Sara Garrand '97, MAT '00, has more than a passing familiarity with Mother Nature's precarity. As a scout leader in Boy Scout Troop 4054, she has confidently guided her charges across unsteady mountainous terrain, to safe shelter from rogue lightning storms, and past the occasional bear or two - all without incident.
And scout's honor, she can tie a wicked knot.
"I use the taut-line hitch a lot. It's useful for so many things—like tying the guy lines of a tent to the stakes or hanging a clothesline between trees," she said. "I like to tie the bowline because I can do it one handed and my scouts find that amusing since most of them only know how to do it with two hands."
Garrand joined Union in 2021. The scout motto, “Be Prepared,” is a fitting mantra for the start of her packed workday. As an administrative assistant for the Dean of Academic Departments and Programs, she provides office support to the Director of General Education, the Director of Interdisciplinary Studies and, as needed, 22 Interdisciplinary Program Directors. In lieu of a lunch break, she crams in a computer science class to burnish her technical skills.
Family road trips were a staple of Garrand's childhood and instilled an appreciation for the natural world. "When we were able to take a summer vacation, it was usually to someplace scenic - like Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia (Cape Breton Highlands), or the coast of Maine. And it wasn't unusual for my parents to pile all of us kids into our van and drive over to Vermont on a Saturday afternoon for a picnic in some pretty spot."
A history major at Union who also obtained a masters in teaching, Garrand has taught high school history, earning a reputation for creative, hands-on lesson plans. "I used to have my students do things like make chain mail, create illuminated manuscripts, listen to music from various time periods, make mosaics, and create art, poetry and stories in the style of various artists and writers from the time periods we were studying."
Scouting and outdoor activities are shared family passions. Garrand and her husband, Mat, an engineer at Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory, live in Ballston Lake. Mat has been a Boy Scout volunteer, and their three children are avid scouts and accomplished hikers. Brandon, 17, and Logan, 16, have summitted all 46 Adirondack high peaks. Hyde, 10, has completed five. Garrand has seven under her belt (and boots).
FIRST APP YOU LOOK AT IN THE MORNING: Usually the weather app on the iPhone
GO-TO BREAKFAST: I don't like most breakfast foods, so I often eat leftovers from lunch or dinner. Pepperoni pizza or a hamburger for breakfast? Yes!
WHAT’S THE LAST GREAT BOOK YOU READ?: The Lord of the Rings... although I guess technically, that's three books.
BEST ADVICE YOU EVER RECEIVED: I can't think of any words of wisdom that someone shared with me that really stuck.
FAVORITE PLACE TO VISIT: I generally like outdoor spaces, touring historical sites and fun/silly things like the Star Trek: The Original Series Set Tour in Ticonderoga.
WHAT ARE YOU WATCHING RIGHT NOW?: Most recently I re-watched the “Avatar: The Last Air Bender” series. When I have time, I also like to watch “Law & Order: SVU” reruns, TV shows from when I was a kid, like "The A Team," and old comedies like "The Honeymooners."
ONE SKILL YOU WISH YOU HAD: I wish I could speak another language. My maternal grandmother came to the U.S. from Trieste, Italy, in 1947. She and my grandfather were native Italian speakers but stopped speaking it in the late 1950s, when my mom and aunt were made fun of at school for their “broken English." I rarely heard my grandparents speak Italian conversationally. My father's family immigrated from Germany and Austria but stopped speaking German during World War I to avoid hostility and being viewed as unpatriotic.
THREE DINNER PARTY GUESTS (living or deceased): Jack Black because I think a dinner party with him would be a riot. My dad because I miss his laughter. My grandmother because if there's a party, she will show up with food whether or not you asked for it, and I really miss her handmade pasta and her guanti.
FIRST CONCERT: My parents took my sister and me to a John Denver concert at SPAC in 1980.
LITTLE KNOWN FACT ABOUT YOU: In July of this year I took nine scouts to Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico for a 12-day backpacking trek. By the end of our trip, we hiked a total of 90 miles, including a 12,441 ft. high mountain.