Gavin Gladding joined the staff of the River Parkway Trust in 2003 – hired from a phone interview while he was working at a Camp on the East Coast. He was brought on to work on the Trust’s first large-scale invasive weed management project. After a year working on land stewardship projects, Gavin moved into the Trust’s education program area.
During his tenure with the Trust Gavin decided to pursue a career in education. He completed his teaching credential at night and then took a position as a teacher at Alta Sierra Middle School. Later on Gavin moved over to Clovis West High School and taught AP Environmental Science and most recently served as Vice Principle at Fort Washington Elementary School.
After leaving regular employment with the Trust, Gavin continued to work for us as River Camp Director for many years.
He was a talented individual and a gifted educator. One experience that stands out was a day that Gavin and the Trust’s Executive Director Sharon Weaver staffed a tour of the San Joaquin River Gorge with boys from Valley Teen Ranch. During the afternoon session a bee came buzzing around the group while Gavin was providing instructions for the next activity. The bee sent several of the boys into hysterics of batting at the insect and running and screaming. Gavin used this as a teachable moment and asked the boys to come back and talk about what was happening. He asked the boys if they had showered that morning, pointing out that they had probably used scented soap, scented shampoo, and deodorant.
“The bee is just trying to see if one of you is a flower,” he told the group.
It was a simple lesson but beautifully executed with a difficult audience. And it left an impact.
Gavin died in a tragic accident in mid-September. He mentored many youth, staff, and volunteers through the years, and will be remembered as an important part of the River Parkway Trust’s work to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards.