At 10 years old, farm hand Dylan Jacques-Fero got his first bee sting at Natick Community Organic Farm (NCOF), but that didn’t drive him away! Dylan is a long-time NCOF team member. He visited the Farm for the first time as a second grader on a field trip with his class from Lilja Elementary School. He recalls being eager to go to the Farm, showing an innate curiosity for the workings of this wonderful place. After having a blast on the field trip, he began participating in the organization’s educational programs. He explains, “Working with vegetables allowed me to learn and appreciate how delicate plant life is. It is the habitat for most animals and it’s important to treat it with respect – on the farm, or in nature.” Now, at the age of 22, Dylan is using his photography skills and knowledge of wildlife to create a field guide of the Farm’s vast variety of species.
There is a high amount of biodiversity that exists on the Farm, making it an ideal environment for Dylan’s photography. He’s had an interest in wildlife photography for as long as he can remember. As a child, Dylan was introduced to the famous Jacques Cousteau’s books, which fascinated him and sparked his interest in working with wildlife. He is now using that affinity for wild animals, and helping pass on the curiosity to the next generation. Recently, Dylan was a guest speaker for a homeschool group at NCOF, leading a lesson on bugs of the Farm. Despite being asked to fill in for someone last minute, he managed to run a class where they found over 20 species of insects! He explains that one participant “started the class a little bit uninterested and kind of afraid of bugs… but at the end, he caught 3 or 4 kinds of grasshoppers and was really into it.” Dylan looks forward to assisting more of NCOF’s educational programs in the future, especially in the spring when life blooms at the Farm.
When asked what his favorite wild animal he’s found at NCOF is, it was clearly not an easy question for him to answer. He settled on two animals – it was between a Four-lined plant bug, and Red finned pickerel, found in the stream that runs through the Farm. While there are plenty of books on the farm to identify the variety of species we see in Eastern North America, Dylan sees his guide-in-progress as an opportunity to hone in on what species have been observed on the conservation land of NCOF. That way, when visitors find an animal they want to identify, they can do so by searching through Dylan’s guide which will give them a more accurate idea of what they might find.
Dylan’s wildlife guide is a work in progress. He says, “I will be working with the NCOF social media team to host it somewhere, either on NCOF’s website or link to it somewhere.” He also plans to make a physical copy of the guide, so those without a phone or computer on them can still take a look. If you have any photos of wildlife on the farm, please send them to Dylan at [email protected] You might have the chance for your photo to be featured in the guide!