February 2024 at ThorpeWood

Welcome to our February newsletter! As we revel in the first warm days of March, which brought the sounds of spring peepers back to the farm, let’s take a look at what we were up to last month.

In staff news, this month we welcomed Sam Whalen to the team as our new Facilities Manager. Sam comes to us with a wealth of experience from different fields that make him an excellent fit to keep our buildings running smoothly and looking beautiful. Welcome to the team, Sam! We’re delighted to have you. 

February started out with an uplifting experience with our professional community of environmentalists. On the 2nd, Executive Director Kaili, Community Liaison Tim, and Farm Manager Clare attended Mobilize Frederick’s second annual Climate Summit at Hood College. We shared about ThorpeWood’s work, forged new relationships, and learned all about Frederick County’s efforts to address the climate crisis. 

Our community event this month was our second winter tree identification workshop on Feb. 3rd, brought back by popular demand. Foresters Dakota and Bob from the Maryland Forest Service graced us with their expertise and shared the clues they use to identify trees when there is no leafy foliage to rely on. Furrows, lenticels, and ski tracks galore! Thanks to all who came out to work on this challenging skill and enjoy the natural world with us. 

Our pilot Healing Ourselves & Our Planet (HOOP) climate grief support and activism group launched on February 6th and continues weekly. With 12 people in attendance (our registration max!), our members come from an array of backgrounds, but share a deep commitment to being agents of healing amid the climate crisis. Weekly discussions so far have focused on: viewing the ecological crisis through a grief theory lens, building emotion regulation skills, practicing mindfulness and self-care, and exploring difficult climate emotions such as eco-anxiety. This group has already demonstrated its commitment to doing the “internal activism” required to sustain meaningful external activism in the fight against climate change. It’s an honor to be shepherding this incredible inaugural group.

At the farm, we welcomed 2024’s first group of on-site program participants! We are grateful to partner with FCPS counselors and social workers of CASS to bring a new cohort of middle school students to ThorpeWood for ecotherapy programming. For their introductory visit, students engaged in team-building activities and met the farm animals for the first time. We look forward to diving deeper, growing a sense of belonging, and fostering mental health skill-building as the students return once a month for the rest of the school year. 

Over the snowy weekend of February 16th-18th, The Umbrella Project took over the farm for their Winter Basecamp Program. Supported by Umbrella Project leaders, a group of 8 grieving young women shared meals, created art, talked about their grief, laughed, cried, played with goats, hiked in the snow, learned coping and emotion regulation skills, and made cherished memories to carry forward as they continue on their grief journeys. 

On February 21, we launched the first iteration of ThorpeWood’s Nature on Tap speaker series at the Frederick Social. Many thanks to Paul Kazyak for giving a thought-provoking talk on the climate debate from the perspective of stakeholders, science, and human behavior. Stay tuned for more Nature on Tap announcements coming soon! Finishing up the month, ThorpeWood welcomed the ManKind Project to the Homestead House for their weekend of group programming. 

We hope everyone is enjoying the hopeful beginnings of spring! Happy March!

Until next month,

The Team at ThorpeWood