The Food Literacy Project at Oxmoor Farm, Louisville, KY
Where do you currently work?
The Food Literacy Project is the education non-profit arm of a working commercial vegetable farm (Field Day Family Farm) in Louisville. Our main goal is to transform youth and their communities through food, farming, and the land.
As Program Director, I plan, implement, monitor, evaluate, and report on the Food Literacy Project’s Field-to-Fork Program, which consists of experiential education initiatives that invite students to experience hands-on activities as they get their hands dirty, taste new foods fresh from the field, and get involved in the work of the farm or in their school garden. The farm and school gardens are our outdoor, living classrooms where students are challenged by inquiry-based group programs that emphasize hands-on experiences using their senses.
I hire, train, and supervise a program staff team of farm-based educators, ensuring the delivery of high-quality, safe, effective programs; maintain and build community partnerships; and develop and refine curriculum that aligns with core content. All of this is to say my day-to-day is varied, and I love it! One hour might find me behind my computer on the farm writing grants or sharing our Field-to-Fork story with our constituents. Another hour might find me in the Learning Garden, teaching students how to harvest asparagus and doing the plant dance (it’s a real thing!). Another day might find me driving our Truck Farm (our mobile learning garden planted right into the bed of a red Chevy pickup truck) around town to bring a piece of the farm to those who are unable to visit us. Every day is truly different from the farm to the community.
How has folklore prepared you for your career?
Folklore prepared me tremendously well to work in education and in community-based programming. Learning how to interview people through projects like the Elkmont Oral History Project and the Allen County Folklife and Oral History Project pulled me out of my introverted side and taught me how to identify and interact with key community members to meet community needs. The opportunity to work as an assistant curator with Mammoth Cave National Park through my WKU graduate research assistantship prepared me for several years of museum work. Additionally, the range of coursework from vernacular architecture to folk belief in combination with countless and varied internships at places like the Kentucky Museum, Gardner Historic House, American Folklore Society’s Traditional Cultural Properties project, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park project, the Allen County project, and more prepared me for a variety of jobs. Because I was able to try many different career paths before I even ventured into a career, I was able to determine what kind of work I found enjoyable and most meaningful.
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