Thursday, March 24, 2016

G-Star School of the Arts and Serenity Goats Interview

G-Star School of the Arts in Florida recently conducted a documentary on Serenity Acres Farm. I had a chance to interview George Colavecchio - Creative Director/Events DIrector - G-Star School of the Arts as well as Julia Shewchuk, owner of Serenity Farms, to learn more.

George Colavecchio, G-Star School:

Why did you decide to do a film about Serenity Goats?
We were initially put in touch with Julia and Wayne by Adrienne from the TransMedia Group while working together on another project. Since my “self-imposed” job description is to provide unique opportunities and learning experiences for the student I work with, this seemed a perfect fit. I mean what better than a weekend away from the city filming in a farm environment? 

What surprised you most while you were working on this project?
Everything! Not only was the environment perfect but, usually, when working on any film project there is, at least, some stress. Not so at Serenity Acres! The people, the animals, the information provided and the environmentally friendly methodology made for a wonderful experience all around. Our hosts could not have been more understanding and knowledgeable, the staff of “wwoofers” more friendly, or the “residents” more impressive. The first thing I noticed with my students was an air of relaxation I had rarely seen before. They were, literally, enveloped by their surroundings – smiling from ear to ear every minute we were there - even when working! Leaving was the only difficult part of this project!
What are your favorite things about your school?
The students and the atmosphere at G-Star. It is a place where students can learn and flourish creatively without the usual tensions associated with high school – peer pressure, bullies, etc… The students are free to be themselves without feeling judged for being different or, for that matter, being “normal”! The staff is genuinely caring and not just working for a paycheck – and it is evident on a daily basis. In my own dealings with my “crew” of over 200 students, I see a work ethic and drive I have rarely seen in adults – and I've seen it year after year for 11 years now!
What advice do you have for other students in other areas of the country who would be interested in getting involved in film?
I guess I go back to what I tell my students – go for it! In the world today there are so many avenues for aspiring film makers, musicians and other creative “types”. Shoot that film, make that music video or follow that dream. With the options in social media like YouTube putting things instantly in front of millions, what’s to stop you? Investigate educational options in your area on both high school and college levels. Dreams not pursued become regrets when you get older. Simply put – if you don’t give it your best shot, you will wonder for the rest of your life! Trying and perhaps failing is better than not trying at all! The wonder of life is that you never really know where it will take you – so enjoy the ride!

Julia Shewchuk of Serenity Acres:

What did you enjoy about the film documentary project?
There was nothing I didn’t enjoy. George, Beth, and the 4 students (Abby, Ben, Cheyenne and Angela) were awesome, their excitement about the Project was contagious and they fell in love with the goats, especially the goat babies. These were positive Young people with a mission and a goal and it was fabulous teaching about the Farm to such a receptive audience. 

You currently have an anti-pest project. Can you share a little bit about that?
We have a protective outdoor spray that, based on our hands-on tests and experience on the Farm, mosquitos and other critters hate. Because we are outside a lot and any bug repellent is sprayed on exposed skin and clothing, we wanted something that was as natural as possible and wouldn’t harm our skin or the environment, but would keep the bugs at bay. It is waterbased, so will wash off and not clog your pores or cause sunburn, and contains a blend of many different essential oils including lavender, lemongrass, eucalyptus, catnip oil etc. with bug repelling properties. We reapply it every so often, and we even use it on the horses, dogs and goats. 

How did your company get started?
We started with three goats to have fresh and healthy dairy products for our own use. Passion for the goats took over and three goats turned into many more goats with more milk than we could consume. Our passion for healthy dairy products then expanded into healthy bath (aka soap) products and now into healthy skincare products. 

What's your favorite thing about running the business?
 How enthusiastic our customers are about our products; how we are able to offer products that are not only good for us, but also good for our body and good for our planet; and how we can pass this knowledge and way of life on to the Young students and interns who come to our Farm. We are all in this world to each make a small difference, and we believe we have found our calling.

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