Sign up for News & Updates

The Real Dirt on On-Farm Educators: Jessie

Jessie is next up on our series "The Real Dirt on On-Farm Educators" created by Lauren Strug, our Duffy Community Partnerships Intern from Beloit College. When she is not leading on-farm programs, Jessie is Communications Coordinator for Angelic Organics Learning Center, which means she's our social media maven, perennial photographer, primary graphic designer, chief storyteller, and coordinator of this blog. Learn more about Jessie below!

How long have you worked at Angelic Organics?

I have worked for the Learning Center since 2008, so I am starting my 7th growing season.

What experiences inform your work at the Learning Center?

My background is in art and environmental activism, with steadfast interest in Deep Ecology. My philosophy of interconnectedness with all of life blends well with spiritual emphasis in the Biodynamic aspect of the farm as a living organism, part of a greater whole (the cosmos!). I believe the first step of environmental activism is engaging others and facilitating a reconnection to the earth. Kids especially need to develop their wonder of the natural world and fall in love with nature. Not every kid gets that naturally anymore, as children don't get outside as much. No one is willing to work to protect something they don't understand and love. Moreover, inspiring people to change the food system has far-reaching impacts environmentally - from the soil, to water quality, to the climate.

What classes do you teach?

I teach a variety of classes from field trips to DIY Holiday Gifts. I love leading environmental studies field trips with high schoolers and college students. My favorite class to teach is Kids with Cob and the Earth Oven workshops with my husband, On-Farm Educator, Randy Mermel.

What is one interesting fact about you?

I used to teach natural childbirth classes and work as a doula (a helper in birth).

Favorite thing to grow and/or eat? Favorite farm animal?

My favorite thing to grow and eat is asparagus! It is so fun to hunt for it in our asparagus patch in the spring! Babe, the almost 32-year-old Percheron horse, has my heart on the farm. She is such a grounding creature to be around. But I also love our shaggy Scottish Highland cows and the sweet and funny goats. I have chickens at home and I am a little obsessed with them. They are adorable and they gift my family with eggs.

What has been your most rewarding teaching experience at the farm?

Generally, I love to watch children blossom on the farm: get dirty, connect with animals and nature, and fall in love with vegetables. The most rewarding experience I have had was when I was first beginning and I was leading a day camp. There were two boys from Rockford that someone had sponsored to come to camp. They had never been on a farm or played much in nature. Initially, they were terrified of the goats. However, by the end of the week, they were changed kids! They loved the goats and playing in the creek. It was wonderful to watch them transform their fears into a positive relationship with the animals, the land, and even the buzzing insects!

Ready to join us at the farm? Check out all our upcoming on-farm programs here.