Danyel Mezzanatto, Education Manager
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.
PATRICK ALFORD, 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.
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.Maryssa joined the Montezuma School to Farm Project in August 2016 as an AmeriCorps Service member at Kemper Elementary. Maryssa moved to Dolores from Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a Bachelor’s in Global Studies with a focus on Food Security. She has a background in digging in the dirt and teaching kids about the importance of growing food in the urban environment of Milwaukee with the organization, Victory Garden Initiative. She also loves travelling and has extensively lived in Argentina, Peru and the Dominican Republic. Though she loves to travel and experience new cultures, food and communities she is excited to spread her roots in the Montezuma County area for the next year. She is also excited to get creative with experiential education but more specifically opening kids’ minds about whole foods from a source close to home.
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.
Drew Watson, SERVE COLORADO AMERICORPS MEMBER
Drew started serving MSTFP as an AmeriCorps service member in August of 2017, the fall after graduating from St. Lawrence University with a degree in Environmental Studies and Sociology. Although he loved university classes, Drew felt stymied by an inability to take action on what he had learned. This led him to MSTFP, where he felt he could make the greatest impact in the most positive way. That desire to serve in a rural, agricultural community stems from his work on a small-scale organic farm, Bittersweet Farm, in Heuvelton, New York, where he worked for a year while finishing his degree. He also lived in an intentional living community at St. Lawrence, The Green House, where members worked on a local farm to pay off CSA shares, and then used the produce to feed 90 students each week and educate them on local food issues. His aim while serving at Montezuma School to Farm Project is to move children in the direction of self-sufficiency, a better understanding of food systems, and a love and appreciation for local vegetables and fruits.
Zoe Freedman Coleman, SERVE COLORADO AMERICORPS MEMBER
Zoe came to MSTFP from Massachusetts in August 2017 after studying English and Spanish at Skidmore College. From a young age, Zoe spent much of her time outside— building forts from branches, catching frogs in her hands, and jumping into rivers any time of the year. As a child, Zoe attended an elementary school that integrated communal gardening, animal care, field conservation, and natural observation into the academic curriculum, solidifying her love of the natural world as a space to explore and learn. In high school and college, Zoe worked as a field crew member on a local organic farm, and continued her love of experiential education by working as a Farm Camp counselor, teacher’s assistant at an outdoor kindergarten, and a wilderness trip leader, in order to provide others with educational experiences in nature. Whether poking holes in the soil to plant seeds, feeling the warmth of active compost, acting out the life stages of plants or cooking apples over a fire, Zoe embraces the intrinsic power of outdoor education to inspire curiosity and facilitate engaged learning in both herself and her students. As an Americorps, Zoe strongly believes in MSTFP’s commitment to empowering students in the outdoor classroom, helping families to access healthy, fresh, delicious food, and connecting students to the natural world.
Ellen Underwood, SERVE COLORADO AMERICORPS MEMBER
Ellen came to us from Eastern Pennsylvania where she had been inspired by a deep agricultural heritage and burgeoning local foods movement. Her interest in sustainable agriculture stems from a deep belief in its ability to heal many of the social, cultural, and environmental issues we face as humans today. This led her to study philosophy and environmental studies at Albright College where she sought to deeply explore the factors that create our worldviews and examine the interdisciplinary nature of how we view and use the environment. During this time, she worked for various local food producers including a mushroom farm, a raw juice business, and several organic vegetable farmers to gain hands on experience on how to successfully build a sustainable food community. She also ran the Community Permaculture Garden at Albright and managed the Sustainability House to grow as an environmental steward and develop a stronger environmental culture on campus. Upon graduating, she wanted to transform the theoretical and experiential knowledge she gained into meaningful work that would inspire others. When Montezuma School to Farm Project became a prospect, she was hooked. She felt it would be the perfect way for her to accomplish her goals and fulfill her ethics by working with student to encourage deeper inquiry, inspire environmental connection, and build a more sustainable community. She loves working here and believes the work we do has beautiful, tangible effects on students, families, and the community. She encourages everyone to join in this inspiring work through volunteering at the garden sites!
Dave Glenn, Director
Dave hails from Michigan having worked for Michigan State University for 28 years as a researcher/wheat breeder and also working as a County Extension Director in Presque Isle County overseeing 4H, Community and Economic Development, Family Nutrition Programs and serving as the regional Ag Agent. Dave is a 5th generation farmer from Michigan. He and his wife, Michelle, have worked their 80 acre farm producing vegetables intensively and organically on 2+ acres, have started and run farmers markets, and offered CSA shares and also raised various livestock - but mostly love raising sheep. Michelle and Dave also owned and operated their Farm to Table café - Chicory Café - focusing on local foods, flavor, and organic products. Other work for Dave have included international policy and capacity building, having specialized in conflict area work – having served in Iraq, Afghanistan, South Sudan, as well as many other countries. Dave has one daughter and 2 grandchildren back in Michigan. He is passionate at farming, food/health and participating in shaping the future for our youth in understanding and appreciating links between food and health and changing patterns that impact their future. Dave started with MSTFP in September of 2017 as Director.
Sarah Syverson, development consultant
Sarah served as the Director of MSTFP from 2011 - early 2016, and stepped back in as the Interim Director from December 2016 - September 2017. 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 Consultant
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 manager
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.
Learn more about the Mancos Conservation District Board, which oversees and supports MSTFP.
If you own land within the Mancos River Watershed, you are eligible to be on the board.
Contact us for more information!