Jointly written by Susan Knickerbocker and Diana Putney
Many of us are big picture people, some of us are better at seeing the small details.
Hometown Hero Jerry Lloyd, however, sees the forest and the trees clearly at the same time. His motivation is what is best for the community as a whole, and then he narrows the needs of individuals all at once.
“Jerry started ‘building community’ the day he moved to the island by bringing the magical ability to “see opportunities to create opportunity for others,” says Judy Feldman, director of the Greenbank Farm Management Group.
“If he picks your project or brings you one of his own, he will become your most focused non-paid staff person,” she said. “He is organized, he does his research, he persistently widens your network of support, and he makes sure you have fun through it all.
“Jerry has taught me that how we live, where we live, we’re meant to be curious, learn new things, meet new people, play new games, and find new ways to support each other. He wants to have fun, and he wants those around him to have fun too.” Not because life is all smooth sailing, but because it’s not, Feldman said. There are enough challenges to go around the globe way too many times. The goal is to not add any more, she said.
A few examples of how Lloyd and his wife Connie have given to the community: He built an indoor arena that they lend out to groups; Lloyd volunteers teaching horse trailer classes and teaching humans to clicker train their animals; he volunteers for Putney Woods, Trillium Community Forest trails, Whidbey Camano Land Trust, 4-H, Greenbank Farm, and in myriad other ways to make life smoother for people on South Whidbey.
As Sonya Simmons, co-owner of Simmons Garage explains, “Jerry has the unusual ability to see the big picture with a very laser focused attention to detail. He was instrumental in getting the community support behind the purchase and preservation of the Trillium property. He has worked very hard trying to keep the Greenbank Farm alive and prosperous for our community. He’s brought activities to Whidbey like mounted paint ball and horse soccer. He looks at what’s possible and says, ‘let’s go’ and makes it happen.”
Driving into the “Lloyd’s Rein Shadow” property, it’s laid out with attention to detail and with a larger picture intent, specifically being capable of holding and accommodating large groups. Entering inside the Lloyd’s detailed craftsman-style home you are greeted by Zari, the African parrot, and three Portuguese dogs: Grandma Chloe (she’s dressed in doggie fashionable diapers), Kiah, and Jett.
Lloyd begins, “You know horse people do everything backwards. First we build the fence, stalls, barns, arena, and eventually a house.”
Whilst seated at their long meeting table, the phone rings. It’s a young girl who lives nearby, worried that her horse is lame. Lloyd’s wife Connie jumps on the Honda quad and zips off to assist; when she returns later, all is well.
The Lloyds have lots of “adopted” kids in their life including Jerry’s younger sister, for whom they are now the legal guardians. They both love children, but say they decided not to have kids of their own.
He says what makes him feel the best is teaching.
“My dad took time off from his own business to teach science and math in high school,” Lloyd said. “I got the teaching gene from Dad.”
Lloyd also volunteers teaching 4-H kids dog agility, helping them to excel at the county and state level. Happy kids and happy dogs is Lloyd’s goal. He tells real life stories so well, you see a campfire, breathe the smoke and hear the crackling fire and night crickets in the background.
“It was Connie that got us into horses in 1998,” he said. “She and 14-year-old Katie (who became a surrogate granddaughter) went to just ‘look’ at horses. But they didn’t just look, they bought an off-the-track thoroughbred named Royal. Months later Connie and Royal had an accident leaving her in a body cast and six months (of) rehab. I was Connie’s caretaker, and had to learn to take care of her horse too.
“When I wanted a horse for my own, a friend gave me the ‘son lecture.’ It goes like this,” said Lloyd, reenacting the story by standing up and pointing his finger. “ ‘Don’t buy your first horse. Rent, borrow, steal, but do not buy one — you will buy the wrong horse!’ ”
So he leased a calm, proven horse he named Kola, and eventually bought him.
