My Time at AntFarm

A Journey of Love

Hello AntFarm!

My name is Claudia, and I have been with AntFarm for around 18 months. I arrived in the U.S. March 13, 2020 a few hours before they closed the borders and will be heading back to Germany at the end of September. I want to take some time to share what it means to work at AntFarm.

AntFarm is a family with a vision to see all people healthy, live with purpose, and contribute to community well-being. At AntFarm, every day looks different. As we have so many different locations, programs, and people, we are constantly in a process of movement and change. While I am checking emails, or joining a zoom meeting or webinar, I am also meeting with my colleagues to plan our next events or youth program. If community members show up, we will be there to chat with them and support them right away. In crisis, everybody at AntFarm steps up and helps each other. Due to the pandemic the possible in person connections were limited, and still, every connection that was able to be made was great.

As I am originally from Germany, I can only compare my job at AntFarm with previous positions in Germany, Europe. As an Occupational Therapist, I worked in clinical settings at times, and I believe that AntFarm's concept is the true way of practicing Occupational Therapy to help our youth to become healthy and contributing members of our community.

During my time at AntFarm, I was entrusted with the position of the Youth Services Manager. During a worldwide pandemic, that meant shifting from in person connections to Google Classroom and Zoom to support the youth of our community in the best possible way. This year we were able to go back in person and successfully carry through our Summer Work Program, which taught 62 youth about work readiness skills through hands on training and curriculum. Being able to see how these youth benefit from the experience and leave this program with more knowledge, skills, and new meaningful peer connections is the best part of this work.

Besides that, I developed and facilitated the Sandy Prevention Network as the Local Project Coordinator to prevent Youth Alcohol and Marijuana Use in Sandy. Our Vision is to create an inviting atmosphere for all youth and a healthy environment filled with valuable activities and opportunities. To achieve this goal, we started working with the members of our community and developed a variety of strategies and activities for the youth in Sandy.

As an Occupational Therapist, I always believed in opportunities for the youth that consist of hands on experiences in a real-life setting. AntFarm is a unique setting where youth are being seen from a holistic perspective and uses an approach that supports their individual needs and interests. Instead of separating, AntFarm is inclusive and always seeks to connect the youth with our community.

A recent project I was a part of was our Latino Festival on Saturday 09/25 at Sandy Vista Apartments. As part of the Sandy Prevention Network and in cooperation with my dear colleague Cristina Diaz, who is leading our Nuevo Futuro Latinx program, we planned a festival in honor of the National Hispanic Heritage Month. This festival contained music, free food provided by AntFarm Youth Services, free games and books for the kids, and so much more. It was a great success and showed me again how we can bring the members of our community together in a united effort to create something beautiful. The Might of One, The Power of Many is what this event proved to me again!

I am proud and grateful that I was able to be part of such a great movement. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to work at a unique organization like AntFarm Youth Services. I've learned a lot during my time here: about myself, about other cultures, and about new ways of helping our communities. I will never forget my time here in Sandy, Oregon, and I am excited to see what the future holds for AntFarm Youth Services.