Micro Missions

Photo: Nik Hold

Two nursing students with a goal to heal the world one microgreen at a time

W iljon Guarin had long wanted to become a nurse, but he soon realized that the rush and repetitiveness of hospital nursing were not for him. He didn’t want to be stuck in what he describes as a “white-ceiling, white-wall, white-floor” hospital for the rest of his career. So, he opted at age 24 to become a registered home health case manager nurse. It nicely fit his personal mission to connect with people and help improve their lives in a sustained way. 

For his job, he spends about four hours a day visiting home-bound patients in Sacramento, Roseville, Rocklin, Lincoln, Auburn, Colfax, and other areas near Weimar Institute where Wiljon is completing his BSN. At each home, Wiljon checks on his patient and provides the care that he or she requires. But Wiljon has always wanted to do more. 

He is a descendant of a line of farmers. His grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather were all hard workers who rose early most mornings, retired early most evenings, and capitalized on every hour of daylight. While being a nurse includes long hours, it is quite different from farming. Nevertheless, Wiljon loves the calm pace and the opportunity to work with his hands in nature. Soon Wiljon’s love of gardening led him to invite one of his friends, Felicity Kaisuva, to see his garden.

Felicity, a nursing student, came to Weimar from Australia to earn a health/lifestyle coaching certificate in the HEALTH program. As the HEALTH course progressed, Felicity learned that while curing various diseases is important and helpful, a healthy, preventative lifestyle is preferable. Felicity began to focus on how nutrition is a fundamental part of a healthy lifestyle. After completing the HEALTH program, Felicity began nursing school. However, the importance of nutrition was still in her mind and promoting it became a personal mission.

After touring Wiljon’s garden, he and Felicity began talking about microgreens. This new interest and their mutual nursing career goals led them to co-found Advent Gardens, a microgreens business, in May 2020.

Wiljon and Felicity have a number of reasons for starting Advent Gardens, but one of their main ones is their mission to promote healthful living through a nutritious diet. “We’re nurses,” Wiljon says, “and we want to be able to give people a lot of nutrients and a lot of good-tasting food.”

Microgreens are one of those tasty foods and a nutritional powerhouse that people often don’t know much about.  “Microgreens are the teenager plants of plants,” Wiljon says, “People ask ‘So, why don’t you just call them sprouts?’ We don’t call them sprouts because sprouts are sprouted and produced without a medium to grow in. Sprouts are produced only with water. But microgreens are grown with a medium: soil. They’re grown with a root, with a stalk, with leaves, and then keep growing until they turn green.” Microgreens are harvested at seven to 15 days of growth. “That’s the best time when it has its most dense amount of nutrients,” Wiljon says, “more dense than the adult, and also more dense than the sprout because the sprout doesn’t get its nutrients from the soil.”

Now, between seeing patients, Wiljon provides people an opportunity to, in a sense, become their own home health case managers through good nutrition. On each nursing errand, he takes sample greens with him and, between patients, he markets them to grocery stores and restaurants.

“It’s super cool because it’s so convenient,” Wiljon says speaking about his job as a home health nurse, “Felicity, here, she’s the farm manager. She does planting. And then when it comes to marketing, I…take the samples, and market. I clock in, work, clock out, market, clock back in, work, and then clock out and market again!”

Starting a business during the challenges of 2020 wasn’t easy, but they began small and their business has steadily grown. In May, when Wiljon and Felicity began growing microgreens, they started with growing pea and radish microgreens from sprout-hood. Already, they’ve expanded their microgreen crops to include sunflower, broccoli, and cilantro microgreens. At the six-month mark, Advent Gardens was already supplying local stores and vendors such as Pizzaiolo (a popular pizza place in Auburn, CA, that receives individual customers’ orders from as far away as the Bay area) with fresh, delicious microgreens.

Additionally, their individual customer base has expanded beyond the local area. For some customers, gardening – even microgreens – for themselves isn’t an option so they look to Advent Gardens for this service. For others, microgreens are a first step toward a healthier lifestyle as they look for ways to boost immunity these days. Still others appreciate that microgreens offer more nutrients in smaller packages and with less waste thus better conserving natural resources.

