CUE director guides interns, campus farm

By Ali Hendricks

Under the twinkling carousel lights at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Tim Carter held his smallest daughter on a horse and smiled as his other two children beamed at the sight of all the bright carousel animals.

“We’re just going to do one more ride after this one,” he said.

Carter allowed his children to run freely through the museum while doing his best to keep up with the small legs of his 2-year-old.

Ada, Carter’s oldest daughter, wanted to go to the Barbie exhibit first, and Carter was all for it.

Whatever the children wanted to do, he wanted to do.

“Go walk on the runway, Haven,” Carter said to his youngest.

After the Barbie exhibit, it was time for Townes, 4, to see his favorite exhibit: the trains.

While Ada played with the plastic Chihuly pieces, Carter, Townes and Haven marveled at the train exhibit.

The way Carter handles his children is no different than the way he deals with the interns who work for him at the Center for Urban Ecology. He’s laid back, patient and willing to do whatever it takes to help them learn and grow as people.

Ashlee Cerda, a senior biology and Spanish double major and intern at the center, said that Carter, the director of the center, is one of the most personable bosses she’s ever had.

Cerda said that while Carter doesn’t just hand over help to her, he allows her to work through things on her own and helps to cultivate her passions.

Instead of telling the interns what needs to be done, Carter asks what they would be interested in helping with, Cerda said.

The laid-back approach Carter uses paid off for Cerda, who is currently working with Indianapolis’ Hispanic population and attempting to discover how the food they eat affects them and their bodies.

Carter helped her develop the program, which will be beneficial to her future career in food health.

Junior science technology and society major Sam Erdman, another CUE intern, had equally good things to say about Carter.

Erdman said he appreciates the time Carter spends with them, figuring out their passions and giving them jobs that are enjoyable and educational.

Carter juggles his three passions daily—husband, father and director for the center.

He’s juggling a few large projects at the center, as well.

Along with the interns, he has been working on putting bluebird boxes at Butler’s intramural fields and at local elementary schools.

The center has also partnered with the Indianapolis Museum of Art to create a mobile application to promote river awareness. This innovative project will allow people  to see where their water comes from and where it goes.

One of the most notable projects the CUE is working on is the Butler Campus Farm.

Earth Charter Butler, a student-run, on-campus organization, proposed a community farm to the university last year. However, the university would not approve the project without a stable group of adults helping.

Earth Charter Butler asked for the help and the CUE accepted the challenge.

Carter and his co-worker, Margarie Hennessey, spent the spring of 2010 preparing the ground for seeds and eventually planting on the Butler Farm.

The two could not run the farm on their own, so Butler’s Student Government Association and the center came together to hire a summer farm manager, Kaitlin Haskins.

With the help of volunteers and other interns, Haskins, Hennessey and Carter reaped enough produce to begin selling it to Aramark, Napolese and at a farm stand on Butler’s campus this year.

On Nov. 4, the farm hosted a Fall Flavor Fest at the farm stand on campus.

Carter and a group of the center’s interns were handing out mulled cider, sweet potato soufflé, pumpkin seeds and butternut squash soup to everyone who attended the event. It was all made from Butler farm produce.

A tall, thin Carter stood talking to guests and volunteers who had helped to make the farm the success that it is.

Carter is not one to boast his own successes, but he often talks of the triumphs of others.

Daughter Ada, 7, read all of the museum signs without a struggle.

“You got moved up a reading level this week, didn’t you Ada?” he asked as Ada skipped happily down the museum ramp.

Going to the Children’s Museum is a weekly outing for the Carter family.

Carter takes the children out on Saturday mornings so that his wife, Katie, can have a break from being a stay-at-home mom.

With such young children, almost everything the Carter family does is done together.

Supporting local farmers and knowing where their food comes from is something the family enjoys.

Carter’s wife Katie writes her own food blog where she discusses where food comes from and how to best utilize fresh produce.

Even the smallest Carter, Haven, wears cloth diapers.

Whether it be through eating fresh produce, helping others do the same or wearing cloth diapers, the whole family strives to be earth-friendly.

“Ok, guys, we only have about two more minutes,” Carter told his children, nearing the end of their museum stay.

Two hours at the museum wore Carter out.

He had pitched an idea to a committee the night before in attempt to receive a grant and didn’t get to bed until midnight. He realized this was too late when his middle child, Townes, came in at 5 a.m. with a stomach ache.

Not only did Carter have an event to go to after the museum with the children, he needed coffee too.

Carter pushed a stroller that held Haven, while Ada walked in front talking about books and Townes attempted to jump over the stripes of the museum carpet.

It was time to go home.