The residents at Pleasant View bring with them a rich background of impressive careers, beautiful families, and exciting passions. As part of our new “Perspective of Purpose” series, we are featuring some of these residents and how they’ve continued—or perhaps discovered—their life’s work in retirement.
Today’s story profiles resident Mark Nestleroth whose passion for farming and community service has only grown in retirement. He and his wife, Hazel, are taking an active role in the development of The Hoffer Farm at Pleasant View and have an inspiring vision for its future programming.
A Lifelong Love of Farming
From a young age, Mark Nestleroth had a passion for farming.
Mark attended Penn State where he received a degree in Animal Science and subsequently ended up farming for 25 years. His high-school sweetheart and now wife of 56 years, Hazel, was an elementary school teacher.
Eventually, due to circumstances in the farming industry and a growing family, they had to make some changes, and Mark took a job at New York Life where he worked as an insurance agent for 19 years. In the midst of all this, the couple had five daughters.
After Hazel retired from teaching and Mark from New York Life, the two started a bed and breakfast on Mark’s family farm. The couple combined their passions for education and farming into a unique experience for their guests: a post-breakfast farm tour.
“After breakfast each morning, our families with children would take their kids to gather eggs, walk our mini horses and alpacas, and play with our rabbits,” Mark said, chuckling.
“We did a lot more than you normally do at a bed and breakfast,” Hazel added.
Throughout his life, Mark has also remained active in Heifer International, a non-profit that takes a holistic approach to eradicating poverty and hunger through sustainable agriculture and education. He served on the organization’s national board for six years from 1986-1992 and both Mark and Hazel remain active as fundraisers for the organization.
A Continued Dedication to Farming and Community Service
Since arriving at Pleasant View, Mark has continued to dedicate himself to farming and community service. Both he and his wife have played an outsized role in the revamp of the The Hoffer Farm, serving as two of the four co-chairs.
The Hoffer Farm is the family farm of Pleasant View founder, Edna Hoffer; the property is expansive—50 acres total—and is intended to be a community space for residents and neighbors in Manheim. Initial programming started last summer, and groundbreaking for the farm’s cultural center will occur this spring.
Part of this initial programming will be animal therapy, led by Mark. The project includes 15 volunteer residents, as well as farm animals such as alpacas and goats, which are trained to interact with residents.
The idea behind animal therapy is that animals from The Hoffer Farm can provide relaxation to residents at Pleasant View, particularly those in healthcare units who generally experience more distress.
“Running my bed and breakfast gave me insight into what livestock can do for people,” Mark said. “We already see how cats and dogs can offer relaxation to people, and livestock can do the same.”
In addition to onsite visits with animals, Pleasant View broadcasts the goings on at the farm to residents’ televisions, which also provides a therapeutic respite.
A Vision for the Future at The Hoffer Farm
As plans for The Hoffer Farm continue to expand, Mark has a bold vision for what’s to come. He envisions a Pleasant View food bank system where crops that are grown on the farm are given to community members in need. In tandem would be an education program where people can learn more about sustainable agriculture, farming practices, and new ways to give back to the community.
“Manheim is a more rural community, and this program is a great way to directly serve and engage with people,” Mark said. “Most people don’t have experience with livestock or farming and The Hoffer Farm offers folks the opportunity to learn more if they so choose.”
The food bank program is in its preliminary planning stages and Mark is excited about how it will develop. The ethos behind the project speaks to both Mark and Hazel’s continued commitment to their love of community service, education, and agriculture.
So which animal on the farm is Mark’s favorite?
“The pygmy goats,” he said without missing a beat. “They’re small, playful, and entertaining and bring a unique joy to people.”
This is what it means to live life well. This is what it means to embrace a Perspective of Purpose. For more information about our culture at Pleasant View, give us a call at 717-665-0734, or schedule a tour and stop by for a visit!