Early Childhood
Education Impact
For Educators

One scholarship. And the lives it's changing.

Posted by Holly Brough
Director of Communications

Tanya wrote the Farm a long thank you letter after her experience at last summer's workshop, "Project Seasons for Young Learners." We've excerpted that letter here, with her permission.  -- Holly

I really didn’t know what to expect at the workshop, but I knew I’d be learning about sustainability -- practices I was just starting to apply in my program and life.

At the workshop in 2017. Tanya is wearing the straw hat! (photo: Courtney Ley Photography)

Everyone made me feel at home right away, and everyone felt the same excitement I did. You could see it on their faces and feel it in the room.

But halfway through the first day, I was a bit perplexed. I had assumed we’d be learning about gardening, composting, recycling, nature, and earth-friendly practices. That is what sustainability meant to me. (I confided in a new friend at lunch and he was as perplexed as I was.)

But I decided not to analyze, and just to enjoy every moment, and learn whatever was offered. From the surroundings, to the food, to the people, this place was magical in every way.  

On the last day, with time to reflect, I found that I’d learned that sustainability means SO much more, and that it has so many levels. I learned that community means so much more than I ever thought possible. That what I thought about my “neighborhood” was very close-minded. That my community is a part of my life and that everyone in it is important.

Most of all, I learned how to teach all of this to the future generations.

It took over three weeks to digest what I had learned during those powerful days. The workshop completely rewired my old ways of thinking. I wanted to do everything at once! But I started to write my plans, goals, and priorities down, and I started my new sustainability curriculum.

I spent the rest of the summer and fall on long adventure walks with my children -- exploring, sitting quietly, creating anything and everything with things we found outdoors. The children and I had wonderful new, magical moments. I’ve been reminded what nature looks like through a child’s eyes.       

Children playing outdoors during a day at daycare. (photo: Tanya)
The children have also become a large part of the garden and kitchen, because it no longer scares me! We picked, dried, dehydrated, packaged, and shared our bounty with family, friends, and neighbors. Over seven months, using raw sheep’s wool from the workshop, we washed, dried, carded, and made wool dryer balls for each family. We’re also adding a chicken coop to the backyard! The children are so excited!

Children gardening outdoors at Tanya's daycare center. (photo: Tanya)

Children sharing a healthy, family style meal. (photo: Sarah Webb)

I look through new eyes at my community. At the workshop, I was encouraged to be fully present: to listen, reflect, then respond. That is a huge task for my personality type! Now when we are on walks, the kids and I are mindful as we engage with postmen, store owners, or construction workers. We have lovely chats with neighbors from different areas of the world, even with language barriers. I have more walking field trips planned!

I am so excited to be part of the 2018 alumni weekends. I am already thinking how wonderful it will be to see everyone, and be back at the magical place where it all began.

Tanya and daycare children. (photo: Sarah Webb)


Submitted by Peju Okungbowa on Tue , 05/22/2018 - 06:42 PM

What an inspiring experience! I'm so happy that Tanya is teaching sustainability skills to the future generation through fun and engaging activities. Bravo!

Shelburne Farms is truly a magical place...

Submitted by Tanya Weinert on Fri , 05/25/2018 - 01:27 PM

Thank you for capturing the great parts of my lengthy "thank you note" to Shelburne Farms! I was so excited to see my program featured in the blog and in the summer catalog! The children and parents just beamed seeing themselves/their children in print! We are really enjoying tending our gardens and the new chickens I have added to my sustainability curriculum. The children are continuing to learn and grow in their sustainable thinking/actions and will teach others! I can't say it enough, thank you Shelburne Farms for your amazing educational experiences!

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