Old McDonald has nothing on Tracy Offerdahl-McGowan, PharmD
. When she’s not teaching Salus students in her role as a pharmacist, she’s a “farmacist.”
“I’m a pharmacist and a farmer. My husband calls me a PharmD, but he spells it ‘FarmD,’” said Dr. Offerdahl-McGowan, assistant professor of pharmacology and therapeutics for the Optometry
and Physician Assistant (PA) Studies
programs at Salus.
That’s right. When she and her husband Andy McGowan started dating 33 years ago, their first outing was a Jeep ride, with the top down, through beautiful rural Bucks County, Pa. where Andy grew up.
The rural life wasn’t unfamiliar to Dr. Offerdahl-McGowan. Both her parents are from Minnesota and her mother grew up on a farm. By the end of that first date, the couple had chit-chatted about someday living on a farm.
That someday came more than three decades later when the couple purchased a traditional — and it turns out, historical — farmhouse in Ivyland, Pa., just last November.
“My husband tracked down the original land grant from William Penn and then we’ve been able to track the half dozen owners that owned the property since the William Penn land grant,” said Dr. Offerdahl-McGowan. “We’re probably going to be able to get the exact date of the footprint of the original, two-story farmhouse, which is still there. So far we’ve dated it back to the 1790s. It’s amazingly intact.”
The original house was added on in the 1890s that doubled its size. That was also around the time the barn was built on the property. Another addition included a kitchen in the 1940s.
According to Dr. Offerdahl-McGowan, it’s called a “gentleman’s farm” — a gentleman farmer is a landowner who has a farm as part of an estate and one who farms for pleasure rather than for profit or sustenance.
Right now, on just fewer than eight acres, the couple has four horses — two full-sized, one Shetland pony and a mini who is training to be a therapy pony; three dogs; seven chickens and miscellaneous barn cats.
“We always have quite a few vegetables,” said Dr. Offerdahl-McGowan. “I love gardening so I’m already doing a monarch butterfly bed as well because we have such a crisis with monarchs. And, we’ll be bringing eggs into Salus because the chickens produce a lot of eggs. There’s nothing like a fresh egg.”
The fact that she likes digging in the dirt actually relates back to her job at the University, Dr. Offerdahl-McGowan said.
“When you think of it from a pharmacology perspective — I love holistic medicine. So I’m somebody who is going to go to some sort of plant remedy before I will take a medication. I’ve always been that way,” she said. “It’s fun to grow things in the garden that you wouldn’t necessarily use. It’s fun to know there’s some elderberry there that’s beneficial for the coronavirus. It’s just a place where you can use your knowledge of biochemistry and medicinal chemistry, and it’s also a great conversation piece with neighbors.”
Dr. Offerdahl-McGowan has been at Salus since 2006 and a full-time faculty member for the past six years. The only pharmacist on the faculty, she teaches all the systemic pharmacology for several programs.
“The thing I love about Salus is you really get to know people well. It’s a family, a community-type of environment. It’s just a very unique atmosphere. Every campus is unique and has its own vibe, but Salus has a unique energy,” she said. “It’s a great place to be as a faculty member. You have a lot of support from the other faculty, the deans and the president. It’s just fantastic.”
But at the end of the day, when Dr. Offerdahl-McGowan is done being a pharmacist, she can’t wait to get home and become a “farmacist.”
“It such a relaxing way to get out and be in the sun, get some dirt underneath your fingernails and get back to what matters. It’s just a peaceful existence,” she said.