Pam Lanz – Co-Chair

My love of gardening began back in the 1970’s while living in rural Vermont and has grown steadily through the years. When my husband and I moved to Maine in 1987, we immediately started vegetable and flower gardens at our new house. Word got out that I loved gardening at
the school where I worked as a Guidance Counselor. When the building was renovated in 1998-99, the principal asked if I’d put in some flower beds to brighten up the front of the building. When I said yes, she handed mea $300.00 Walmart Grant application and that was the beginning of the school gardening program at Manchester School. Twenty years later, we have three flower gardens, nine raised beds, a small fruit tree orchard, a hoophouse, garden shed and composting system. The students have been involved in all aspects of the gardens.  Over the years, I’ve found convincingly that the students get so much out of learning science in a
hands-on way,  having to problem solve and cooperate with their peers, while also learning the invaluable skills of growing and harvesting their own food and learning how to be responsible stewards of the land.

After retiring from my counseling job in 2013, I decided to apply for the Master Gardener Program in Cumberland County, something I’d always wanted to do. The program gave me extended knowledge and skills that I continue to use as the volunteer co-leader of the Manchester Gardens for Learning. In 2014 I joined the Maine School Garden Network Board because of my deep belief in the value school gardens have for students, staff and families. I also bring to the table direct knowledge and experience with the obstacles and challenges facing educators who support and want to be involved with them.

Kat Coriell – Co-Chair

I think I grew up spending more time outdoors than in, and I’ve always had a love of nature, animals and plants. My family did a lot of gardening, hiking and camping, and I spent even more time in the woods during many years in the Girl Scouts.  I decided to make the outdoors my career, so I went to college in Michigan and studied environmental education, horticulture, and then veterinary medicine.  After moving to Maine, I did volunteer nature guiding for kids at Thorncrag Nature Sanctuary in Lewiston, and created a school garden for my son’s second grade class. Years later, when I saw a presentation about the successful Troy Howard Middle School garden program, I got inspired to do something to spread the benefits of school gardens to kids around the state. So in 2008 I helped Jessica Bean re-start the Maine School Garden Network, which had been active in the early 2000’s, but had lost its leadership.  Since then MSGN has continued to grow, and we work hard to enlighten schools around Maine about the wonderful learning and fun a school garden program can offer their students. I believe its one of the most rewarding ways that a school can enrich their curriculum!

Willie Grenier – Treasurer

Willie Sawyer Grenier has worked with/and for Maine Agriculture in the Classroom (MAITC) since 1998, but her passion for agriculture in mainstream education is much deeper. In college she served as a 4-H leader and President of the Horseman’s Club. After graduating from UMaine with a degree in Vocational Agriculture and certification to teach Secondary Science, she taught for several years in Maine and the Maritimes before her destiny led her to study (and then teach) the art of floristry. In 1997 she discovered AITC and soon her volunteer role emerged into a part-time position. The organization has grown every year, especially with the addition of the Agricultural License Plate in 2007. Now the MAITC program is funding grants annually, writing curriculum, training pre-service and in-service teachers, and last year impacted over 200,000 Maine school children in grades Pre K – 12. She was recently promoted to President of National Agriculture in the Classroom. Willie is pleased to serve as Maine School Garden Network Treasurer and work closely with the coordinator to secure and manage funding to help the organization fulfill the overwhelming requests from schools across the state that are using a school garden project to teach across the curricula, while fostering stewardship, sustainability, good nutrition and more in the process!

Anna Libby – Secretary

Anna Libby grew up here in Maine and enjoyed helping in her family’s garden.  At the time, Anna’s favorite things to grow were claytonia and calendula.  Now Anna gardens on the same piece of land, though she prefers to grow peas and tomatoes.  She keeps chickens and bees as well.

Anna works at the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardners Association (MOFGA) as the Educational Programs Coordinator, helping to provide programming for gardeners and homesteaders.  She has worked there since 2013.  Previously, she worked with volunteers at other non-profits in Maine and served two years with AmeriCorps*VISTA.   She has served on the Maine School Garden Network board since 2016. We are so fortunate to have Anna!!

Richard Hodges

Richard is the Founder and Program Manager of ReTreeUS, a Maine-based program that establishes educational orchards in school, “growing trees of fruit and seeds of thought” www.retreeus.org. He is a Maine native who has also lived in Vermont and California. He has decades of experience as an outdoor educator, farmer and arborist. When Richard isn’t writing grants or working in orchards and gardens he is likely to be surfing or xc skiing. Richard feels passionately about educating younger generations about environmental stewardship and sustainable agriculture; “a brighter future starts with the youth and the soil”. Those who know him often think of kale when his name is mentioned

Jon Thurston

Jon was a teacher involved in school gardens for 27 years. He helped to found the Heirloom Seed Project at Medomak Valley High School. His last 10 years he was the garden coordinator at Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast.  He has worked as a mentor through Farm to School for the Falmouth School district and Walker school in Liberty.  Recently he is volunteering at the middle school and elementary schools in Belfast. We are so thankful to have Jon’s experience and knowledge on our team!

Kelsey Fortin

Kelsey is the program assistant for Maine Agriculture in the Classroom. Her work is focused on providing resources to schools and educators on how they can incorporate more agriculture into their curriculum. She has a degree in Community Health from the University of Maine at Farmington. Previously she worked at two different healthy community coalitions around the state and comes to the Maine School Garden Network with a public health lens. Kelsey is passionate about educating students and the community on where their food comes from and increasing the knowledge and awareness around the importance of locally sourced foods and good nutrition. We think she’s pretty awesome!

Ryan Parker

After graduating from the University of Maine with a Bachelors of Music in Performance, Ryan landed a job with the United States House of Representatives. He left the House to start his own commercial, micro-scale, diversified farm, which grew to become the largest year-round CSA in Maine. While building his farm business, Ryan became interested and involved in food and agriculture policy, and has lobbied and written extensively about both. Ryan joins FoodCorps after working with the Natural Resources Council of Maine to establish Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, and writing the book, literally, on school food waste reduction.