Wed10222014

Community

HV volunteer enjoys camaraderie and banana slugs


Photo By: Laurie Aubuchon/Special to the Town Crier
Photo Laurie Aubuchon/Special To The Town Crier

Volunteer Farm and Nature Guide Mike Blackford looks on as children examine a bug they’ve found in the woods at Hidden Villa.

Mike Blackford, 73, lived conveniently near Hidden Villa in Los Altos Hills until shortly after he retired as a seismologist. But relocating to the East Bay hasn’t stopped him from continuing to volunteer at the organic farm and nature preserve.

As a volunteer Farm and Nature Guide, Blackford leads schoolchildren on tours of Hidden Villa, walking along bucolic trails and exploring the farm.

Blackford said one of his favorite aspects of volunteering at Hidden Villa is the camaraderie among fellow guides.

“You get to be around some very pleasant people,” he said.

His most memorable tours involve times he’s able to point out wildlife to the children.

“I tell my friends that once a week, I get to kiss a banana slug,” Blackford said. “They look at me like I’m out of my mind.”

While guides are not required to touch or kiss banana slugs, Blackford considers himself a connoisseur.

“I never offer (the slug) to kids if it’s sticky,” he said.

Blackford said he’s a regular donor to Hidden Villa, “because I believe in its principles and its cause – environmental education.”

Married to his wife, Charlotte, for 50 years, Blackford is the father of five and grandfather of nine. The Blackfords are avid travelers looking forward to their upcoming small-boat river cruise from Kiev to Odessa. He plays the saxophone and on occasion sees fellow musician and Hidden Villa board member Mike Hamilton at UC Berkeley Marching Band alumni events. Blackford has season tickets to Cal basketball and football, serves as a docent at the San Francisco Academy of Sciences and a farm near his home, volunteers at his church and enjoys genealogy.

Hidden Villa invites potential volunteer guides to observe an upcoming school tour 8:15 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Jan. 22 at 26870 Moody Road, Los Altos Hills. If visitors then decide they want to volunteer, all necessary training is provided free of charge. No experience is required. To RSVP and 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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