Ecological Educator:  Susan L. Hedge

Susan Hedge is the ecological educator for the Appalachian Faith and Ecology Center and a GreenFaith Fellow 2010,  Following retirement from the University of Florida’s Extension Service as Lee county Extension Director, she received a master’s degree in pastoral theology from Berry University and worked for the Catholic Diocese of Richmond as an ecological educator in the Appalachian Office of Justice and Peace.  She has divided her time between SW Virginia and For Myers, Florida where her family lives on a ten acre horse ranchette.

Susan is a weaver. In 2016 she was certified as a Weaving a Life Circle Leader, She has created several Story Loom Projects which center on the story of Appalachia and on the natural world.  These are available for groups wishing to build community and create connections to one another and the natural world.

Fiber Experience:

Grandmother was a professional seamstress; Mother sewed all her life and taught Susan to sew. As an Extension Agent Susan taught clothing construction under the direction of a fantastic clothing specialist with the University of Florida. Graduate School majored in Arts, Crafts and Interior Design at the University of Tennessee with one course in weaving. Summer intern at Arrowmont School in Gatlinburg, TN.  Restored old looms donated to the Extension Office. Weaving seriously now for over 10 years; owns four looms, two in Virginia and two in Florida. Regularly participate in the local workshop opportunities, and has attended two HGA Convergences.

Favorite Fibers and Constructions:

My favorites are natural fibers woven in the Overshot structure, but I also love spinning art yarn and including it into rather eclectic designs for clothing. 

Kinds of People: I enjoy working with people who are excited about the creative process and seek it as a reflective experience.

Special Qualities:

Maturity, experience working with people and teaching, ability to intuit the creative experience, ability to design reflective experiences, contemplative approach to life, a value for the unique faith walk for each individual person, contacts with the fiber community in South Florida.

Recent Positions: Ecological Educator, the Appalachian Office of Justice and Peace, Catholic Diocese    of   Richmond, Roanoke, VA 2007—2009. Duties: Education for the Catholic faith community on the seventh tenant of Catholic social teaching:  Caring for God’s Creation.  Coordinated the efforts of the Ecological Working Group. Presented workshops and retreats across the diocese on creation care. Continues this work through the Appalachian Faith & Ecology Center, Inc., since 2009 through present.

In Addition to Susan’s work with Appalachian Faith & Ecology, Inc., she currently holds positions as Weaving Guild President and as Chair of the Environmental Justice Commission for the Catholic Diocese of Venice in Florida. Susan especially likes to teach adults but has recently taken on a 4H sewing project group, “Sewing with SuSue.”

 Professional History: Director, Family Connection Center, Fort Myers, Florida 2006—2007. Directed the activities of a small supervised visitation program for families involved in custody disputes.   County Extension Director, Lee County Office of the Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Fort Myers, Florida 1982–2004 (Retired) Duties: Leadership of a large urban County Extension program with 16 employees and a $500,000 annual budget. Program responsibilities included community leadership development; volunteer   coordination; as well as teaching and supervision of staff in area of parenting and human development.  Extension Agent and Home Economics Program Leader, Lee County Office of the Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Fort Myers, FL  1975-80. Duties: Teaching child development and parenting; family resource management and housing and resource conservation.  Teacher, Public schools in Alabama and Florida, grades 4—12, 1969—72.  Professor of Home Economics, taught Early Childhood Education; Clothing and Textiles; and Housing at Arizona Western College 1967—69.  Assistant Buyer, Ready-to-wear, Hutzler’s Department Store, Baltimore, Maryland, 1965—67

Education:  Grad School M.A. Pastoral Theology, Barry University, Miami, FL June 2005.  Diploma in Pastoral Ministry, Blessed Edmund Rice School, Diocese of Venice in Florida May 2005 (Practicum: Becoming a Better Group Using the Contemplative Dialogue Method, carried out with a volunteer leadership group seeking to address poverty in their rural community). M.S. Family and Consumer Sciences with major in applied arts and crafts, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee 1965. (Thesis:  Successful Marketing of Crafts) Other Education or Training: Completed 3 year Fellowship with GreenFaith, 2010 Completed three years of training in Contemplative Spiritual Companioning, Blessed Edmund Rice School for Pastoral Ministry, Diocese of Venice in Florida 2002 Training workshop, five days, The Path of Contemplative Dialogue, The Yardley Group, Alabama, 2004. Completed 6 hours Fine Art Photography, Edison Community College, Fort Myers, FL 2004.