Kristin Mullen Joins Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden as Early Childhood Program Developer
by Jonah Holland, PR & Marketing Coordinator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
We recently added a staff member to the Children’s Garden, her name is Kristin Mullen. Kristin started as Early Childhood Program Developer earlier this month, after relocating to Richmond. Since our Children’s Garden educators often develop a bit of a celebrity status with the kids, I thought it would be fun for you to get to know her a bit, so when you see her in the Children’s Garden on your next visit you’ll know who she is and you can say “Hi!” I’ve only just recently gotten to know Kristin myself, but from what I can tell she is fun-loving, has a sunny personality & really, really loves her new job at the Garden! Take it away Kristin….
As the Program Developer focused on Early Childhood initiatives within the Children’s Garden, I design and implement innovative programs for our pre-school aged visitors, including Young Buds and Green Adventure summer camps (registration just opened if you are interested!) I create the Kid Quest brochure and button, which is a themed scavenger hunt available to any family who visits the garden. Of course a large part of my role in the Children’s Garden is being a member of the teaching team that presents plant-based programs to learners of all ages. I will also be providing training opportunities for our staff and volunteers on developmentally appropriate strategies for working with young children as well as acting as a liaison between Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden and the Richmond early childhood community. We want to continue to spread the word that the Garden is a wonderful resource for both teachers and parents of young children!
Q: What’s your favorite part of the garden?
A: The Children’s Garden, of course! It is such a creative space for exploration and discovery. I have especially enjoyed teaching under the holly tree (aka the outdoor reading room) because it really seems magical to the kids – as I was walking through the Garden one afternoon I heard one little boy yelling to his mom that she had to come see the secret spot he found under the tree… it’s energizing to witness kids so excited about nature!
Q: Tell us something that surprising about you that (people) your coworkers might not know.
A: I love the smell of skunks! One of my earliest memories is of going to visit my grandparents in Kansas and I was deathly afraid to get out of the car because I was scared of the skunks (I think we had smelled one along the drive). And now I actually roll down the window when we smell them along the highway! Don’t get me wrong, though, I would not want to corner one in a dark alley…
Q: Where did you work before you came to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden?
A: For the past 8 years I worked in the education department at the Virginia Aquarium in Virginia Beach. It was amazing to have access to the beach and boats and animals for teaching, but one of the most rewarding things was watching some of the kids go from participating in our education programs to student volunteering to coming on board as staff members. I hope we had as big of an impact on some of those students who only got to visit us once!
Q: What do you do in your free time?
A: I love sweets and I love to bake them… luckily, I love to go jogging at the crack of dawn before the world wakes up, too! I’m also a big fan of live music, so I’m looking forward to checking out the Groovin’ in the Garden lineup this spring!
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: I grew up in Springfield, Virginia, with two brothers and a sister. Even though we were in the suburbs of DC, we were luckily enough to have parents who sought out a house that backed up to a protected woodland area, so we spent weekends, summers and evenings playing in the woods, fishing in the lake and exploring the stream bed. We didn’t realize how lucky we were!
Q: What part of Richmond do you live in?
A: I live on the southside near Forest Hill Park. It’s the ideal spot – easy access to the biking trails by the river, a short walk to the farmer’s market on Saturday mornings, and a short drive to the shops and restaurants of the Fan and Carytown. And I love the personalities in the neighborhood – every once in a while a young man walks through the alley playing his fiddle like he hasn’t a care in the world. I would love to know his story, but he never even acknowledges that we’re there!