Meet Volunteer Matt Smith

Matt feels fortunate to be able to live in the home his great-grandfather built, having returned to the Marine area with his wife to raise a family after early career opportunities took him out of the state. Growing up in a tradition of community volunteering, Matt volunteers to give back and because he enjoys being a part of the community. 

You’ve got a demanding job as chief administrator for a nearby county, what made you decide to volunteer for Marine Mills Folk School? Well, partly because I was asked and couldn’t say no! The more nuanced answer is I wanted to do something more for the community I live in, and I’ve always admired people who have hands-on skills. Even though I grew up on a farm, I was never mechanically gifted, but I admire people like my brother, who are.

What about the Marine Mills mission resonates with you? The idea of connectedness: with one another, as well as the connection with artists from other places and times – to develop an appreciation for skills and artists who are different than one’s self. I also like the idea of helping preserve skills that have been used by people for a long time. Finally, the focus on the natural world, of learning to make a product with minimal impact on the natural environment.

Part of the Marine Mills Folk School mission is help strengthen the local small town and to help its long term sustainability. What made you return to the Marine area? I have a strong sense of place, and for me, there is no other place where I feel as comfortable or connected. I love seeing people I have known for a long time, and who have known me. You don’t necessarily pick the people of your community but a small town like Marine feels more authentic.

Photo Credit: Matt Smith


  • Irrational fear? I hate being on high ladders. I don’t consider that irrational!
  • Odd food combination you eat? Peanut butter on onion bagels
  • Fictional place would you like to visit? Pellucidar, a prehistoric ‘Hollow Earth’ world buried in the middle of the earth, as described by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • Skill do you with you had? A better ability to diagnose and fix internal combustion engines
  • Favorite place in nature? There are so many, I’ll just say wherever I can be outside. In the summer: outside. In the winter: outside.
  • Recommended books? The Unsettling of America, by Wendell Berry, about the loss of the agrarian community. I first read the book in the 1970’s when it was originally published, and it still makes an impact on me.

Photo Credit: Mihaly Koles on Unsplash