“It Changed Me, For Sure” – A Farm Kid Reflects on Life Lessons in Landscaping

Stacy Toland. Photo by Jake Lynch/BRHS

 

It’s probably a fair bet to say not everyone would reflect on their work as a gardener and landscaper and think in terms of life-altering changes in perspective.

But not everyone has had the experiences Stacy Toland has.

For 13 years Stacy ran a small garden maintenance crew for Ace Total Maintenance, a business under the Noweyung umbrella that provides training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

“It changed me, for sure,” Stacy says. “It changed my attitude a lot.”

Stacy admits that when she started, she had little experience with or understanding of people with disabilities or the issues and challenges they faced.

The experience of the coming years had a profound impact on her, part of a tight-knit, 5-person crew that she says soon became “like family to me.”

“It changed me, for sure,” she says. “It changed my attitude a lot. You know, everyone has good days and bad days, but working with people whose challenges were different from mine really gave me a new perspective on everything.”

Stacy’s unique mix of work and life experiences make her the perfect fit for BRHS, so we were thrilled when she joined our maintenance and landscaping crew recently. (A one-man team has become a two-person team!)

You can tell as soon as you meet her that Stacy is one of those people that can probably fix anything, and doesn’t mind rolling up the sleeves.

“I was a farm kid. Driving the ute as soon as I could reach the pedals.”

“I was a farm kid,” she said, describing her upbringing on a rural property in Omeo, with two older brothers. “Driving the ute as soon as I could reach the pedals. Always playing around with the tractors and machinery.”

Since then, Stacy says, she’s always been an outdoor person, and she has managed to forge a career working in the greatest office space there is.

These days you can find her around the grounds at BRHS, pulling pots and repairing a fence – whatever the landscape throws at her each day.

(Her tip for budding gardeners out there: plant lots of natives. “They look great all the time, they’re hardy, and you don’t have to mow as much grass.”)