Linda the Great: A Volunteer's Perspective
A couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to sit down to lunch with one of our all-star field trip volunteers of the 2018/2019 school year. Linda Cater approached our organization with a helping hand and an open heart. I am so grateful for her contribution to EAT South.
An Interview with Linda Cater (LC) and Amanda Edwards (AE), EAT South Program Coordinator:
AE: How long have you been in Montgomery ?
LC: I moved here about 17 years ago from Anniston.
AE: How long have you been involved with the Master Gardeners?
LC: I graduated from the course in December of 2018, so, a year and a half?
AE: And so have you been gardening longer than that or…?
LC: Yes, flowers mostly.
AE: And how did you find out about EAT South?
LC: Through Master Gardeners. You came to our lunch and learn and I liked what you said you were doing so I wanted to be involved.
AE: And did that help you get the Master Gardener'‘s hours that you needed?
LC: Yes, they gave you a choice of things to do. I also work at the Governor’s mansion with some of the other gardeners from Elmore and Autauga County.
AE: Tell me a little bit more about your time with EAT South.
is one way we can engage children in an outdoor environment…
LC: I’ve enjoyed it because I love to work with the children. Especially the little girls in their little white dresses and white shoes in the mud [chuckles].
AE: Do the Master Gardeners that come with you to the farm… Do y’all get to take what you learned and bring that to other organizations at all?
LC: When you’re working with children, you learn a lot from them, but a lot of things we can use with what we’re doing with Master Gardeners. Some of the children don’t even know what a farm is, and a lot of kids don’t play outside.
AE: So, gardening is one way we can engage children in an outdoor environment.
LC: I want to work on making the experience in the herb garden more exciting for the young children.
AE: We have been trying to mix up some of the curriculum. So, for example, we are going to be including a healthy snack at every field trip now. That’s because the kids really enjoy it but also we’re no longer selling produce at the Curb Market. And that way the produce reaches more people too.
If you were to talk about our program to other prospective volunteers, what would you tell them?
LC: It’s a good opportunity for somebody that’s willing to work, that can communicate with children and their parents. That’s hard to do sometimes. And, oh, it’s not for people who just tell you they’re coming an not show up.
AE: Anything else about the program?
LC: I would tell them how much I have been enjoying myself. When people think they’re missing out on something, they’ll come help. I don’t think the Master Gardeners use it enough and I really think the Herb Society ought to become more involved.
I think one of the most interesting things happened with the students that came from Smith Station. On of the little boys said, “I know what that’s for, it’s for essential oil.” The other kids thought is was real strange that a kid from the country knew about essential oils. The little girls looked at him like he was nuts. So he began to explain what his mother does and he really helped teach the class that day because he knew more about essential oils than most everybody.
AE: I think that’s really cool when students get an opportunity to share something about their family that maybe they don’t ever get to talk about. And I think it's an opportunity for us to say, “Wow, look what knowledge your classmate has!” It’s also important to help the class see the importance of that knowledge. Not just to say, “Oh, that’s weird that you know that.” Because unfortunately, that’s what kids want to do, they want to say, “Oh that’s weird that your mom makes oils.”
LC: That’s right, and I don’t think his mom was there that day.
AE: Where are the opportunities for EAT South to improve our volunteer program?
LC: I think that those of us who are active in the Master Gardeners and the Herb Society make sure that when we are given opportunities to volunteer that they also include EAT South. You’re not officially on the written list. Those of us who are there need to work on that.
Do you have an interest in outdoor education? Do you have at least one weekday morning a month free? You can become a Good Food Day Volunteer Field Trip Coordinator. Contact Amanda Edwards with questions or for more information.