Connie has been a physical therapist. Lloyd retired from what he calls the “corporate, button-down-shirt world.” He was part owner of an outdoor equipment company. He enjoyed the design and marketing of the products. He also got involved in medical products when Connie gave him an article about wheelchair seating issues, and he led his company to use an outdoor product design to solve the problem and start a medical division.
Lloyd is motivated by the needs and desires of other people and animals.
Dale Kerslake, M-Bar-C Ranch volunteer coordinator, remarks, “Jerry organized a fundraising event after the M-Bar-C Ranch was burglarized in 2012. We were overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness of Jerry Lloyd and wonderful horse folks here on Whidbey Island.”
Lloyd read about stroke and head injury patients having a very difficult time reading out loud. So Lloyd, along with his dog, obtained a certification in dog therapy and volunteered at rehab centers like Providence Medical Center in Everett. Lloyd wrote a story about his dog, printed out greeting cards for patients and then asked them to read them out loud to his dog. Turns out many of them could read without a problem to a dog, but had “performance anxiety” reading to a human. Lloyd and his dogs also volunteered for Reading Educational Assistance Dogs, (or R.E.A.D.).
“I am all about only positive methods of training for humans and animals. I attended the international Clicker Training symposium and learned about the science behind positive training methods, and I am happy most are leaving the old school of dominance on animals. The old dominance school of training belongs back in the dark ages,” he says.
“Everything we know is wrong. I come from that premise, this frees me up to try new ideas. For instance animals are so much smarter than we know. Zari, our parrot, has her own sense of humor. We sometimes lovingly call her ‘the bitch,’ ” he says laughing. “Zari has the intelligence of a 5-year-old child and the attitude of a 2-year-old. For instance, yesterday I had our refrigerator opened while getting salad out, and the fridge door alarm kept going ‘ding, ding, ding, ding.’ I closed it and could hear Zari saying, ‘ding, ding, ding, ding.’ Zari and I banter a lot, so I said, ‘Zari stop with the ding, ding crap or I will come over and wring your neck!’ There was silence for about 30 seconds and then she said, ‘Ding! Ha ha ha.’ ”
During his interview with The Record, Lloyd suddenly gets up and says, “Okay let’s go on a walkabout.”
Off we went, Grandma Chloe, Kiah and Jett in tow. First stop is the chicken coop that Lloyd built for a Rescue bantam rooster he calls Ranger, and his hens/girlfriends. Lloyd trained Ranger to do card tricks and walk on a leash. Lloyd trains all of his animals with clicker and treat, positive reinforcement training.
Next we head down to meet and experience the four horses: Royal, Kola, Lavado and Smokey.
We pass by Lloyd’s impressive manure composting bins.
“I do have some brain farts now and then,” he says, smiling. He does all this so folks can come freely to get rich compost full of worms for their gardens.
Then on the tour is the large covered solar-paneled arena. Attached is a heated bathroom, stalls, a meeting room and tack room. This was their dream to build so they and the community could play with horses and dogs.
What made them choose South Whidbey to move to?
“We looked from Costa Rica and New Zealand to the Southwest,” he said. “When we came to South Whidbey we knew this has the most caring community of people, it’s simply the best place in the world and it’s in the rain shadow. Whidbey has an amazing ‘brain trust.’ For instance, want to learn history? You can’t find better than teacher Terry Clayton who teaches at the Senior Center. Want nuclear science, farming? It’s all here, woven within the generous South Whidbey people here.”
Linda Racicot, a retired teacher and current director on the South Whidbey School Board, writes, “Jerry and his amazing wife are very simply a force of nature, no matter how difficult or how many roadblocks appear. He simply does his research and keeps moving forward.
“Jerry has worked tirelessly to improve and develop the trail systems on Whidbey that so many of us enjoy for hiking, biking, horseback riding and walking. He has attended countless county meetings in this endeavor. Most recently he has been instrumental in creating the Renaissance Fair at the Greenbank Farm. He is also a supporter of the riding program for handicapped kids called Equestrian Crossings. For all I know, in his spare time he may be running for president this year as well!”
