Volunteerism & Learning at Red Wiggler

Red Wiggler relies heavily on volunteer participation not only for production, but for mutual learning opportunities.

 “By having folks working side by side and often pairing people up, they’re both learning from each other,” said Molly McCracken, education and outreach coordinator. “A lot of youth have never experienced working with someone with developmental disabilities and have a lot of different kinds of preconceived notions about what that might be like or what the person might be capable of.”

On a September morning, staff members worked alongside a half dozen volunteers from a nearby engineering firm.

“Through the volunteerism, it’s a very included environment,” said Woodroof. “You often don’t know who’s got a disability and who doesn’t. Our role is to set (the growers) up as teachers and mentors.”

The experience can be especially transformative for the younger volunteers.

Last year, one enthusiastic intern got the National Honor Society at her high school to adopt the farm as their charity. Every holiday last fall, she brought a group of kids out to do some volunteer work.

That young woman is currently studying agriculture at Cornell University.

“She’s really kind of had her whole plan for her life changed from being here,” Junghans said, “It’s just amazing the few that really just take to it so much and kind of adopt us and keep coming.” 

About the Author: Terri Carr is a Washington, DC yogi and writer. She blogs at Yoga Soulutions.