From her ward at BYU–Hawaii to Kiribati, Abigail Hampton has spent her time in college in the service of others. After becoming the Relief Society president of her ward on her first Sunday in Hawaii, Hampton, a graduating senior from Utah majoring in communications and intercultural peacebuilding, said she was able to more deeply understand the needs of BYUH students and better serve them.
Hampton’s service opportunities since coming to BYUH include holding several positions in the Service center, including council member and manager, helping open the Temple View Learning Garden, assisting an NGO on an internship in Kiribati, and performing in an undercast play for her husband.
Temple View Learning Garden
When she first became a Relief Society president, Hampton said she was shocked because she did not know anyone. However, she explained, the calling allowed her to see students struggle to afford healthy food.
While trying to find ways to better serve the campus and working on her peacebuilding capstone project, this was something that stood out to Hampton. She said she knew people like Les Harper, sustainability coordinator and manager of SWATT. “I got to know him and knew what he was doing with sustainability.
“He had this farm needing to be moved at the time because they were going to build the hales back there. I had heard the married student garden was going to be shut down if no one was going to use it. I didn’t do a ton of work on it, but I feel like I orchestrated this movement to help students they need.”
She said Give & Take is designed for students to get items they need through service, using service as currency instead of money. “A lot of students who are married come here from other countries, and their spouses are not going to school.
“They're trying to work, pay rent and feed their families because a lot of them have kids. I feel like it is practically impossible. Rather than the food bank or using the Church welfare, we give them this opportunity to use this garden where they can give service and work for their own food, which will help them be better all around.”
Abigail Hampton’s husband, Devin Hampton, a senior from California majoring in business and accounting, described how proud he was of her project. He said, “For her senior project, she helped start the Give & Take Garden, which is now called the Temple View Learning Garden. It’s essentially like the Give & Take where you go and after 30 minutes of service you can leave with carrots, eggs, tomatoes [or] bananas.”
He said her capstone for peacebuilding was the Temple View Learning Garden. “The number of students who go through there and the amount of produce that leaves there is really incredible. It’s only been functional for less than a year.”
Harper said the garden has been impactful in the year it has open, especially for the children of students in the Laie Married Student Stake. “A good part of the crowd were kids. We have one student who focuses on teaching kids how to garden. The saying is if you train up a child when they're young, they won’t turn far from it. Learning how to grow crops is a very big thing.
“We are one generation away from starving to death. An awful lot of people never have any farming or gardening experience. The idea of if the grocery store stops supplying the food, would we survive? A lot of people wouldn’t because they don’t have a clue as to how to do it. This is a whole new generation of gardens and farming. Potentially they could go on to careers in that.”
Hydroponics in Kiribati
Abigail Hampton said when she heard Harper was traveling to Kiribati with former BYUH student Eritai Kateibwi, she decided she wanted to go as well. “I sat down with [Les] and said I wanted to go with him. He was like, ‘Are you coming?’ I said yes. He said it couldn’t just be me and him. I looked over at [my husband] Devin, and said, ‘You’re coming on an internship in Kiribati.’ He said, ‘Okay. Let’s do it.’ We put together a really quick internship.
The goal of the project was to continue working with hydroponics and water hauling. Harper wished to have Kiribati move forward. According to Abigail Hampton, the island is sinking and water is ruining the ground. The people are unable to grow their own food.
She said, “[Eritai] is trying to help people grow their own food to be healthier and to not have to rely so much on other countries.”
Harper said the trip to Abigail Hampton was all about the people. He said, “She was always looking at how things affected people. Whether it was sitting down with a blind lady in Kiribati learning how to make traditional maps or looking at some of the projects we have like the learning garden.
“Abigail was there for the sociology, discovering the people, their true needs, their culture, their day-to-day focus, what keeps them happy and what keeps them going. It was two months. It was a very rewarding experience for them. I know for the NGO it worked really well.
“[She] was very focused on social situations. There were connections that were made locally that really helped us move our project. One of our big things in Kiribati was hydroponics and food. It’s not the way they traditionally grow things in Kiribati, so it was an opportunity to help integrate the people into new technology in agriculture. We were helping that transition.”
According to Abigail Hampton, she has not found her dream job yet. “I don’t know what I want to do. I have yet to create my dream job in my mind, so I can chase it. I’ll probably do something with management. I love to be over things. Like most millennials, I want to do something that feels important to me that isn’t some mundane desk job, but I also don’t want to be far from my family for too long.
“I would like to be a mom and have a family. I’ll probably start businesses with my husband. I think it would be cool to keep starting new things with him and do things together.
“Whether it’s in my family or in the community, when you start anything new there is lots of conflict. It takes everything [we’ve] learned and putting it into motion. It will probably be a few years before we start anything, but that’s we want to do.”
Devin Hampton said of his wife, “She comes from a super strong family. I think Hampton entrepreneurship rubbed off on her a little bit. She’s got so many more and different talents than I do. Her options are so much broader than mine. I know exactly what I’m going to be doing, where at least right now Abigail has a ton of options and possibilities.
Harper said he will miss Abigail Hampton for her quiet maturity. He said, “She is well beyond her years in maturity. Young as she is, she has very mature insights into the lives of those around her.”