about fit to garden

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Gardening Accessible to Everyone

By modifying techniques and using adaptive equipment and assistive technology, gardening is something everyone can do! Partnering with licensed Occupational Therapists, Assistive Technology Specialists, and Occupational Therapy graduate students allows people with disabilities to break down barriers to gardening so that they can break ground and get gardening!

Gardening With Master Gardeners

Partnering with Master Gardeners brings expertise and the latest in science-based knowledge. 

Gardening as a Social Activity

Fit To Garden is a group gardening program because we all benefit when we come together to work collaboratively. Activities are designed to be fun and free lunch is even included!

Gardening as Part of a Healthy Lifestyle

Exercise is part of the weekly program, but we'll also work on ways to reduce stress, decrease pain, and eat healthier. 

Format

Fit To garden will be conducted once a week from Feb to May. Participants are asked to commit to the duration of the program to get the full benefit from participating in this garden program. You'll be able to set personal goals and track your progress. 

About Fit to Garden's developer

Beth Fisher, Program Developer

  

Beth Fisher, OTR/L is an occupational therapist who created the Fit to Garden program and is launching its pilot run in Newmarket, NH in the spring of 2020. She is a graduate of Cornell University (BA, Biological Sciences) and the University of New Hampshire (MS, Occupational Therapy and Graduate Certificate in Assistive Technology). Beth is also a Certified Aging in Place Specialist through the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) and National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and has a specialization in Home Modifications (through AOTA). She currently works for Future in Sight doing vision rehabilitation and for Northeast Rehabilitation Hospital in addition to running four community based groups for UNH.


Beth comes to occupational therapy from a helicopter background, having been one of the Marine Corps’ first female pilots. She flew the UH-1N "Huey" helicopter and earned the prestigious Weapons and Tactics Instructor designation that established her as a subject matter expert of her craft. Interested in the science of safety, Beth also pursued formal training and certification in aviation safety management and risk analysis at the Navy’s Postgraduate School. While on active duty she completed four overseas deployments including Operation Iraqi Freedom. She then transitioned to the Reserves where she continued to serve her community and challenge herself by flying medical and rescue helicopters for Air Methods Corporation in some of the country’s most challenging terrain and weather—the mountains and deserts of Arizona, Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming. Curiosity over the fate of the ill and injured she transported led Beth to leverage her biology background and pursue a career in occupational therapy. 


As a disabled veteran herself, she is excited to work on behalf of veterans' causes and with all people with disabilities. In June 2018, Beth retired from the Marine Corps.  

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About The TEAM

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Jillian McCalvey, OTS

  

Jillian is a senior in UNH’s Occupational Therapy Master of Science program. She grew up in New Boston, NH and after high school she served in AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), where she was part of a team of young people leading community service projects in various communities.  Her service fostered her love of helping individuals and communities on projects they find meaningful. 

When she’s not working, you an find her skiing at Pats Peak, hiking, or road biking. In 2018, Jillian was able to combine her passion for biking and her love of service by participating in the Bike and Build program where she biked across the country to raise money and awareness for affordable housing. 

Jillian is excited to work with the Fit to Garden Program this spring and has always enjoyed gardening with her mother. Says Jillian “I can’t wait to learn alongside the group members this spring, finding adaptive ways to make gardening fun and accessible to everyone.”

Maura Walbourne, OTS

  

Maura Walbourne is currently perusing her masters within the Occupational Therapy program at UNH. She comes from a public health background, having graduated from Coastal Carolina University (CCU) in 2017. Before her time at UNH, Maura worked for a nonprofit organization in Jutlicalpa, Honduras as an ESOL teacher. While attending CCU, Maura was employed by the school’s LIFE program. As a transition program for young adults who have mild to moderate intellectual and/or development disabilities, Maura assisted students in their full integration within the campus community, both academically and socially. She spent the last three years working within the community with several homeowners associations and property managers.

Maura developed a great love of all thing’s nature as a child. When Maura is back home in South Carolina, she spends most of her free time on the river canoeing and camping. Having grown up watching her mother and grandmother produce colorful gardens season after season, she started her own garden three years ago, and is thrilled to be able to add to her gardening knowledge through Fit to Garden. While interning with SOS Health Care Inc., Maura had the opportunity to participate in horticultural sessions where she fell in love with gardening in group settings. She is excited to build upon this experience and help develop a future gardening program for all to enjoy.

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Cris Blackstone

 Cris Blackstone maintains her NH Landscape Association certification and serves as the Education Coordinator for that association. Her affiliation with the UNH Cooperative Extension includes being a Natural Resources Steward and Master Gardener. Cris is involved in conservation issues through serving on the Newmarket Conservation Commission, the Rockingham County Conservation District and the NH Association of Conservation Commissions. As a member of the Garden Writers of America, she serves on their national Sustainability Committee. She travels to public gardens, various arboretum events, and enjoys amateur photography during those travels. With her family, she‘s growing herbs and flowers both outdoors and in their high tunnels on their micro-farm. Cris offers workshops and presentations about plants; and recently became involved with a community radio program, “The Environmental Hour” as a co-host. She’s thrilled to be a part of “Fit to Garden,” supporting the Occupational Therapy instructors and participants as they jump in to this wellness program, with plants as a featured part of the program each week.