Educate, Engage, Activate

Women’s History Month 2024 Honoree: Erika Gorgenyi

Women’s History Month 2024 Interview

Before growing food locally, Erika spent many years as an outdoor educator, guiding groups on wilderness adventures and teaching rock climbing. She then moved into the realm of environmental education and worked on several farms over the course of a decade. With a graduate degree from Antioch University in Environmental Studies, she went on to become the Education Director at the nonprofit Wright-Locke Farm in Winchester for over 5 years. Since 2023, Erika has served as the Executive Director of Wright-Locke Farm, a role which positions her to continue to help people make connections to food, community, and the natural world.

What motivated you to choose or start working with the nonprofit organization(s) you have worked with? 

For many years, I worked in the field of outdoor/adventure education before moving into the realms of food & farming, sustainability, and environmental education. That experience, coupled with an undergraduate degree in history, naturally led me to be drawn toward the uniqueness of Wright-Locke Farm, which blends history, farming, all kinds of outdoor education, and sustainability. Basically, I love connecting people to the natural world and to one another. I feel lucky to have found this special place that does just that and more. 

What have been some of the highlights of your work? 

Throughout my time at Wright-Locke, I’ve worked hard to ensure that we both offer quality, accessible programs to the community, and also empower and encourage strong, successful staff and leadership, all while seeking to protect and preserve our wonderful resource of the farm and surrounding land. 

What are some of your goals for yourself, as a leader of the nonprofit(s) you are working with? 

At Wright-Locke Farm, we have an incredible, dedicated team of staff, board, and volunteer members who keep us a vibrant, valuable place. One of my goals is to continue prioritizing the nurturing of these relationships, and in that way, enable us as an organization to better serve and give back to the community. Similarly, I’m always seeking ways to build partnerships and collaborations with other nonprofits so that together we may be more impactful in our efforts. 

Do you feel you faced particular challenges, and/or had particular advantages, as a woman doing this work? 

There are always challenges in any work, especially in nonprofits, but I feel grateful to have had, and continue to have, incredible support systems around me – sound advice, encouragement, and mentors. Perhaps being a woman may have allowed me to be a bit more open to seeking and receiving this support, but not necessarily. 

Since this is a month honoring women, is there a woman who has inspired you and why? 

So many amazing individuals, both past and present, have paved the way for women leaders today. I often think of such strong and brave people like Wangari Maathai and Rachel Carson, as well as, more recently, Leah Penniman. If you don’t know about these women, please click the links to learn more about their powerful, important work. But I must say, at the risk of sounding cliche, that my mother has been, and continues to be, an inspiration to me. She is smart, thoughtful, encouraging, and a hard worker. I’m grateful to have her as a role model. 

What advice would you like to share with young people, especially young women, who are considering working in the nonprofit community? 

At times, nonprofit work can feel overwhelming, and the short-term rewards may be difficult to see. But the value of doing meaningful work that you’re passionate about — alongside others who share that passion — and work that has an impact in the community or the world at large, is truly gratifying, for the long-term. 

Is there anything else you would like to share? 

I’m so humbled and honored to have been selected for this recognition. The Network for Social Justice is one of the organizations that we, at Wright-Locke, have been proud to partner with over the years. We look forward to this continued relationship and to serving the greater Winchester community long into the future. Thank you!

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