Q & A with Lizzie Grabowski of the Farm-Based Education Network (Boston, MA)

February 1, 2019

Who are you and what do you do for the Farm-Based Education Network?

Hi there, everybody! My name is Lizzie Grabowski and I am joining the hardworking team at the Farm-Based Education Network to help manage FBEN’s social media accounts and newsletter. Though not working out of the idyllic Shelburne Farms property, I too can be found in New England -- in a far less pastoral Boston apartment.


How did you discover farm-based ed and what is your experience in the field?

I discovered Farm-Based Education during my time as a student at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA. The school managed an organic farm just off campus and offered students the unique opportunity to engage with the farm through the classroom and as student employees. I started out as a farm-hand during my junior year and quickly fell in love, returning after graduation to work for the farm full-time as their Education Coordinator.


Since then, I’ve traveled coast to coast working and learning about sustainable agriculture and food in Maryland, California, DC, Vermont, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. I consider myself extremely lucky to have experience working as part of a field crew, an educator, and a program coordinator and believe this varied repertoire allows me to approach my work through multiple lenses.


What excites you most about the work that you do with the social media accounts and newsletter?


This one’s easy...all of you! I love learning about the work that all of the member educators are doing across the globe. Chatting with educators, assisting them with promoting programs and job openings, and featuring their hard work is more pleasure than work. I’ve even been able to meet some of our members in person at a farm-based summer camp workshop last month and look forward to similar opportunities in the future.


What is your teaching philosophy?


My teaching philosophy is a reflection of the all the educators I have worked with and learned from during my short career. Like any philosophy, it is still evolving. I see my work as a farm-based educator to be akin to a matchmaker. I am trying to make my students fall in love with the outdoors, farms in particular. By introducing students to the wonders of ecology, animal husbandry, and sustainable agriculture, I hope to build a relationship between them and the land they interact with. Once this foundation is laid, I truly believe that my students will be more likely to carry what they learn beyond the classroom and engage with and protect land throughout their lifetime.s


What advice would you give to beginning farm-based educators?


I very much consider myself a beginning farm-based educator, so all of my advice should be taken with a grain of salt. That being said, I believe that the best way to figure out exactly what you want to do in the realm of farm-based education is through networking. Luckily, we’ve built one for you! Reach out to other educators that specialize in a topic that interests you, work in your region, or are delivering programming that you find intriguing. As educators, we are all eager to lend any guidance we can and it never hurts to build relationships in your field.


What do you enjoy doing in your free time when you are not working?


When I am not working, I love to spend as much time as I can outdoors: hiking, biking, exploring...you name it! When I’m not outside, I’m probably in the kitchen testing a new recipe or on my yoga mat (read: falling off my yoga mat).


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