POSTED BY: KEELEY
I’ve always been a very independent learner. As a toddler, I immediately loved books. I enjoyed being read to, but as soon as I learned how to read, I would rather take a big stack of books to bed with me, or into some comfy corner, and read non stop.
Here I am at age 3, happily reading to my older brother, Brock. (Whether I was reading the actual words on the page or just making up my own story is up for debate.)
My family moved 5 times before I was 13. As we relocated, and as my learning style evolved, I attended public schools, private schools, charter school, and homeschooled.
Of all of the options, I loved homeschooling the most. I went through several elementary school years without a single math class, choosing instead to read, paint and swim in my backyard pool. I tried horseback riding lessons, theatre, piano, soccer, hockey, fencing — if you can name an extracurricular, I probably tried it between the ages of 6 and 12.
Looking back on this awesome period in my life, I realize how lucky I was to have parents who paid close attention to my learning style and just let me be — knowing that if I was pursuing a passion that it would all work out.
Here I am at age 7, beginning my homeschooling career in Kentucky. I spent most of my time reading, swimming, rollerblading and hanging out with my best friend — our black lab, Ducky.
Upon moving to Oregon the summer before 9th grade, I chose to return to public school. While I loved the social and athletic aspects of high school, I accredit most of my academic and creative success to my years spent “un-schooling”.
Spending all that free time pursuing random projects I found interesting (regardless of whether or not they were going to be on a future standardized test) taught me the joy of self-driven learning. High school always felt like a game — a set of hoops to jump through to build your college application or get a good letter grade. It was a game I excelled at, but a game nonetheless.
At the University of Oregon, I chose a Journalism major with an Art minor (after all, my favorite parts of high school were Newspaper club and painting). Despite my excitement for those subject areas, college classes weren’t as inspiring to me as I had hoped, especially as I began to wade through some of the less intellectually stimulating prerequisite courses.
I wasn’t too upset about the lack of homework though… all the more time to have fun on campus with Erika, my new roommate!
When Wild Squirrel came along a year later, the homeschooler within me rejoiced. After six years of jumping through the hoops of assignments and due dates, I was finally pursuing a project just for the fun of it!
Ever since that fateful day last February, Erika and I have been learning non-stop. It started out with little things like finding small business insurance and seeking out a suitable commercial kitchen. Now, we spend our time on more complicated pursuits, such as analyzing cash flow spreadsheets and working on our business plan. Every day we do something different, which is both a challenge and a joy.
Seeing our peanut butter on the shelf for the first time — look at those happy faces. I think this might have been the first time anyone had asked a New Seasons employee to take their photo in front of the peanut butter.
Erika and I feel strongly that Wild Squirrel has been so successful because it is a company started totally organically — starting with a genuine passion for food and nutrition.
We didn’t start a company because someone told us to, or because we wanted to look better on paper for college, or to build a resume for some future internship. We founded Wild Squirrel simply because we believed we had made an unparalleled peanut butter — and we wanted to share it.
Before Wild Squirrel came along, Erika and I couldn’t truly appreciate how exciting learning can be when it is 100% self motivated. While finishing our University degrees definitely remains on our “To-Do” Lists, Erika and I are so excited to know that meanwhile there is a lot left to learn in the world of business.