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  • Bethany Burke

A Note from Our New Operations Manager!


Hi, everyone! My name is Bethany Burke, and I am the new Operations Manager at the Somerville Community Growing Center! I am so excited to join the team and meet everyone involved. I’ve lived in Somerville for the past five years, having lived in Medford for two years prior to that. Beginning in 2018, I worked part-time at Bow Market and it was then that I was introduced to the Union Square community. I found myself returning to the market and the surrounding neighborhood and area even when not at work, drawn to Somerville because of the myriad of festivals, welcoming community, and rich culture here - a big part of why I love living in Somerville.


How did I get here? As you may know, the Center's strategic planning from the last 18 months has indicated the need for increased staffing to support the wide range of free programs and initiatives that we offer free of charge to the public, largely through meticulous volunteer engagement. The 20 hour per week Operations Manager position was therefore created to help fill that gap, to organize and support the Center's administrative operations - a staffing resource that the organization has never before had.


The Operations Manager position puts me at the helm of three major aspects of the Growing Center: Volunteer management, operations and administration, and communications. This means I will oversee all volunteer outreach and coordination, facilitating and activating our energetic volunteer corps to help lead projects, programs, and initiatives; all back-end administrative upkeep such as our contacts database, shared drive and all project/program documentation; and all external communications for the Growing Center. This encompasses our newsletter, website, blog, social media and all community outreach efforts, as well.


The beauty of this new position providing more staff hours than we have ever been able to have in the past is that I'm expected (and excited) to spend several hours per week on-site.


Me and Mickey after finishing the NH half marathon!
Me on a hike in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah!

A little bit about my professional background: I attended undergrad at Worcester Polytechnic Institute where, I studied Biochemistry and Psychological Sciences. After graduating, I went on to become a project manager at a life sciences market research company, where I worked for about eight years. In 2023, I moved into the non-profit space and became the volunteer coordinator for The Nature Connection, an organization that brings nature to individuals with limited access. I currently work at The Nature Connection half-time and was looking for an additional half-time position when I came across the Operations Manager role at the Growing Center. It seemed like the perfect fit as I have experience in operations management, a strong interest in nature and community building, and a love for the Union Square community.


Additionally, I am currently pursuing my Masters in Public Health at UMass Lowell (I’m expected to graduate in the spring – yay!). Specifically, I am studying social and behavioral health.  Through my education there, I’ve learned how important greenspace, community and belonging are to our overall health. I was very drawn to the mission of the Growing Center and was intrigued to be part of an inclusive organization that supports community building through ecological education and exploration. I think nature and community are two of the most powerful and healing aspects of life and to me, the Growing Center seems to encapsulate these values to the fullest. Over the next year, I hope to learn as much as possible about the Growing Center, help to streamline processes and communications and work as much as possible with our wonderful volunteers!


In my free time, I enjoy running, traveling, playing soccer, skiing and being with friends and family. My husband, Mickey, and I have a goal to run a half marathon in every state. This personal project has taken us to many beautiful natural environments and unique communities. Some of our favorite races were in Bryce Canyon, UT; the Outer Banks, NC; Denver, CO; and Philadelphia, PA! We are running in Connecticut this April - our 21st state!


I’m so happy to be working in Union Square again, and with the Growing Center. I cannot wait to meet everyone and get more involved!


Feel free to reach out and say hello! I can be reached at bethany@thegrowingcenter.org. Otherwise, see you in the garden!


-Bethany Burke



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