Each week we feature “Meet the Staff Mondays” to help our viewers and fellow staff members learn more about the folks who work here at Idaho Public Television: behind the scenes, out in the community, at locations around the state, and in front of the cameras. Today we introduce one of our new education specialists, Becky Mitchell.
IdahoPTV’s Carol Beres sat down with Becky to find out more about her role sharing educational resources with the eastern part of the Gem State. “I have everything from, I would say, Twin Falls, excluding Twin Falls and the Burley area, everything a little further to the east of there; all of American Falls and Pocatello, clear to the border with Wyoming and clear to the border with Utah. And then up north all the way through Salmon,” she says.
Becky grew up in the area that she now works in. “My hometown is Challis.” She stayed in the Pacific Northwest for college. “I went to University of Puget Sound,” Becky says. “I had a basketball scholarship.” While it’s beautiful there, she says, “You don’t see the sunshine.” She ended up finishing her degree at Idaho State University and started her teaching career. Now, Becky’s working for virtual schools as a compliance director as well as starting her duties at Idaho Public Television.
Becky feels the need to provide these outreach services to eastern Idaho. “Especially growing up in rural Idaho, I feel I know the importance of reaching out to those communities that maybe don’t get served as much as some others,” Becky says. “And it’s been a really positive connection in the places that I’ve had contact with.” Traveling the state, Becky works with elementary educators and libraries, getting the word out on all the resources Idaho Public Television has to offer educators and parents. “Just this last week I was out at Ketchum to the local library there. And we did a screening of Work It Out Wombats! And that was a lot of fun.” Becky adds, “I’ve been helping with the American Falls Early Learning Collaborative. It’s like their preschool program that they have down there. I’m helping with their STEM nights, and they do a program called Read, Talk, Play. And I’ve been helping out just being a volunteer — helping out with whatever they need. Sometimes I’ve helped run a station. And other times I’ve helped check people in.”
She has helped some teachers in remote areas get some much-needed supplies. “I reached out to a teacher in Leadore about kindergarten kits, and she was super excited; because that’s something that they put together themselves (out of their own pockets)…to put together the funding has always been a bit of a struggle. And that’s a community that’s way northeast that people might not think about.”
In Becky’s free time, she likes to garden and care for houseplants. “I’ve grown up gardening. My grandmother was a big gardener. I grew up with a huge garden outside…my parents have continued it,” she says. It’s primarily vegetables, but Becky adds, “Gardening here in Mackay is a little bit difficult, because of the high altitude and the tiny little growing season that we have.” Becky’s favorite plants have something special about them. “I have a purple shamrock and I have a green shamrock. I love those because they have personalities. When it’s cold they droop a little bit. And when they’re happy, they’re all full or they bloom. And they bloom in different colors. I like plants that can talk to you a little bit,” Becky laughs.
When it comes to snacking, Becky’s a big fan of breakfast foods. “Any excuse I can make to have breakfast. Like when my husband was going to be late or not be home for dinner, then we would have breakfast for dinner.” One tradition that she maintains is making puffy German pancakes for her kids for their birthdays. “I make them an individual German pancake, put a candle in it and deliver it to them. I’ve done that since they were one year old.”
She loves the sun that we get here in the Gem State, “Even when it’s three degrees!” and the peaceful environment of her mountain town. “I just like how I can sit in my house at night and I don’t have to hear anything. Especially here in Mackay. It’s so quiet. Even when I go to Boise, then you realize all the sounds that I don’t hear sitting here in Mackay.” When it comes to her favorite PBS Kids character, she’s a fan of some tried and true members of the troupe. “Big Bird and Grover. I had a plush Grover, a big one. I also had a tiny Big Bird. Grover went everywhere with me.”