I have spent 25 months out of the past 4 years of my life as a full-time volunteer —receiving only a stipend—because I feel so passionate about my cause. I have gained the experience and education I needed to realize my vision of creating a farm-based education program in my own community from my work planning and implementing youth programs for the following organizations: UW-Extension, Americorps VISTA, CityYear, Earthworks Inc., Milestones Programs for Children, Hawthorne Valley Farm Visiting Students Program, and Wellspring Inc. I have led site-based activities for hundreds of youth in outdoor classrooms, gardens, and orchards in Milwaukee, Boston, and New York.
I am currently working through the winter months to develop numerous workshops for the upcoming year. At minimum I will host a few multiday workshops for youth to participate in gardening, cooking, and shelter-building activities on the farm. The youth will also work with farm animals including pigs, chickens, and possibly sheep. My role as garden educator includes all of the following:
• Grant-writing/procurement of funding through fees or grants to cover full budget
• Creating detailed program budget
• Securing safe environment for youth/taking all health considerations into account
• Determining workshop dates with consideration of CSA and Conference Center schedule
• Recruiting youth
• Planning age appropriate activities/curriculum
• Recruiting and training camp staff to implement activities
• Working with CSA and Market Garden to plan menu
• Obtaining all necessary supplies
• Documenting workshops for PR and use as precedence
My goal as an educator is to provide children with tangible experiences rather than passive or abstract instruction. I have been a positive role model and mentor to so many children and hope to continue to do so—our future generations need to develop a connection to the natural world. They need outdoor programs to supplement passive classroom instruction. They need to be given the opportunity to develop a meaningful connection to the natural world—the health, happiness, and security of all organisms on this planet depend on this and this alone.