by LYDIA COBB | photos by Jayde Wofford

Farmer Jones

Nancy Jones retired in 2006 after teaching first grade at Alamosa Park Elementary for nineteen years. Her nickname, Farmer Jones, is rooted in a gardening program she started at the school. Farmer Jones, or Mrs. Jones, obtained her elementary credential at SDSU and went on to receive her MA in Special Education. She took some years off to raise a family after teaching in the Gifted and Talented Education program and was active in Cub Scouts. With her professional focus on childhood education, you might think retirement would yield more free time. Not for Nancy.

volunteer02“Continuing to work with children in the outdoors has become the joy of my life,” she revealed. After she retired and was active in Vista Garden Club, a friend suggested that Nancy might enjoy volunteering on the Children’s Garden Committee at Alta Vista Botanical Gardens. Her reward is now the joy she gets from inspiring children to connect with nature. Nancy is the volunteer director of children’s programs at Alta Vista and leads classes, field trips, and planting events. She started the first Kids in the Garden class (2nd Saturdays, see and the first Fall Festival in 2009.

“These children are learning to respect and love the outdoors, gardening, and their environment,” shared Nancy. “They are getting exercise and breathing fresh air. They are discovering how our world works and applying science to their discoveries. We are the antithesis of electronics – this is the original reality show and we need to be comfortable in it.”

In June, the Kids in the Garden program at Alta Vista Gardens received Honorable Mention for Most Creative Conservation Project – a national recognition given by the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. Nancy is also the recipient of the 2012 Boys & Girls Club “From the Heart” award. Nancy’s mission is to continue to create and sustain programs that keep children interacting with their natural land and water. “Why not,” added Nancy. “I’ll continue because it’s fun and keeps me active. It’s a benefit to the community and it’s a great volunteer opportunity.”

She still volunteers in her former school’s Green Thumb Gardening Club and is president of the Women’s Club of Vista. Nancy enjoys attending Chamber of Commerce events. She stays involved. Moreover, Nancy Jones is making a difference in keeping Vista a great place to live.

Name: Nancy Budzinski Jones
Profession: Retired school teacher; president of Women’s Club of Vista and gardening teacher with Alamosa Park Elementary and Alta Vista Botanical Gardens
Community: Vista since 1985
Hobbies: Gardening, working with children outdoors, exercising, and hiking
Favorite Places to Visit in 92081: Buena Vista Park, Thibodo Park, walking around Shadowridge Golf Club