Last November, I put in an application at a place called Calypso Farm & Ecology Center. It is a little CSA farm outside of town, near the old goldrush-camp-turned-trendy-hamlet of Ester. I have avoided writing about this application, for fear of somehow jinxing the process. However, now that interviews are over and I have (purportedly) made peace with either decision on their part, I am breaking the silence.
When we first arrived, we spent quite a bit of time trying to get our bearings in this busted-up, beat-down city (University and Farmers Market, excepted.) The name Calypso kept popping up, and when we finally found free WiFi at the library, I looked it up. Turns out, they needed volunteers for their fall field trip program. I called, and was immediately conscripted to help kids make goat cheese and harvest chamomile. It was hard to contain my joy!
The current educational coordinator is leaving the farm, and when her position officially opened up, she encouraged me to apply. In light of my many misgivings about a possible role in the traditional education system (and by extension my current graduate pursuits) I thought this might make a pretty good match. Because of Fairbanks' brutal winters, the farm is shut down for two of Drexel's four quarters, leaving me open to take a heavier load of classes and complete my student teaching over the cold months. Also, we get lots of fresh, free produce all season. Also, there are goats. Need I say more?
Peter and I debated on what one wears to an interview at a CSA farm in the dead of winter. After some discussion, we landed on: Snowboots. Clean Jeans. A sort-of frayed red sweater. Also, I went to town and showered.
I arrived at the farm happy for the snowboot decision. The "office" is about a quarter mile uphill on a very snowy (not drivable) road, smack in the middle of the 20 acres of developed farmland. The office is in a yurt. Thankfully, a yurt with a rather large and well stoked wood stove. Inside, I met the farm co-owner Tom, who was wearing a pair of busted up work carharts and a Grateful Dead T-shirt over longjohns. All of my misgivings about the frayed sweater were immediately dismissed.
The interview went well (as well as a follow up phone-interview with another farm employee.) My favorite question - one I doubt comes up in most interviews - was "If you could be a vegetable, what vegetable would you be?" (Sorrel. Looks like plain old lettuce ... but bite into it and you get a lot more flavor than you bargained for!) The rest of the interview questions were predictable: What teaching experience do you have? What large-group-of-unruly-kid-herding experience do you have? What ages have you worked with?Organizational experience? Programs facilitated? Ad Nauseum. Regular interview stuff. But it was a very relaxed experience (lulled, no doubt, by the roaring wood stove.)
I know I made the first cut, but I haven't heard back about the final decision yet. I have my fingers crossed both ways. The job is pretty huge - they run a lot of field trips for a lot of kids throughout the farm season, and are expanding - which is (I hope) understandably overwhelming. Especially since I haven't had a 'real job' (does this even count as a real job?) in over a year. But it is also exactly what I am excited about; it is experiential, hands on learning that brings the community - kids and adults - into a closer relationship with the land they live on and the food that feeds them, ultimately with themselves.
More than anything, the process of thinking through and applying for this position has solidified the kind of education I want to be involved with in the future. I know that for all the slogging I am doing at the moment to get through the MS degree, this kind of thing is what I am doing it for. Focusing on this possibility (even if it doesn't turn out) has given me a lot more focus to keep slogging.
So I am waiting for that phone call.