There is an ancient writing wherein one of the main players, thee Main Player for many, upon His exit from this earthly realm exhorted his followers to “occupy ‘til I come.” So for the past 55 years I have occupied myself in more fields than anyone I know in both paid and volunteer situations; sometimes successfully, sometimes not.
The claim is not an exaggeration and if space, or interest, allowed I could catalogue about three quarters of those situations, the remainder are lost in the mists of time. But for now let me expound a bit about two of those local volunteer positions.
For the past three years, I have been a volunteer for Farm Day. This event is sponsored by the folks of Monterey County Agricultural Education (MCAE), which is a nonprofit organization made up of ag people, educators and many others whose sole purpose is to bring home the fact that agriculture is mighty important to the economy and the culture here in our little Valley. One way they do this is through education about the many aspects of agriculture and the best way to educate young people, in this case third-grade students, is in an on-site, hands-on classroom and this MCAE provides.
The three Farm Days each year are held on the Monterey County Fairgrounds, the California Rodeo grounds and the Salinas Valley Fairgrounds, and each are a cornucopia of agricultural displays from cattle, horses and sheep to various tractors to sheep dogs to plant husbandry and pest/weed control to nutrition to irrigation to … enough. Suffice it to say, it is widely educational in many areas; I never come away without learning something new.
This year Farm Day down here is the morning of Thursday, Jan. 27, at SVF, and as I write this I am again a volunteer, one of 32 who have set aside this day for our youth. But here is the rub, the need is for 80 volunteers this year. That is due to a cancellation last year so to include students who missed out, they — now fourth graders — have been included in the mix, and that makes for a whole lot of little bodies to navigate the many displays.
So, now you see I have an ulterior motive. Farm Day for King City students is eight days from this publication date, and I am sure they will still need help, so if you have a couple hours you can spare to both assist others to learn about agriculture here in Monterey County and learn a few things yourself, then you are just who MCAE needs. It is a rewarding experience working with all the volunteers, teachers and chaperones; plus they usually throw a pretty good feed for us. The information is at montereycountyageducation.org or call Candi DePauw at 831-905-3669. You won’t regret it.
Now that I snuck that little plea for help in, let me continue on to another volunteer opportunity I was able to take advantage of here in South County, and that would be down at the Museum at San Lorenzo Park. The official name of the place is Monterey County Agricultural and Rural Life Museum (MCARLM), which can barely be said in one breath even by opera singers, so the accepted reference is the pronunciation of the acronym sans vowels, hence MCARLM is muhcarlem. Got that? Good. Moving on.
My first association with the place was not long after a Stage Hands show when a fellow thespian, who along with her hubby was also a MCARLM board member, asked if I wouldn’t play the part of a Miner Forty Niner for a youth outreach program and help with a gold panning exhibition; just one of the stops on that day’s little romp through California history. It was wet and cold and messy and very, very rewarding. Kids really respond to hands-on history and this exhibit also included water and shiny nuggets to take home, so it was a real hit.
And so it began. I don’t know right off the top of my head what year that was, so I can’t tell you how long I was a volunteer for the Museum, but it led to board membership and more role playing (I was the La Gloria School master once) and a couple times driving antique tractors in parades down in Paso Robles. All good experiences, but the outstanding times were the weekly workdays with a handful of faithful volunteers where a multitude of projects were accomplished and the monthly board meetings where a multitude of projects were planned. All the people involved in both of these gatherings were just plain fun to be around and even more so during the many public events hosted by the Museum.
Because I have been around South County for awhile, there are certain associations that can and do occasionally happen and this was the case with the lady who was the MCARLM executive director. I am one of the few people outside her family who knew her children’s great-grandparents; knew them well. They were part of the old Fifth Street Gang in Greenfield back in the ’50s and ’60s; he was my barber and his wife one of the Second Mothers on the block, their three kids part of the gang. One of the daughters married a King City boy, son of a fellow KCHS Class of 1970 member, and one of their sons married a Bryson Hesperia girl and in time she became my supervisor. She recently moved on to another managerial position.
My time at the Museum came to an end a couple months ago; like any worthy actor ya gotta know when to get off the stage. I wouldn’t write any more into it than that, nor should anyone else. But I would add this: of the many bosses I’ve had over the years, hands down the best was Jessica Potts. She will be missed.
Take care. Peace.