Andrea Foster is the Community Programs Manager at The Little Forks Conservancy in Midland, Michigan. Her work with LFC includes the Nature/Nurture program, an environmental education program with local high schools. She serves on the City of Midland’s Parks and Recreation Commission, the Midland Area Community Foundations’ Cultural Awareness Coalition as well as the Public Arts Committee.
She also coaches kids at The Rock Center for Youth Development, and serves on the Midland Young Professionals Steering Committee. Foster was recently selected as the recipient of the MyPros Rising Star award in December 2018.
Q: Catalyst is a side-job for many of us. What can you tell us about your day job?
A: In my day job, I get to do a whole lot of things that are out of the ordinary for most people! In any given week, I might be tromping through the woods, doing a river cleanup (preferably in the summer), teaching students about climate change, or coordinating something from the desk in my office. I love being able to get outside for work, and I think it shows. I very rarely have a bad day. Winters are far harder to get through though.
Q: You’re very plugged-in to the community. What kind of initiatives or organizations are you currently involved with?
A: I am really lucky to be a part of quite a few groups in the community. I think one of the most impactful ones has been the Parks and Recreation Commission. We get to advise the City Council on what projects to greenlight and ask questions on behalf of the community. I was very honored to be chosen for that spot, and I get so excited about every meeting we have. Being a part of my local government and knowing what’s happening in the city’s green spaces brings joy to my heart.
I’m also very involved in MyPros, or the Midland Young Professionals group. We are doing really cool things in the community, and I get to help plan some of those events or even be a part of them.
The Midland Area Community Foundation’s Cultural Awareness Coalition is one of the groups that is trying to deeply affect change in Midland. The group is addressing issues near and dear to my heart like inherent biases, discrimination and inclusion. I’m relatively new to the group, but I have never felt more accepted by so many people at once.
Q: What do you consider some of your passions in life to be?
A: I’m absolutely an advocate first and foremost. I care so much about the world we live in and focus on ways we can make it better by taking a stand on important issues. I pay a lot of attention to the news, and follow local, federal and global politics.
I also love music and podcasts, my amazing daughter and my three pets. Spending time with my friends is very important to me, although the circle I actually do so with is small. If I’m taking time out of my day for you, it’s because I really respect, care for and admire you.
Q: What are some of your favorite subjects to write about?
A: I absolutely adore writing about non-profit work, and also stories of overcoming adversity. The piece I did about Ten Sixteen Recovery Network was one of my favorites. It showed human vulnerability and discussed real-life struggles that often get swept under the rug.
There is so much in this world that can bring people down. The stories of folks that choose to rise from the ashes are the stories I most enjoy telling.
Q: You spend a lot of time frequenting places in the community. What are some of your go-to spots?
A: Well, anyone who knows me will tell you that Live Oak Coffeehouse is my second office. I have developed relationships with a lot of the staff there, and I go there every day not just for coffee, but for hugs and kind words.
I’m also a really big fan of Crepes Et Amis in Downtown Midland. They care a lot about the community and have delicious food!
Q: What kind of things do you like to do in your spare time? Any hobbies?
A: There are so many! I have tried a lot of crazy things in my lifetime, but activities I keep up with include knitting, hiking, kayaking, snowshoeing, catching up on Netflix shows and surrounding myself with the people I love most in my life.
Q: You do a lot of non-profit work, and have highlighted many of Midland’s non-profits in your Q&A’s for Catalyst. What is an issue that is important for the community to tackle?
A: This is such a hard question, because there are so many answers. I believe strongly in the work our community is doing to promote LGBTQ or SOGI inclusion efforts. We have some extremely strong advocates in organizations like Family and Children’s Services, Perceptions and now the CEO of Dow who has championed human rights. I think we need to continue to do this work, but also make sure that our community is filling in gaps in mental health for youth and adults. I think it’s so important that we donate to organizations that provide services to those in need.