Work has been crazy pretty much since the day I arrived. I was nervous about making the switch from an agency to a corporate setting because everyone told me I would be bored. That suggestion is laughable. Since I joined, the university has:
- undergone a name and brand change (I started several months before this went live and helped with the execution)
- graduated the first class of students from one of the colleges I’m assigned and is about to graduate the first student from our newest college, to which I’m also assigned
- announced new partnerships in Cleveland and established our first physical presence in Cleveland
- launched a $130 million campus expansion plan that will double the size of campus by summer 2014, including its first-ever on-campus residential housing, a research and graduate education building, and a health and wellness complex complete with medical office buildings, an urgent care center, fitness facility, conference and event facility, retail and more
- … and more.
The point being: I am not bored. Neither is my team, which is now consists of five– a director of public relations and marketing, two pr/marketing specialists, a graphic designer and a digital marketing specialist. Luckily we all get along really well.
For the sake of sanity as much as strategic planning, our director suggested we take one day to meet off site for planning purposes and then take the afternoon off to hang out together. I believe it’s the first time our department has ever been completely offline for a day and it was our first official team building.
Breakfast in Hartville
We met at work to carpool to the Hartville Cafe where we started our morning with breakfast and some overall department planning.
There wasn’t much parking available so I was glad we were only managing one vehicle. The little restaurant had a few people inside and an upstairs loft you could rent so we headed up there for a private setting. There were amazing pastries displayed as we walked in and an awesome selection of “harvest” flavored beverages–I tried a cider chai that was incredible. I would go back again just for that drink.
After a wonderful and HUGE breakfast, we got to work and outlined some really good ideas for moving our department forward and what resources we need to do so. We wrapped up the planning a little after lunchtime and packed up for an afternoon of local fun at Maize Valley Winery.
Winery in Hartville
I had never heard of this winery, but it wasn’t far, had a very rustic feel, and very family friendly given its placement on a large farm.
It was a gorgeous day so we took photos outside before heading in to grab a few appetizers to share and do a few off-the-clock wine tastings. One of my favorites was their famous Big Red Pecker, which was a delicious red wine that I’m going to have to find at one of the wine shops in my area. It has a giant rooster on the front of the label so it stands out fairly well on the shelf!
After our brief tasting and snacks we headed back through the little shop and out to the farm in back. There were lots of kids running around and our group headed over to the livestock area to check out the animals.
There were several llamas and goats roaming around the large pen as well as a little wooden house with some warming lights full of baby chicks! They were all pretty friendly so we got a number of good pictures.
Of course most of them made their way to Instagram, but these were some of my au naturale favorites:
After the barnyard element of our excursion we headed down to the corn maze for a quick walk through. I was leading (for some unknown reason) and to the disappointment of several team members lead us directly out again. Apparently I have superb directional skills, my fiance’s opinions to the contrary excluded!
We headed back toward the entrance to hop on a hay wagon ride, and it ended up being one of the most blissful activities I’ve experienced in a long time. Despite the wagon of children screaming and singing connected to ours, I tuned out everything and just leaned back against my bale and looked out over the farm as we chugged along over the grounds and out to a distant pumpkin patch. It was so lovely out and we could just take it in. The weather was beautiful, and by the time we headed back to the winery I was in a great state of mind.
I know people have mixed views of team building–myself included–but this was a perfect outing that lasted just the right amount of time, had the perfect balance of actual work and play, and introduced me to a local spot that I’ve heard of since my first years at Kent State but hadn’t taken the time to explore. I would love to head back down with the fiance and other friends and family, especially if the weather is conducive to exploring the outdoors again.