MANCOS SCHOOL GARDEN TEAM
Hannah Smith, Mancos Garden Coordinator
An educator with a passion for holistic health, Hannah graduated from Tulane University with a degree in Public Health. Hannah spent several years teaching children with learning disabilities in an urban setting before realizing that she desired a more hands-on approach to both teaching and learning. Hannah's deep love for the outdoors brought her to Colorado where she discovered the wonderful organization at MSTFP. She has spent many years independently pursuing health and nutrition related knowledge; her personal philosophy encompasses the beliefs that everyone should have access to healthy food at an affordable cost, and that connecting children with the earth is an integral part of our future.
KATHERINe ROSE, Serve Colorado AmeriCorps Member
Making fibrous paper from native cattail and cedar bark, painting with natural dyes and learning the significance of riparian habitats for chinook spawning, Katherine grew up acquiring a deep appreciation for her ecosystem. This homeschooled education in Yachats, Oregon created a lasting connection between Katherine and the environment. Having the opportunity to live with a Cambodian family in the Kampong Speu province, she observed and felt the direct impacts of climate change on a rural rice-farming community. After working in the Green Mountains in Vermont as a summit steward and a trail crew member, she confirmed her joy for hiking and living in the woods with a dirty backpack and an ample supply of gorp.
As an environmental and urban studies major at Bard College, she focused in the anthropology department, patching a grant-funded budget together to study the relationship between outdoor recreation companies in South Africa and the local agrarian communities of the Western Cape region. This great privilege of spending a month and a half in South Africa turned into a published ethnography about her experience. Katherine has been traveling around the U.S. for the past year since graduating, dappling in her great passion of aesthetics and dance, farming in Vermont, guiding for a wilderness therapy company, working for a watershed council in Eastern Oregon and generally enjoying making genuine connections with people in the communities around her. She started working with MSTFP in September 2016 and greatly looks forward to spending a year dedicating herself to offering the students of Mancos an appreciation for local food production and the environment that they have the opportunity to start caring for today.
DOLORES SCHOOL GARDEN TEAM
PATRICK ALFORD, DOLORES SCHOOL GARDEN COORDINATOR & Production Manager
Patrick began his work with MSTFP in August of 2015, shortly after receiving his degree in Environmental Science from Fordham University. Throughout his youth, he had an interest in the natural world, eventually leading him to become involved in conservation, environmental education, and outdoor leadership. Before beginning college, he interned as an environmental educator at a nature center in his hometown. While attending college, Patrick developed a background in researching the evolutionary genetics and ecological habitats of various fish and crocodile species. He further pursued his love for nature by organizing and leading outdoor backpacking, climbing, and hiking trips through the Outdoors Club at his university. During a service project in Puebla, Mexico, Patrick discovered a strong passion for sustainable agriculture and food justice by developing an ecological center with local farmers and families. He aims to encourage both healthy, sustainable lifestyles and environmental conservation through education and experience.
Emmy Welsh, Serve Colorado AmeriCorps Member
Emmy has been surrounded by food for her whole life, and not just as a means of consumption. Hailing from the unending corn and soy-laden fields of Indiana, raised by a Le Courdon Bleu trained mother and a father who works in the natural flavoring food industry, she gained early insight to the power and magic of foods, as well as where most people get their food, how it's grown, and how it's produced on a large scale. A summer spent at an Amish farm camp in rural Ohio as a youngster further propelled Emmy into the real grit of sustainable food production and techniques. Leaving Indiana for the mountains of North Carolina, she pursued a degree from Appalachian State University with a BS of Communication Studies and a minor in Sustainable Development. While in school, Emmy regularly volunteered her time with organic farms in the region, and worked at two "farm-to-table" type restaurants where her passion for fresh, local, and healthy foods bloomed. The Montezuma School to Farm Project found Emmy through a miracle of sorts, and she hit the road as soon as possible to begin the incredible opportunity present. She believes in the holistic healing power of food and its integral connection to good health and a great life, and cannot wait to share in the learning with the school children of Dolores.
CORTEZ SCHOOL GARDEN TEAM
Danyel Mezzanatto, Cortez Elementary Schools Garden Coordinator
Danyel served as the MSTFP AmeriCorps VISTA before stepping into her current role. She grew up in Portland, Oregon and from a young age, struggled with staying attentive in a traditional classroom, but thrived with hands-on tactile learning. This led her to pursue art and design in college. Through study abroad and her personal travels, she was captivated by community development and nature-based tourism as a form of education. With a new outlook, she completed a Bachelor’s in International Eco Tourism and Outdoor Leadership from Oregon State University Cascades Campus in Bend, OR. She studied Experiential Education and became passionate about sharing the teaching philosophy with others. Danyel spent her summers raft guiding and worked as a museum camp counselor. Her senior year, she researched volunteer-based agro tourism on organic farms in Central America. Before MSTFP, Danyel worked as an Education Specialist at the High Desert Museum, volunteered on organic farms and completed a School Garden Coordinator certification. In the garden, she hopes to help students make connections between the outside world and concepts taught in the classroom.
Renee Nall, Cortez Middle School Garden Coordinator
Renee stepped into MSTFP's Cortez Middle School Garden Coordinator role in June 2016. She first discovered her passion for growing food while studying Soil Science at California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo and helping tend to ten-acre, organic, student-run, 100+ member CSA farm. After graduation, Renee continued growing food in her own elaborate gardens, and began learning everything she could about nutrition. She's been a part of the Mancos community for three years prior to joining MSTFP, working on various farms and cooking hearty meals for programs including Deer Hill Expeditions and Open Sky Wilderness Therapy. Now, with MSTFP, Renee has found a unique way to combine all of her passions and skills around farming, nutrition, and science.
