Columns, Our Neighborhood

Lori Ferland Digs Digs

courtesy photo
Lori Ferland works on blueprints for archaeological dig in Pompeii, Italy.

HARDWICK – When some people think of vacations, they may envision days at the beach, camping or visiting a theme park. For Lori Ferland of Hardwick, her vacations tend to lean more towards adventures. Over roughly the last 15 years, Lori has worked on archaeological digs in Pompei and Malta, interacted with gray whales in Baja, Mexico, and created her own safari to Uganda.

The idea that a woman from Hardwick could create her own global adventures may be another testament to the phrase that you can actually, “get theya from heya!”

Lori Oberle Ferland’s adventures began when she was 11 years old and moved to Vermont with her parents and two younger brothers. The family moved from Clinton, Conn., to Monkton. Lori attended schools in Monkton and graduated from Mount Abrams High School. She laughs as she describes her steady move up Route 15 to eventually land in Hardwick.

After high school Lori attended Johnson State College, earning a BA majoring in Business Management and a minor in Anthropology and Sociology. Her minor may be the first hint of her adventurous spirit and desire to learn about and understand other cultures.

After college graduation Lori lived in Hyde Park and took a job at the Union Bank in Morrisville. Lori’s first date with Todd Ferland came as a blind, double-date with mutual friends. She recalls they went to the Checkered Flag in Hardwick. Lori and Todd married in September of 1994. In the spring of 1995, they purchased the Cottage Street home in Hardwick where they live today.

After settling in Hardwick, Lori went to work as the office manager at Hardwick Motors working for Dennis Pudvah. She helped integrate and computerize the dealership. Lori has continued her day job as the office manager for Lamoille Valley Ford in Hardwick and has seen the evolution and changes in the dealership over almost 28 years.

Lori’s global adventures began after the loss of their beloved dog, Esau. Lori struggled with the loss and found herself restless and searching for something meaningful to do. She wanted go somewhere warm after a long winter. She didn’t recall exactly how but ended up Googling the American Institute of Archaeology and discovered they supported opportunities for volunteers. By selecting “search the Globe for a dig” she found an opportunity to apply for a dig in Pompeii, in the town of Campana, Italy, 14 miles south of Naples. Lori went to Pompei for a week each June from 2010 to 2016. Her primary responsibilities were recording and drying blueprints of the site. She said most people might not understand the fulfillment and joy she got from a working vacation. Lori described the best part as learning, attending lectures and meeting people from all over the world.

In 2018 Lori participated in an eco-camp in Baja, Mexico. It was the annual mating season for gray whales. The females give birth in the sheltered bay and stay with their babies until they are able to independently move to the open ocean.

Lori described the thrill of going out in boats that averaged the same length as the female whales. Often the females would swim alongside the boat and they could reach out and touch them. As the females became accustomed and comfortable with the travelers, they would seem to introduce their babies.

Lori said after a while it seemed like the mothers would drift away and let them entertain the babies while they caught a quick nap. This is the only known place in the world where gray whales socialize with people.

Lori’s next adventure was to Uganda, Africa, in 2019. While having a conversation with a friend about a different place to travel, she wondered about Africa and a possible safari. As it happened her friend knew someone with connections in Uganda and made the introductions. Lori was able to plan her trip with their assistance.

One day during the trip, Lori went by dugout canoe to have lunch with the mother and son who were mutual friends of her trip planner. The son, Mehereza Boaz, was one of the directors of the local school. Lori learned a lot about the need for supplies for the school, then built a relationship over the following years and came to support them with fundraising and providing materials.

Lori has gone to Malta twice to dig in the dirt with friends from the Pompeii dig who began a dig of their own in a Roman village there. She found some pottery shards on what had been a Roman road. Hosting volunteers was a means to fund the project. The volunteers were provided two meals a day and a place to stay. Lori described building relationships and becoming close friends with many fellow travelers.

When asked what her next adventure might be, Lori wasn’t sure. Perhaps one day go to Mongolia to ride Mongolian ponies?

Staying in places off the beaten path that might not have electricity for amenities we often take for granted, she described her travels by saying “an inconvenience rightly considered is an adventure.”

Mary Wheeler, Community Journalist

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