD is partnering with the City of Alamo for the Community Challenge, which is taking place Jan. 7 – March 3. Currently, PSJA ISD is ranked 3rd in the state in the large school district category and the City of Alamo is in 10th place.

“Amy has been crucial in leading the efforts for the Challenge here at our campus,” Bazan said. “She's been helping us register our students and teachers for the competition. We are so proud of her.”

Through the HART Initiative, high school students will collaborate directly with the Food and Nutrition division at TDA. They will learn strategies for increasing students’ awareness of good nutrition practices and encouraging participation in child nutrition programs.