Part of the reason that I was able to be hired on full-time at Blandford is because I wear many hats for the Blandford team. In the winter, when there is not as much to keep two full time farm staff busy, I am primarily working as an outdoor educator: teaching programs such as “Anishinabek Lifeways,” “Wildlife with a Backbone,” and “Winter Explorers.” I am also privileged to be collaborating with other Blandford staff to pilot a school garden outreach program (called Growing Gardens), and create a new educational program based on the farm to reach upper elementary students.
As an aside, part of Blandford’s history is collaboration with a group called Mixed Greens. Mixed Greens was all about helping schools plan and maintain educational gardens, exposing students to many different kinds of vegetables and promoting healthy eating. Mixed Greens and BNC ended up merging together, but sadly, the program could not be sustained in the long term. The program I am working on with other BNC staff feels like it’s coming full circle to the intention behind Mixed Greens curriculum: making gardening and garden spaces more accessible to local schools.
I am hoping my role as educator, farmer (and occasionally graphic designer) will act as a bridge between the educational component of Blandford and the Blandford Farm. I believe that both aspects of the nature center have a lot to offer each other.
With moving into the new nature center building very recently, the acquisition of the highlands golf course, and all the internal planning of how we can expand our offerings to the community, it is certainly an exciting time to be on board! I feel honored to work at a place that values my perspective and contributions, and I’m excited to see where the next few years take us! I’ll try and hold on to that perspective come August, when it’s 90 degrees and I’ve been in the field for hours. I know there will be highs and lows to come, but for the present, I am feeling good. (Cue Nina Simone.)