One morning a week, former lawyer and teacher’s aide Kelly Matiasevich, 48, drops off her daughter at school, then heads directly to Hidden Villa, where she volunteers as a Farm Tour Guide for schoolchildren at the educational, organic farm and nature area in Los Altos Hills.
“It’s the day I look forward to the most,” Matiasevich said.
On occasion, the night before her tours, Matiasevich has been known to whisper to her husband, “I get to go to the farm tomorrow!”
Matiasevich, with her husband, Luke, and two children, John and Mary, moved to the Bay Area in 2005 for her husband’s work at eBay. Matiasevich then became a teacher’s aide at her children’s elementary school, where she accompanied students on field trips to Hidden Villa five years in a row.
“I looked forward to that trip every year,” she said.
Now that Matiasevich’s children are nearly grown, she wanted to volunteer.
“I enjoy volunteering in the community,” she said. “I immediately thought of Hidden Villa.”
Getting children excited about the outdoors in the hope they may begin to enjoy and care about nature, teaching science standards and bringing awareness of their food sources are some of the program’s goals.
“I love showing kids where food comes from and introducing them to the farm animals. That makes me excited,” said Matiasevich about her year of leading tours for the younger children.
A perk for Matiasevich is working with the Hidden Villa interns.
As a former English teacher in Japan who was impacted by the kindness of others when she was far from home, Matiasevich likes to check on the interns and bring them treats.
“I often arrive early to talk with them and see how things are going,” she said.
Some Hidden Villa volunteers also bring the science-based, hands-on learning to older schoolchildren. But Matiasevich’s favorite participants are the youngest visitors.
“I think the garden is my favorite part of the tour,” she said. “They’ve probably never even seen a carrot come from the ground. It’s humorous. It’s fun. And they’re learning.”
Formerly a “puppy raiser” of three years for Guide Dogs for the Blind, Matiasevich is a dog enthusiast; volunteers at a school cafeteria; enjoys hiking with friends and likes yoga, Pilates and working out; and is dedicated to her children and their activities.
Matiasevich said she hopes others will consider volunteering at Hidden Villa, “because you get to interact with kids, be outside and work with amazing people.”
Hidden Villa has scheduled an open house for potential volunteers 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Aug. 3 and an orientation session 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sept. 7 at Hidden Villa, 26870 Moody Road, Los Altos Hills.
If visitors subsequently decide they want to volunteer, all necessary training is provided free of charge. No experience is required.