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Occupational Science grad exploring concept of care farming

Posted by Ryan Donato on June 12, 2024 in School of Occupational Therapy, Students, Alumni & Friends, News
Jean MacEachren says the Occupational Science program was a perfect fit.
Jean MacEachren says the Occupational Science program was a perfect fit.

Jean MacEachren was raised in Antigonish, Nova Scotia as the youngest of a large family. As a youth, she was active in sports playing as many as her schedule would allow. MacEachren began her university career at Cape Breton University before transferring to St. Francis Xavier where she earned a BSc in Psychology in 2017.

After graduation, MacEachren traveled abroad where her work with diverse populations helped deepen her understanding of the various levels of equity and ability in society. Hoping to build on an interest in occupational therapy (OT), she applied to the Occupational Therapy program before the then school director Dr. Lynn Shaw introduced her to Occupational Science.

“I had an Interest in OT and assisting people in their day-to-day activities. I was introduced to Occupational Science and it aligned with my interests and seemed like the perfect fit.”

During her studies, MacEachren became passionate about understanding how the various daily tasks and activities people engage in impact their health and their wellbeing. She also believes the Occupational Science program broadened her awareness of diverse perspectives and the importance of equity. Other highlights from her time at Dal were meeting professors and classmates, as well as learning about her classmates’ unique thesis projects.

Farming activities as therapeutic care

The option to complete a thesis project of her choice was a major factor in MacEachren’s decision to join the program. Researching her thesis allowed to dive deeper into the concept of Care Farming, which is the use of farming environments and activities as a health initiative or therapeutic program.

“Through my thesis project, I read more literature on the topic and got to interview folks with an interest in Care Farming. I was able to see the various ways in which Care Farming is used and tease apart the components that were recognized as contributing to the success/value of these programs. I am now a big advocate for practical activities and chores and believe being physically engaged has positive impact on our mental, physical, and social well-being.”

Graduating is a significant accomplishment for MacEachren, who began her studies with minimal research experience. The process of developing a thesis while balancing a full-time job and maintaining a healthy social life was challenging at times. She was thankful for the support of her profs, classmates and the school and strongly recommends the Dal Occupational Science program.

“You won’t regret it; the late nights and long hours of reading and writing are all worth it. There are so many supports and resources that are there to help you – use them. They’ll keep you on track, reassure you that all your feelings are normal, and most importantly they all are rooting for you.”

Earning her degree was a significant accomplishment that she is proud to have achieved. “I learned a lot of new skills that I will carry with me throughout my lifetime.”

Her long-term goal is to run a care farm where she can apply her knowledge of occupational science and continue her learning journey.