Who better to lead these children’s activities than future public school teachers, say Jungle Farm officials. Nicole Homan and Therese Rolheiser are both working towards their teaching degrees and are spending their summer doing what they love best – working with kids.
“I knew in Kindergarten that I wanted to be a teacher, because I love kids and working with people – and teaching checks all those boxes,” said Homan, who will be going into her third year of the Bachelor of Education program at Red Deer Polytechnic. “I’m from a family of teachers who also love the garden, so it’s a natural fit to be spending my summers at The Jungle Farm. This is my fifth year here and I hope this experience will bring a creative culture to my classroom. Being able to teach in such a unique and happy environment has been great, and Leona is so supportive of her staff – many of them are teachers.”
Homan feels that children learn something new every time they go outside, and he created The Jungle Farm’s version of One Thousand Hours Outside. It was provided at The Jungle Farm last summer as a pilot program and was so popular, it’s back as part of the roster of children’s summer programming. Nicole and Therese will be planning and leading the program together.
“My two favorite things are being outside and being with kids, so this is a perfect fit,” said Rolheiser, who is going into her second year in the University of Calgary’s Bachelor of Education program. “My mom is a teacher, so I grew up knowing it was a rewarding career. The experience of making lesson plans and being around kids this summer is really good timing for me. Plus, I love working with my hands and being busy with the constant tasks that are part of the day on a farm. The people here are so friendly – they work really hard, but they are so nice and welcoming.”
Leona and Blaine Staples are described as great ambassadors for teachers and for sharing their own knowledge. Leona recently completed a long commitment as Chair of the Board of Governors for Olds College of Agriculture and Technology.
“I’m relentless about advocating for our teachers who work here, or have been here in the past,” said Leona, who takes the lead with the classroom field trips. “Our staff who are studying Education at post-secondary are able to showcase their skills here, and it benefits everyone. I went out of my way to connect them with other teachers, so they can create a strong network that will help them in the future. They do such important work.”