What others say about Jerry:
“Jerry holds 4-H and many other classes at Connie and his arena. He made everyone feel welcome right away. He was always patient, funny, kind and extremely generous, not only with his knowledge, but with his arena and agility equipment. When it came time for the fair, he allowed us to borrow his agility equipment, he volunteered his time to help us set up courses, and was always available to answer questions. He also volunteered to do demonstrations in the dog arena to the public on both agility and clicker training. I am amazed at all he does for our community.
We are so fortunate to have Jerry along with his wife Connie as part of our community. He is a shining example of selfless volunteerism in action.”
volunteer with 4-H Dog/Superintendent
“Jerry is a generous generator of energy and enthusiasm which he brings with him in abundance to any task. If you have a project, ask for Jerry’s help — if he has not already volunteered. He will respond with time, talent, tools and equipment. Have a problem, ask Jerry and he will respond with practical advice and creative ideas.”
Tom Cahill, South Whidbey Trails and communityvolunteer
“My daughter started agility training with Jerry about five years ago. He has been so encouraging, patient yet straightforward; he is amazing with kids. He also is committed to 4-H and truly understands the importance of this organization. He will drive three hours just to come down and support the kids at the state fair. There have been numerous times when he has stayed late to help a student or let us use his arena for classes and shows. I don’t know what we would do without him.”
Kelly Hall, parent
“Jerry has spent countless hours working with our 4-H kids helping them learn agility. We have consistently sent competitive kids and dogs to the state fair. Island County 4-H is very lucky to have Jerry. What I have learned from Jerry and his wife Connie is, no matter how busy you are there is always time to give to your community. It’s the right thing to do. A better world starts in your own back yard.”
Connie Mutschler, volunteer
“Jerry is a great idea man. He always has a new project in mind to benefit the community. Not only does he have the ideas, but also the solutions and the ability to inspire others and galvanize them into action with his strong organizational and leadership skills. While able to visualize the big picture, he is amazingly detail oriented. I admire his positive, upbeat outlook.”
Sharon Vanderslice,community volunteer
“Jerry is a great asset to the Whidbey community. He is able to rally the public and accomplish projects that you wouldn’t think possible otherwise. The Whidbey Camano Land Trust has been lucky to work with Jerry on several projects and he has proved to be a vital part of several community projects, including the protection and stewardship of Trillium Community Forest. Jerry is a hard worker, team player, innovative and a problem solver. He is willing to go above and beyond to reach a goal and is extremely generous.”
Jessica Larson, Whidbey Camano Land Trust
“Jerry has always spoken of supporting the farm, without any negativity, focusing on how the farm is treasured and used by so many people. It was Jerry who brought back ”Renaissance at Greenbank” and it was a success. This is how Jerry rolls — working to solve problems, do fundraising events. The Renaissance event was all Jerry’s doing: planning, finding the entertainment and enlisting volunteers.”
Dianne Bolton, Vice President Back Country Horsemen
“I have known Jerry for 40 years. He wears well. Jerry has worked for years to connect children, the infirm, and the handicapped with animals through 4-H, hospitals, and retirement facilities. He is a strong asset to his community and a tireless worker with positive leadership skills. He confronts conflict with assertion and objectivity, but tempered with respect, inclusiveness, and great listening skills.”
Judy Ellis, friend
“I love Jerry because he loves chickens, dogs, horses, kids, community, and Connie (maybe not in that order).”
Carl Ulmschneider, aka Chicken Man
“I have known Jerry for several years. We are at times working on the same project or on a trail-ride together. Over the years he has been consistent in his willingness to organize events, classes on safety and education, land deals, trail work parties and a myriad of things I’m unaware of. He has without a hitch been positive in his attitude when others aren’t, been exuberantly effervescent in his outlook regardless of the setbacks, and tirelessly successful in the endeavors he pursues.”
Tim Keohane, Island County Back Country Horsemen