Amy Moscowitz , Serve Colorado AmeriCorps Member
Amy joins MSTFP this fall with experience in environmental education and nonprofit administration. With a strong belief in the life-changing empowerment that is sparked by learning in an outdoor setting, Amy is excited to be a part of a healthy and creative organization that encourages participants to draw connections between themselves and the natural world. She has worked with the American Red Cross as part of the volunteer services department, spent summers guiding wilderness trips, led inquiry-based science lessons for a residential outdoor education organization, and most recently was introduced to (and loved!) garden based education. As an experiential and environmental educator, she loves seeing students working together to build a greater understanding of the world around them. Amy is excited to share the Mesa Elementary garden with the students and everyone who walks through the rows!
Maryssa Schlough, Serve Colorado AmeriCorps Member
Maryssa joined the Montezuma School to Farm Project in August 2016 as an AmeriCorps Service member at Kemper Elementary School. She recently moved to the Southwest from the Cheesehead State, after graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a Bachelor’s in Global Studies and a focus on Food Security. Maryssa has a background in digging in the dirt and teaching kids about the importance of growing food in Milwaukee with the organization Victory Garden Initiative. She loves travelling and lived extensively in Argentina, Peru and the Dominican Republic. Though she loves to experience new cultures, food and communities, Maryssa is excited to spread her roots in the Montezuma Area this coming year. She is also excited to get creative with experiential education and open kids' minds to whole foods from local gardens.
Michael McMillian, SERVE COLORADO AMERICORPS MEMBER
Michael joined MSTFP as an AmeriCorps service member in September of 2016. Michael has enjoyed working in the outdoors and growing things since childhood. Cultivating the land and sharing delicious homegrown food always proved to bring great people together, and this inspired Michael's dream to become a farmer. Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico but raised near Denver, Colorado he feels most connected and at home being in the southwest. Michael loves to travel and learn about other cultures, their languages and their relationships with nature. This lead him to pursue a double major in Environmental Science and Spanish language at Regis Jesuit University and travel through Central and South America. Since graduating from college, Michael has worked as a naturalist guide in the White River National Forest, an environmental educator in California, and a teacher for the Tandana Foundation in Ecuador. He looks forward to getting to know the communities of Montezuma County deeper and sharing his love of learning with the students at Cortez Middle School.
CAPACITY BUILDING TEAM
Sarah served as the Director of MSTFP from 2011 - early 2016, and stepped back in as the Interim Director as of December 2016. She has experience in non-profit organization as well as a farming/agricultural background. She has worked with Volunteers of America, the Women's Resource Center of Durango, the Durango Arts Center, Merely-Players Durango and KSJD Dryland Radio Station in Cortez. Syverson served as a farm apprentice at Green Gulch Farms in Marin County, CA, developed new production areas at Ojito Farm in northern New Mexico, and began her own farming operation in 2009 in the Mancos Valley. She also worked as a Cultural Director and Instructor for national and international students living and working on the Hopi and Navajo Reservations, on Sapelo Island, GA with the Gullah tribe and in the Dominican Republic. Sarah has a B.A. in Psychology from Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA, and is a certified Master Gardener through the CSU Extension program. She currently serves on the board of the Montezuma Orchard Restoration Project and is host of KSJD Dryland Radio's Big Fat Farm Show. She is passionate about farming, education and giving people access to healthy, fresh food on a daily basis.
ERIN BOHM, EDUCATION MANAGER
Growing up in rural Ontario, Canada, Erin learned to garden from an early age. She has worked as an apprentice with Master Gardeners and small acreage organic farmers on farms in New Zealand, British Colombia, and Idaho. For several years she designed and taught an organic gardening workshop series in southwest Colorado. Before becoming a garden educator, she worked for thirteen years as a wilderness guide throughout North America, leading sea kayaking, backpacking, and rafting expeditions. She received her degree in Cultural Anthropology and Environmental Studies from the University of Victoria, British Columbia, and then moved to the United States to work as a guide and educator at Wilderness Therapy programs. As an advocate of healthy lifestyles and the preservation of natural resources, Erin is committed to using outdoor classrooms to teach self-sufficiency skills. She believes that while children learn to grow organic food, they also learn how to live simply and to bring balance to their lives in a fast-paced modern world.
Christine Foote, New Programs and Systems Coordinator
Christine came to MSTFP in early 2015 with a degree in Environmental Policy and Planning and experience in the worlds of organic farming, nonprofits, and conservation leadership. After graduating from Virginia Tech in 2012, she spent time learning and working on small farms across the western US. Seeking more of this valuable hands-on experience, in 2013 she took a position based in Flagstaff, AZ, with American Conservation Experience. While there, Christine progressed from a corps member to a crew leader, ultimately coordinating field work in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, California, and Oklahoma. She rode her bike across the country in support of affordable housing in 2014 - passing through Mancos (now her current home) on the way. She feels strongly that everyone should have access to hands-on education connecting them to their local food systems, and also that the most enduring, impactful efforts are fine-tuned to their location’s idiosyncrasies. With MSTFP, she helps foster unique collaborations and experiential learning through program and system development.