Autumn at the Learning Center is always full of changes. The beautiful oak leaves turn from green to stunning reds and yellows, the fall flowers bloom, and the gardens are put to bed for the year.
Along with the natural changes come changes to our amazing On-Farm Staff. We are saying goodbye to Laura Sjoquist, our long-time On Farm Program Manager. Laura has worked incredibly hard the past few years ensuring children and adults alike have received quality education. She has always been focused on fun activities for all camp participants and has delivered exceptional programming to hundreds of participants. Not only has Laura cared about two-legged animals, she has played a major caregiver to all of our precious animals on the farm. We want to wish Laura the very best in her upcoming endeavors. We will miss your smiling face around the farm.
With change comes new promise and we are fortunate enough to welcome three new On-Farm Staff members, Mia Spade, our new On Farm Education Manager, Andrew Skupien, Kitchen Manager and Tiffany Howell, Farm Assistant. All three of these wonderful people bring exceptional education, skill and talent to the Learning Center.
At the beginning of the summer myself, Yatte and Ken had an opportunity to spend some time at Beyer Early Childhood Preschool. Previously I had met with Principal Blackwell to discuss how we could use Blackhawk Courts Farm as a living classroom for both her students and teachers. The reality of having the entire student body visit the farm soon became unrealistic.
Instead we brought the farm to them! We spent 5 days, 8 hours each day, over a two week span teaching the children about the life cycle of a plant. We set up in the hallway of the school and rotated every 45 minutes allowing each classroom an opportunity to visit with us. Each child had an opportunity to transplant a herb plant (Basil or Cilantro) into a container and take it home with them. Finally, they all received a Roots & Wings sticker to wear as members of our team. The kids were so engaged, excited, and willing to sample a herb they may not have ever tasted. Throughout the day the kids would pass us in the hallway, proudly wearing their stickers, and enthusiastically waving to us and saying “Hi Farmer Tedd, hi Farmer Ken!”
We had a wonderful time and since many of the kids live in Blackhawk Courts, we were able to build new relationships. In the end we made over 500 new friends, and planted over 600 seedlings in preparation for the kids to take home.
While I was there I witnessed the love, respect, and attentiveness the teachers showed to all the kids. I walked away feeling in awe of the important role teachers play in our lives. Thank you Principal Blackwell and the staff for all you do!
- Tedd Snowden