This month’s volunteer profile features SuZanne Salladin and her children, Briar, age 17, and Aidan, age 14.
“My first experience with El Rancho de las Golondrinas was at the Wine Festival back in the carefree summer of 1996 while I was a student at the College of Santa Fe. I still have the wine glass! I grew up on the East coast, born in New York State in the late 1970s to parents that were educators. Being the child of an educator meant that every year for family vacations, one is most likely spending long stretches of time traveling the country in the back of a sweaty, overstuffed vehicle, visiting State and National parks and, of course, museums and historical locations.
On my first journey to Las Golondrinas, that fateful, warm and sunny Wine Festival day, I instantly fell in love: in love with New Mexico, in love with the history, culture, food, music and people that reside here. After many years of life on the East Coast, marriage, divorce, continuing education, the hectic life of work and children, the lure of New Mexico and it’s unique treasures brought me back. We moved to New Mexico in the summer of 2015 when I brought my teenage children, Briar, age 17, and Aidan, age 14, to many of the festivals as visitors, and they also fell in love with the idea of being a part of such a rich and valuable institution. In fact, they asked me if we could all be volunteers.
I have experience in education, different facets of the tourism industry, and case work/social work positions as well as customer service, and have been fluent in Spanish for over 20 years. So, volunteering and working at the Ranch felt like home to me. In 2016, I fell into a tour guide position, volunteer docent with the kids, and last year started demonstrating a molasses taffy recipe from a historical cookbook I found at the downtown library.
We like to portray a Territorial-era family as it fits not only our family’s ethnic background and history, but echoes our own story venturing out west to create a new life for ourselves, just the three of us. We like to be in the school house, with the animals, at Sierra Village tending the gardens, and anywhere we can be useful, especially during festivals. We love variety and getting to know the other skilled volunteers and all aspects of the Ranch. As a tour guide, it is useful to be a generalist. I have also been given the opportunity to be a seasonal sales associate in the gift shop this summer, and I am looking forward to spending even more time on the Ranch.
My dad used to tell me, ‘Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.’ We sure consider ourselves one lucky family to be welcomed as a valuable part of Las Golondrinas.”