Our name honors benefactors Jeanette and Dr. Richard Bennett Parker. Dr. Parker, a microbiologist, was an American pioneer in probiotics. Decades before 21st Century DNA technology proved it, he taught that the natural world originates from invisible microbes.

Our Board of Directors

Annie Soto, PLG President, Executive Director Head Start Lane County

Annie was raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She earned a BA in Political Science at the University of Wisconsin. A few years later, Annie began her career as a preschool teacher and earned her Early Childhood Teaching Credential at San Francisco State College. She began teaching preschoolers at Head Start the year she arrived in Eugene. Annie has been the Executive Director of Head Start of Lane County since 1992. Annie has lived on her property in Creswell for 35 years where she has raised her two children, many dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, and a bounty of produce and flowers. She is a passionate advocate for children having the opportunity to experience and understand the natural world.

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Jenna Tilley, PLG Secretary, Organic Farmer

Jenna Tilley (Secretary) : Jenna was raised on a 120 acre farm on the outskirts of Philomath/Corvallis, OR. She spent the majority of her childhood immersed in the natural surroundings with her three brothers. Jenna attended Lane Community College and studied General Biology & Fine Arts, specializing in mycology and ethnobotany, later transferring to OSU to study Sustainability and Horticulture. She has worked at Shonnard’s Nursery in Corvallis, OR becoming familiar with landscape plants, fruit tree pruning/care and soil amendments. Later she worked at Wilt Farms, a certified organic berry farm in Corvallis, OR where she did a little of everything, from berry picking to grading the quality of the berries, shipping frozen berries, managing the website, soil samples, and maintaining the organic berry sanitizing solutions in the processing facility. Later, Jenna was drawn to Agrarian Ales Brewery in 2015, where she worked from dishwasher up to General Manager within five years. All the while at Agrarian, she worked multiple days a week on the farm year round, including trimming the fruit trees here at Rivers Turn Farm in trade for the fruit for making beer at Agrarian. In 2018 Jenna and Nate started a relationship and are now married, living in the farmhouse at Rivers Turn Farm, where they grow their own gardens, as well as volunteer their time to maintenance the Parker Learning Gardens section of the land. They have two children and have taught a STEAM based homeschooling curriculum for several years, with the thought of teaching them to save the planet in mind everyday. They have a large interest in seeing this project succeed.

Gale Hulihan, PLG Treasurer, Woods Worker Refugee

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Nathan Tilley, PLG Director, Organic Farmer

Nathan grew up a mile from Rivers Turn Farm where his parents have operated an organic farm for 35 years, specializing in growing chile peppers for local farmer’s markets. While studying mathematics and philosophy at Oregon State University for six years, Nathan developed a side interest in their Fermentation Science Program. This launched him into starting a farmhouse brewery (Agrarian Ales Brewing Co.) on his family property with his brother. Agrarian Ales taught Nathan how to wear the many hats of starting and operating a small business that included organic farming. At various points throughout the brewery’s six years of operation Nathan took on many roles: Brewer, Farm Manager, Lead in Marketing and Sales, Distribution, Graphic Design… After the closure of Agrarian Ales Nathan built a farmstand to focus on small scale organic farming with his wife Jenna. Nathan’s wheelhouse includes experience in: gardening/farming, team/volunteer management, construction, and business operations and planning.

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Dylana Kapuler, PLG Director, Organic Farmer

Mario DiBenedetto, PLG Director, Organic Farmer

Robin Winfree-Andrew, PLG Director, Retired Teacher/Admin

Robin grew up in Alabama and has lived in Oregon since 1972. Living on a large cooperative commune in Western Lane County in the 1970’s educated her about growing food and becoming self-sufficient. Throughout the years since then, she has been a craftsperson, a writer, a teacher, and a school administrator; while working at Head Start of Lane County, she created and supervised school gardens (with Farmer John Sundquist) and garden-related lesson plans related to teaching children about where their food comes from and how to harvest and prepare meals. At the Eugene Waldorf School, she guided volunteers to create their school garden; there, yearly crops of wheat are grown, harvested, winnowed, and baked into bread. She was a Board Member at the Waldorf School, and a founding member of Forestland Dwellers, an organization that sought to map and publicize herbicide sprays in Lane County logging operations; she also participated in the Oregon Pesticide Action Work Group, and has worked with Beyond Toxics. Robin has 7 children and 10 grandchildren, and brings a love for and knowledge of children and plants to our work.

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Jen Cisneros, PLG Director, Family Support Coordinator for Head Start Lane Co.

Jen Cisneros (Director/Fundraising + Curriculum Committee): Jen grew up on 46 acres in the Oregon countryside. She has her Kinesiology degree with an emphasis in Early Education. For the past 8 years she has worked at Head Start of Lane County as a Family Support Coordinator. She loves traveling, outdoors, and gardens with her husband and two daughters. Her family has been visiting Rivers Turn Farm for about 7 years and has made many memories, they are excited to see what Parker Learning Gardens can provide other families in the community.

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Marsha Sundquist, PLG Director, Retired Teacher

Marsha has lived at Rivers Turn Farm for close to 40 years. During that time her and her husband, John, raised 2 boys, and changed the farm from a flat 33 acres with a modest filbert orchard into a family farm covered with fruit trees and bamboo. Farmer John did the gardening, with Marsha providing support. While working on and enjoying farm life, Marsha taught 8th grade for around 30 years. Now, following John’s passing, Marsha is providing support for John’s dream, Parker Learning Gardens. Marsha and John hope to provide some of the benefits of learning about, and to love, the world of plants that we have been able to enjoy all these years with other children and families.

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Betty Rust, PLG Director

Diane Albino, PLG Director