My tenure at Fair Oaks was brief, but I learned so much in that short time that I feel like I worked there for years. I was hired with essentially no experience and was quickly trained on heavy equipment and taught how to use basic handtools efficiently, safely, and effectively. That training will be helpful to me for the rest of my life. But what I did not realize at the time, and what became the most important lesson I learned there, was my development of a deeper appreciation of people and nature.

For example, my training included being told: “We never know who may drive down the lane for a visit, so be sure to greet everyone warmly and let them know that they may make themselves at home.”

That was the first time I had ever heard anything like that. I always thought that if a stranger was coming down your driveway, you grab the shotgun and ask questions later.

To me, the ongoing battle at Fair Oaks against invasive plant species is a funny contrast to how welcoming it is to new folks. The openness in that regard has shown me how each new person I meet is unique and, by spending some time with them, I might come away much better off.

I could tell some great stories of my time working at Fair Oaks, but I would rather tell them in person.

I like to go back every now and then to bush hog a field or two – it is like meditation.