Megan Van Deren- Staff Feature
Megan weaves together her love for animals and her devotion to her friends, family and hobbies into a lifestyle that makes this "local girl" as she calls herself, one content human.
Ever since she was a kid growing up in Sebastopol, she was surrounded by pets-birds, dogs, cats, horses-you name it. Her mom bred Australian Shepherds and Friesian horses. So of course, Megan's first pet that she really felt was hers, was an Australian Shepherd named Mel.
"I always thought about being a vet," she remembers, "but when I realized the schooling would leave little time for anything else, I decided to take a different path." After high school, she started working at Santa Rosa Veterinary Hospital for one year and went to SRJC for her General Ed. Then she decided to pursue her lifelong passion for reading as an English Major at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
"We got to take incredible, weird and specific courses like ones that just focused on science fiction and others that put the Robin Hood story in social contexts throughout history." Her dad read the Lord of the Rings trilogy to her when she was a kid, so her interest in stories began at a young age.
Megan worked at a bird sanctuary in Santa Barbara in between her coursework. One day, a rescue Senegal parrot named JoJo came in to which she cooed "awww you're little." A fellow worker was doing a personality test on the bird and warned her that JoJo was a bully. Over the course of weeks, Megan brought JoJo to lunch with her and fed him sandwich bread, eventually winning his trust.
That was 12 years ago, now JoJo is part of Megan's pet brood at home. "Well, he is in charge really, of everyone," she explains. "He is obsessed with shoes, and has his own collection of stilettos and paddock boots. He thinks they are nests."
When she finished school, she came back to work at Santa Rosa Veterinary Hospital. Megan worked her way up from the kennel to office manager, where both her animal care skills and writing skills shine.
Megan coordinates the animal check in process, makes sure all the proper paperwork is completed and is the point of contact between the doctors and pet parents. She tries her best to make sure the schedule runs smoothly and always appreciates cuddling the puppies before handing them over to the techs. Megan is the first person to open the office in the morning and the last to close up shop in the evening.
This same dedication, focus and skill that Megan brings to work, she also gives to her hobbies.
In her free time, she practices dressage with her horse Leila, knits and recently started to weave. "I'm working on a Scandinavian weaving technique called nålbinding where you only use one needle." Megan enjoys the meditative nature of knitting and weaving, "I can turn on the TV and zone in on my project."
Although her grandmothers are both accomplished knitters, she only learned the basics as a kid. Later on, in college, she read books and watched YouTube videos to learn the intricacies of her craft. "I like to make shawls and scarves with open weave lace patterns." How gorgeous!
Her dream is to continue living this life she's created, to keep spending quality time with family and friends and to craft. Megan is working to level up in dressage too! She is also practicing another equestrian sport called working equitation and hopes to find a horse more suited for the obstacle part of the sport. Oh and she just bought a loom...
If you want to nerd out about yarns (she loves malabrigo yarn) and craft life come chat with Megan at the front desk! What crafts are you working on?
Written by Roxanne Darrow - 12/18/2020