For Wiljon and Felicity, Advent Gardens is about finding a unique way to fill a need. They agree that Weimar College taught them this through the importance of both good nutrition and thinking independently. “I believe that’s what true education is supposed to teach: original thought.” Wiljon says, “And when I was learning from Dr. Wilcox [an English professor at Weimar College], I learned that true education wasn’t just to teach people how to work under a boss and fulfill what he or she wants. It was supposed to have people make original ideas to better the world, and, out of that, sustain themselves financially.”

Bettering lives through connection and nutrition? Fulfilling their personal missions through helping people sustain a healthier lifestyle? Advent Gardens does this and more as it continues to grow from a micro idea to a mission with big results.

Photo: Nik Hold

If you’re looking for unique ways to fulfil your personal mission through Nursing or other degrees, we’d love to help. Contact the Admissions department at [email protected] or (530) 422-7923 or go to https://weimar.edu/admissions/.

Lifespan Development (3 Credits)

From conception to old age, this course explores focuses on the biological, psychological, and social developmental issues and milestones for each stage of the lifespan, paying particular attention to the aspects of context, culture, and environmental issues. Topics include, but are not limited to: parenting style (child guidance), social contexts, social stress, poverty, low educational attainment, abuse and neglect, gender and family issues salient to relationships, separation, nontraditional and blended families and inadequate housing and how these affect development. Issues of aging and long-term care are included.

Moral Identity and Faith as a Counselor (3 Credits)

This course explores the formation of the student therapist’s identity as a counselor within the framework of Christianity and how this plays out in a secular world of counseling. This course presents philosophical and ethical perspectives integral to the understanding of the contemporary psychologies. Students learn how to analyze the ethical bias of psychotherapeutic psychologies, identify their underlying philosophical assumptions, and develop an appreciation for the moral components in individual, marital, and family identity formation. Also included will be a workshop to enhance spiritual development.

Christian Counseling and Psychotherapy: Basic Theories and Skills (3 Credits)

This course develops an understanding of the major theoretical orientations used by current practitioners, focusing on systemic approaches. Theories provide a coherent framework for understanding how people change. This course will highlight the Biblical understanding of how change takes place. This course covers the concepts and techniques associated with the primary theories of counseling psychology: psychodynamic, existential-humanistic, cognitive-behavioral, and post-modern; in contrast with wholistic counseling techniques. Also included are the evidence-based treatments, limitations, and outcome research associated with each concept. The course also highlights cultural and spiritual diversity as it applies to the therapeutic process and awareness of the self, interpersonal issues, and spiritual values as they impact the use of theoretical frameworks. This course also introduces the student to basic skill in attending behavior, clinical interviewing and clinical intervention. Finally, this foundational course clarifies key issues in human nature and prepares the student for developing a worldview that is consistent with their theological and spiritual orientation.

Advanced Counseling Theory (3 Credits)

This course will examine several individuals, and family approaches for counseling. The development of specific behavioral, cognitive, humanistic/experiential, psychodynamic and systemic frameworks will be deconstructed. Student will distinguish Christian approach of addressing individual and family concerns. Students will be involved in experiential activities designed to relate the observation, demonstration and practice to research-based explanations. In this course, we will consider how each approach is used in clinical, school, and marriage and family counseling applications. Training in the use of the therapeutic relationship will be a focus for understanding and intervening with clients.

Group Processes in Counseling (3 Credits)

This course introduces students to the theory and practice of group counseling with children, adults, families, and couples. The course focuses on basic group counseling theory including therapeutic group factors, stages of group development, and principles of commonly accepted and research-based group interventions. The course will cover different types of groups, such as support, psycho-educational, and process groups; the tasks, skills, and qualities of effective group leaders; roles of group members; and legal and ethical issues pertaining to groups, group leaders; roles of group members; and legal and ethical issues pertaining to groups. Importance is placed on responsibilities and skills and cultural considerations. Emphasis on small and large group processes and involvement in experiential activities is designed to relate the clinical process to theoretical explanations. Throughout, there is an emphasis on group work within community mental health settings.

