Tue07292014

Community

Hidden Villa volunteer rediscovers fountain of youth as a tour guide


Laurie Aubuchon/Special to the Town Crier
Hidden Villa volunteer Peter Thurston crawls through The Rabbit Hole, one of the few guides to attempt passage through the small space. The tunnel allows visiting children to enter the farm’s organic Education Garden.

Being a kid again is one of the benefits Peter Thurston, 73, enjoys about volunteering at Hidden Villa. The retired marketing programs director at IBM Storage Systems joined the Hidden Villa Board of Trustees in 2009.

In his role as Hidden Villa farm and nature guide, Thurston teaches schoolchildren from all over the Bay Area about the nonprofit educational farm and wilderness area located in Los Altos Hills.

While his enthusiasm about the job is not unique among Hidden Villa guides, on occasion his method of entry into the organic Education Garden is. Scooting on his belly, using his forearms and feet to propel himself forward, he has delighted children by crawling through a diminutive portal called The Rabbit Hole – a child-sized tunnel into the garden.

Exploring the surrounding hills, Thurston said he strives to make the children comfortable.

“We focus on making the kids fall in love with nature,” he said. “They fall in love, and then they learn.”

Guides promote the connection by hiking and playing games with the children as they facilitate farm experiences.

“Every time I’m done with a tour, I really feel good,” Thurston said.

Residents of Los Altos Hills for 43 years, Thurston, his wife Carol and their three now-grown children have enjoyed many walks at Hidden Villa.

“My wife had them all go to camp here,” Thurston said of Hidden Villa’s summer camps.

Thurston also contributes his time at Environmental Volunteers and Filoli, but his Hidden Villa experience is special.

“Being on the board is a real honor,” he said, “but being with the kids is a real joy. I’ve never had a bad day here. I really haven’t.”

Hidden Villa invites potential volunteer guides to observe an upcoming school tour 8:15 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Jan. 24 at the preserve, 26870 Moody Road, Los Altos Hills. Call 949-8643 prior to joining the tour.

If visitors subsequently decide to volunteer, all necessary training is provided free of charge. No experience is required.

For more information, call 949-8643 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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