As I write this final blog, I am on my final GEC trip! Though I am excited to embark on my future goals, it is a sad realization that my fourth summer at NatureFresh™ has come to an end. Over the course of the summer I have traveled to 11 states, all the way from Arkansas to Massachusetts, and all around my home province of Ontario. During my employment on the GEC I have learned many valuable lessons, visited several extraordinary places, and met some very memorable people.
Lessons I Will Take with Me Forever
As a member of the GEC team it is apparent that the first thing you learn is communication skills. Talking with a variety of people with different backgrounds really teaches you to adapt the conversations accordingly. I found this especially useful when talking to children, which has not been something I have excelled at in the past. Getting children enthused about produce and healthy eating is something that I am now passionate about and it is very rewarding to see them sharing in that passion with me.
A second lesson I learned was teamwork. Although many of the stories told about the GEC are very positive, there are a few moments that come along with long days that are not. After six hours on our feet in the hot sun it takes a total team effort to support each other through the remaining three hours. Keeping a positive team morale is something that kept our team in high spirits during some of our toughest days. Many times, technical errors on the trailer frustrated each of us, however we always knew we had each other to lean on. Aside from exhausting hot days and technical errors it was also excellent to have a team from such diverse backgrounds: if one team member was unable to answer a question, a second was always willing to jump in to help. Occasionally, it took all five of us to combat one hefty conversation riddled with questions!
Some Extraordinary Places the GEC Took Me
My favorite location that I have been with on the GEC has to be Arkansas. If anyone knows me, they know I absolutely LOVE warm weather. Now let me tell you Arkansas was a dose of heat that I have never experienced before! However, after a blistering hot 104-degree work day it was difficult to come back to Canada. Not only did I fall in love with the heat, but with the fantastic people and the fun activities we participated in. While we were there, we visited the very first Walmart (now a fascinating museum: read more about it in Cole’s previous blog). In addition, it was quite the adventure having the whole team (including Mr. Herman) for the lengthy 14-hour drive. Being all together allowed us to make some interesting stops, one even to the gateway arch! (If you don’t know what that is I highly recommend a quick google search, it is very neat!).
My second favorite location was the Ohio State Fair in Columbus. Obviously, the fair itself was an amazing experience with people ranging from advanced agricultural backgrounds to none at all. One of the highlights of this trip was the opportunity to partake in my first helicopter ride! The flight was truly incredible, and it was also interesting to see the fair from above and to watch my coworkers interact below. Overall the fair was also one of our busiest GEC tours which kept the team on our toes and never leaving a dull moment.
Many of the other places we have traveled such as New York and Massachusetts have surprised me with their beautiful scenery. As a biology student, I love the look of largely forested areas and these states did not disappoint. Specifically, I was amazed by the diversity found in the state of Virginia: I felt as though each turn on the road brought me to a new landscape, keeping the 14-hour trip very interesting.
Finally, I am aware that as a Canadian I have not mentioned any locations in Ontario. This is due to the fact that many of the Ontario locations I have traveled to personally already. This did not make the people any less memorable or the landscape less astounding. As much as I do enjoy the many states I have traveled to, I believe I will remain in Canada for quite awhile.
Neat People I Will Never Forget
As my summer rolled on, I had the opportunity to meet some amazing individuals. After working in the pack-house for the past three summers it was excellent to finally meet the NatureFresh™ sales team behind the orders I was involved in packing. Moreover, it was also great to meet people from the farm, this allowed me to really connect all the work that is actually put into creating the produce found in the grocery store. This also aided in the relationships NatureFresh™ forms with its customers by having those separate viewpoints on the scene of the GEC. I found this especially true when members from our Delta facilities were able to come out and share their input on the NatureFresh™ growing process. Although these people all influenced my thinking in many different ways, I always hoped that after a GEC tour they felt that they learned a little from our GEC family.
Over the summer the GEC team has had amazing bonding opportunities that allowed us to create a very tight knit crew. I will forever be thankful for my GEC team members and all they have taught me. I hope that everyone finds someone as bubbly as Brittany, as charismatic as Mitch, as helpful as Noah, and as genuine as Cole. For me, this summer on the GEC tour I have been given innumerable memories and countless friendships that I will treasure forever.
Over and out,