Child and Adolescent Counseling (3 Credits)

This course provides an understanding of the broad range of childhood and adolescent problems and maladjustment behaviors. A variety of psychotherapeutic modalities are presented, providing the student with an opportunity to develop knowledge of basic child and adolescent therapy skills, assessments, and treatment strategies. The impact of the development aspects, family dynamics, social environments, and multicultural issues are addressed. In addition, legal and ethical issues and the role of hospitalization are considered.

Addictions Counseling and Treatment (3 Credits)

This course covers the prevention, assessment, and treatment of substance abuse/dependence, behavioral addictions, and co-occurring conditions. Theories of etiology, populations at risk, and the role of persons and systems in supporting or compounding abuse/addiction are discussed. The course reviews the cognitive, affective, behavioral, and neurological effects of psychoactive drug use and the impact of addiction on the family system. Best practices for the screening, assessment, and treatment of addictions and co-occurring behaviors are covered as well as community resources for individuals and family members. Additional focus will be placed on developing understanding of Recovery Oriented Care, social and psychological implications of socioeconomic position, and cultural awareness and competencies.

Counseling Diverse Populations (3 Credits)

This course focuses on the intersection and convergence of culture, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, disability, socioeconomic status, religion, acculturation, and chronological age and how these inform effective mental health care. The goal is to increase awareness of multiple dimensions of diversity in order to prepare students to work sensitively and effectively with California’s multi-cultural population. Attention also is given to issues of privilege, marginality, and oppression, including sexism, racism, classism, ableism, ageism, and heterosexism. Theoretical perspectives on multicultural counseling will be examined as well as strategies for intervention and advocacy. This course will focus on eliminating biases, prejudices, and processes of intentional and unintentional oppression and discrimination. Throughout, effective strategies for communicating about emotionally charged material is emphasized.

Couples and Family Counseling: Post-Modern (3 Credits)

This course continues the study of the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of individuals, couples, and families using interactional and brief models. This course provides advanced training in the theories and techniques of modern and post-modern schools of family therapy including Cognitive Behavioral, Behavioral, Solution-Focused, and Narrative Therapy. Also included are the evidence-based treatments, outcome research, and limitations associated with each theory. Specific family issues addressed include: transition to parenthood, parenting young and school-age children, household division of labor, and blended families. Throughout, careful attention is paid to the historical and cultural context in which the theories were developed and the implications for working with diverse populations in recovery-oriented community mental health settings.

Christian Counseling and Psychotherapy: Advanced Techniques (3 Credits)

This course is designed to further develop the psychotherapeutic skills of students prior to their entry into a clinical placement. Students focus on developing proficiency in the core interviewing qualities, deriving goals for a clinical session, and in making contracts with clients for change. Additionally, students are encouraged to begin developing a theoretical and conceptual understanding of cases and trained to work with diverse populations. Students are also encouraged to address issues regarding the integration of their faith with the practice of psychotherapy.

Assessment of Individuals, Couples, and Families (3 Credits)

This course examines the application of psychological instruments to the assessment of individuals, couples, and families. Fundamentals of psychological assessment are reviewed including standardized and non-standardized testing approaches, basic statistical concepts, and moral, ethical and cultural considerations in assessment. The course will also provide an overview of issues related to cognitive assessment, achievement, aptitude, and neuropsychological assessment. Emphasis will also be on clinical, behavioral, and personality assessment.

Knowing God Better Through Career Development: Theories and Techniques (3 Credits)

This course prepares students to address the intersections of career, values, and life roles in the context of career counseling and responding to career and work-related issues

for majority and marginalized groups. Students will gain core knowledge of major career development theories; examine the implications of sociocultural factors on career development, work transitions, and the career counseling process; gain experience with career counseling assessments and resources; and become familiar with current career development literature.

Crisis and Trauma Counseling (3 Credits)

Students will develop a foundation for assessing and treating post-trauma reactions in adults along with an overview of trauma responses in children. We will begin by reviewing the variety of trauma populations followed by in-depth instruction on the mechanism of development major trauma concerns. The assessment and intervention of post-trauma conditions will be identified. Next, we will address clinical interventions including disaster mental health and exposure-based treatment. Finally, we will review issues affecting therapists working with trauma populations and self-care strategies to prevent compassion fatigue.

