Stories Around The Farm

 

Success Story: Nurturing Nature Organics

Nurturing Nature Organics Inc. is an organic soil production company located in Lake Country, just outside of Kelowna. They produce top-of-the-line organic soils from worm castings that are used primarily in the agricultural, landscaping and gardening industries. The site itself is a bustling mix of farm, warehouse and production environments.

At Nurturing Nature, employees are expected to be interchangeable between different work-stations and therefore require a broad base of specialized skills in order to be successful members of the team. All employees need to know every step of production in order for the firm to operate efficiently and safely.

When the time came for Nurturing Nature to find a new employee, owner and operator Paul Shoemaker knew exactly what kind of skills his organization needed in a successful candidate. He put out a job post and received several applications from people interested in working at Nurturing Nature; two stood out in particular and he set about arranging interviews with his shortlist.

It was only when he contacted the candidates that he found out that one of them had a special attribute: Jerome Yager is deaf and communicates primarily through sign-language. Jerome’s qualifications brought him to the top of the heap so Paul hired him “to see how it would all work out”.

There is a lot of moving equipment and machinery at Nurturing Nature, so employees need to pay constant attention to their surroundings in order to stay safe. In particular, they need to see and hear that machines and equipment are functioning properly. As Jerome doesn’t hear the machines there was a brief concern that he might not be able to look after them – a concern that was eliminated as soon as his unique ability became apparent.

Jerome could feel and understand the vibrations of the machines better than his coworkers could hear them – even identifying malfunctions before anyone else’s senses tipped them off to it.

Paul is quick to point out that the modifications Nurturing Nature has made to take full advantage of Jerome’s skills have helped everyone else. In particular, the installation of proximity sensors on the back of Bobcats and forklifts that set off a visual cue to the operator when something is close behind has helped all employees operate the machines more safely. “I used to back into things myself” Paul joked.

Jerome has been working with Nurturing Nature for over two years now, and Paul couldn’t be happier. Jerome has been teaching his coworkers how to sign and Paul is thrilled to have picked up what he calls his “second language”.

“We can’t tell these people they’re unemployable,” Paul urges other employers. “They really aren’t impaired, they’re like everybody else. They overcame these things themselves a long time ago and it’s time for employers to get over it too.”

 

Prepared for Publishing by: Adian Grove-White, Project Analyst
Minister’s Council on Employment for Persons with Disabilities
Program Planning, Reporting and Partnerships
Ministry of Employment and Income Assistance
Government of BC
www.WorkAbleSolutionsBC.ca




    

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Nurturing Nature Organics Inc. 2009