Hello, Happy Peaceful Mama: Meg Maitland shares her love of nature and living in Kern County and what inspires her sense of CALM
by Callie Collins
Sep 27, 2023
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Meg and husband, Jason Maitland
Meg Maitland knows where she finds peace: in nature. That love of flora, fauna and outdoor experiences contributed to her candidacy as director of California Living Museum (CALM), a role she has held since 2020.

“Nature is how I get revived as a human,” she explained.

Meg earned her degree in biology with a concentration in zoology at the University of California, Stanislaus. Originally from Kern County, she graduated from Bakersfield Christian High in 2008.

“We moved from Lake Isabella when I was 13,” she said. “That experience at a Christian high school was imperative. My parents also encouraged me and allowed me to have the interests that I do. They encouraged me to pursue the degrees that I wanted and gave me the space to do that, which is really the most important piece. They also encouraged hard work. My parents were always very supportive and just a phone call away.”

Meg found herself working with at-risk youth in Texas and then Colorado, bringing teens and nature together. She later became a hoofstock curator at a ranch in Georgia overseeing more than 300 animals before becoming a tourism photographer.

“A position became available at CALM and my Mom sent it to me in case I wanted to come home,” said Meg.

Home turned out to be just what Meg and her husband, Jason, would find back in Bakersfield as they soon welcomed a baby.

“Jason and I have been together for 10 years, married five. He is my rock. That man is such a blessing. I am so blessed to have him. We have done all of our adventures together,” said Meg. “He was able to be a stay-at-home dad and takes such good care of our home and our child.”

Postpartum recovery is an important topic women in particular are focusing on as part of communal conversations with doctors and each other. Meg’s experience with a birth that did not go to a plan and a sudden C-section, in addition to the new demands of motherhood, gave her a lot to reflect on in the fourth trimester, the newly defined 12 weeks after birth that have recently been formally recognized as a particularly vulnerable period of adjustment and healing.

“Every day, my husband would make me go outside for 15 minutes and sit in the sun. I took the baby sometimes, other times I didn’t but I had a moment where I wasn’t being touched  or pulled on or nursed on. I felt centered and I could remember that I'm still here regardless of what my body went through. Those 15 minutes gave myself time to have thoughts of my own. Getting my vitamin D and having intentional time outside was a game-changer for me,” said Meg.

 She also recognizes the positive role of finding balance with the help of others and the community.

“We all go through those emotions, whether it’s with going back to work or having a changed daily dynamic. Some days it's easier, some days it's really hard,” said Meg. “Finding a balance is important. We as women can lean into each other but we don't do that often enough because we don't want to feel like we are giving too much advice or imposing but we need each other.

It's such a beautiful community that we have in Kern County.”

CALM is a sure fit into Meg’s vision of local outdoor beauty firmly rooted in the community.

“We are celebrating our 40th year, so it’s an excellent time to visit. CALM has been a staple in Kern County for family fun for those four decades, having gone through a lot of changes and growth. I see it as a community hub with plants and animals,” she said.

More than 20,000 students visit the venue each year through school events, a connection that highlights its status as a department of Kern County Superintendent of Schools. STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) camps are offered on-site throughout the school year and a variety of events for family fun are planned for this fall. 

“People sometimes have a misperception about the animals at CALM. They may expect to see giraffes, lions, elephants like a traditional zoo but we're here to appreciate native wildlife. It's about the importance of native plants and animals,” said Meg. ““My main goal since starting at CALM is to have an open gate policy, with space to run around and unplug, put phones away and let your children be themselves. I hope CALM will always be a place for family traditions, community events and wildlife education. Come and see for yourself this fall.”

Find out more about CALM and watch for fall fun updates at https://calmzoo.org/.

Q & A: Three questions with Meg Maitland

Q. Do you have any hidden talents? 
  1. I have the ability to learn new languages surprisingly well. I have learned ASL (American Sign Language) and Spanish. I also have a weird knack for cooking Indian and ethnic foods that I do not have for American foods.

Q. What should families in the Kern County area know more about in their community?

  1. In addition to CALM, there are so many fun outdoor spaces like Hart Park as well as indoor play places and venues like Kern County Museum and Buena Vista Museum.

Q. What is your parenting PSA?

  1. Let your kids be kids. Let them make messes and be loud. Go on adventures. Remember with everything your child is seeing that it's the first time for them. For you, it's a stick. For them, it's a magic wand or a sword. Don't exchange your child's wonder for practicality.

  • I'm always laughing at... My ability to run into the objects that have literally been in the same place forever: doorframes, tables and other solid pieces.
  • The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is... Drink chai.
  • My favorite food is... Puerto Rican chicken and rice
  • My favorite dessert is... Raisinettes
  • In my pantry, you will always find... Outshine fruit pouches
  • Before I go out, I always make sure I have... Sunglasses
  • The best book I've read lately is... “Aggressively Happy” by Joy Marie Clarkson
  • So far, my best life advice is... Accept every adventure because you never know where God is leading you.

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