Research and Evaluation in Counseling (3 Credits)

The goal of this course is to enable students to become informed consumers of psychological research and to use current research knowledge and tools to improve treatment outcomes. Students will explore methods and issues associated with the conduct and use of research concerning phenomena relevant to counseling psychology. The course provides an overview of hypothesis generation, research design, data collection and interpretation, and utilization of research findings in clinical practice, while considering systemic and sociocultural influences. Students will review seminal research findings including research on specific treatments and common factors across treatments that improve therapy outcome. The course also provides students with assessment tools for evaluating mental health programs and the effectiveness of one’s own clinical practice. Emphasis is given to helping students become knowledgeable consumers of research, including the use of research to inform evidence-based practice.

Clinical Neuroscience and Psychopharmacology (3 Credits)

Fulfills the California Board of Behavioral Sciences requirement for surveying the use of pharmacological agents in patient care. This course provides a basic overview of neurobiology in order to understand the biological bases of behavior and the psychopharmacological treatment of mental disorders. The course includes information about commonly prescribed psychiatric medications for children and adults – indications, contraindications, mechanisms of action, side effects, drug-drug interactions, iatrogenics, and variability related to age, gender, ethnicity, and medical condition. Students will learn how to work cooperatively and effectively with clients, family members, and prescribing clinicians. Additionally, controversies related to the medical model and to specific prescribing practices will be explored.

Psychopathology & Diagnostic Processes (3 Credits)

This course examines the major types of psychopathology. It explores techniques of intake interviewing and determining mental status to formulate a differential diagnosis based upon the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Students will also recognize and understand the controversial history of the development of the DSM. The

course also includes a critical examination of the clinical and experimental literature in psychopathy. Etiologies of cognitive/affective functions and dysfunctions and implications for therapeutic intervention are also addressed.

Human Sexuality and Sex Therapy (3 Credits)

This course will provide students with an understanding of human sexual development with a particular focus upon sexuality counseling from a systems perspective. The goal of this course is to learn about the many facets of human sexuality and the treatment of sexual dysfunctions in a safe and respectful environment. Topics include the physiology, psychology, and sociology of sexuality, including the effects of sexual attitudes and functioning on individuals and families. Gender Identity and LGBTQ and sexual perspectives will be reviewed. Clinical applications, including the treatment of sexual difficulty and dysfunction will also be explored. Students will develop familiarity with the language and terms of sexology and demonstrate an ability to apply this knowledge to clinical situations. Finally, students will explore the above with a framework of Christian compassion and love, exploring how God created sex to be beneficial. A review of AIDS, HIV, and STDs will be given.

Legal, Ethical, and Professional Issues in Counseling (3 Credits)

This course introduces students to the legal, ethical, and moral issues related to the practice of LPCC and MFT in the state of California. This course focuses on contemporary professional law and ethics and moral dilemmas related to counseling practice. Students review statutory, regulatory, and decisional laws related to the scope of therapy practice, including confidentiality, privilege, reporting requirements, family law, and the treatment of minors. Professional codes of ethics (ACA, AAMFT/ CAMFT, and APA) will be reviewed. California law that is relevant to the practice of counseling will be examined including goals and objectives of professional organizations, standards of training, licensure, and the rights and responsibilities of professional counselors. Case examples will be discussed. Consideration is also given to the student practitioner’s values and behaviors, especially in relation to becoming a Christian therapist.

Practicum in Counseling (6, 3 per term)

The purpose of this course is to develop counseling competencies when working with a variety of clients with unique presenting concerns. Specifically, the focus will be on your ability to engage your clients in treatment, establish a working alliance, identify dysfunctional patterns, and use either general strategies or ECBIS strategies to facilitate change. You will work toward the development of a personally acceptable and professionally effective style of establishing and working in helping relationships. We will work toward helping you to examine your behaviors and rationales and to modify for greater effectiveness.

Course Prerequisites:
This is the terminal course for the program and will run concurrently with a weekly seminar that will address issues in counseling practice.