Leader Profile: Casey Wedding

An interview with Casey Wedding of the Napa County Office of Education.
Tell us a little about yourself.

I have worked for the Napa County Office of Education since 2009, when the Safe Routes To School program began. I used to work as a substitute teacher prior to starting at the County. I worked as a bicycling and walking safety instructor for three years, but now work more as a coordinator than an instructor.

What are some major issues facing your community and how does your work address them?

There are two main issues with our community: lack of active transportation infrastructure and lack of sustained funding. Many schools are also in previously unincorporated areas which were not planned well and are missing sidewalks.

There is a lot of competition for national and statewide Safe Routes to Schools funding. Without funding, our programs cannot exist. Sustained funding is key. The Napa County Transportation and Planning Agency is a critical partner that subcontract to us based on a competitive application process.

What excites or inspires you about your work?

Giving kids confidence is very inspiring. We have to explain to them that there is nothing wrong with not knowing how to do something, as long as they try! We try to build their self-confidence and help them not be affected by the stigma of failure. Our programs offer them the confidence to take risks and understand that failing is a process of learning.

What advice would you give to someone who is interested in supporting similar work?

Try to find an advocate for your work. We focus more on the operations of the program, less so about getting the word out and supporting our mission. Having someone, especially higher up, advocate and support our mission and programs goes a long way.