Jerry Maravetz profile
How did you end up a volunteer at Frying Pan's Kidwell Farm?
I'd visited the park with my grandchildren and thought it was a wonderful place. Then in 2001, I saw an ad in the paper for volunteers so I came out to see what it was all about, and I'm still here!
What caught your attention?
The machinery. I heard staff talking about fixing various farm machinery, and I thought, "I can do that." I used to help my dad with our equipment, and it all came back to me. My first project here was a one-horse-drawn drill used to plant wheat and other grasses - second crops - between the corn rows. I got that drill working again! This is a very relaxed and friendly place. The staff lets me pick and choose as far as which machinery to repair. It brings me back to my youth. When I restore that old farm equipment, I restore myself right along with it.
Your favorite part of volunteering?
The hayrides, because I get the opportunity to talk with the kids and I really enjoy that. But I'm not sure they believe all my stories! I point out the four-room Floris School and tell them that's three more rooms than my school had. We had one room and one teacher for first through eighth grade. No electricity and we had to go to the farm next door for water. They just can't imagine going to a school like that. But I explain it wasn't so bad because anything you didn't learn in first and second grade, you could pick up in third and fourth!
The most important thing children get from a visit to the farm?
An introduction to the animals. A lot of kids have never seen some of these animals before.
My volunteer work gives me something to look forward to. It occupies my time. I get to meet people, and I get to see the enjoyment on the faces of the children. It's great to see them experience what a farm is all about. And it's also rewarding to see the old farm equipment in operation again.
Jerry Maravetz was born on a family farm in Iowa, one of six children who grew up helping cultivate and harvest crops and care for dairy cows, hogs, sheep, chicken and geese. He left country living behind to serve his country, spending 22 years in the U.S. Navy as a cryptologic technician in the Naval Security Group, and then after his retirement he put in another 15 years as a civilian working as the civilian deputy inspector general for the Naval Security Group Command. He's been a volunteer at Frying Pan Park's Kidwell Farm for almost three years, repairing farm machinery, driving the tractor for hayrides and sharing stories from his Midwest childhood to give kids of today a picture of what life was like yesterday down on the farm.