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.
Jenna grew up 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 studying General Biology & Fine Arts, with a focus on mycology and ethnobotany. After attending OSU to study Sustainability and Horticulture, Jenna worked with Shonnard’s Nursery, becoming familiar with landscape plants, fruit tree pruning/care and soil amendments. From the nursery Jenna moved on to Wilt Farms, a certified organic berry farm where she did a little of everything: berry picking, quality control, packaging, website, soil samples, and final berry processing. In 2015 Jenna was drawn to the farmhouse brewery Agrarian Ales, where she became General Manager. At Agrarian, Jenna helped operate the restaurant and hop farm. Jenna has two children, one of whom she has home-schooled for several years. With a driving interest in sustainable agriculture, Jenna would like to see Parker Learning Gardens thrive for the sake of her children, the community, and the future of our planet.
Gale has led a life of sustainability in Oregon. With the Hoedads Reforestation Cooperative he helped rebuild the forest ecosystem; on the Mudchart Crew of the Second Growth Cooperative he helped with wetland mitigation; and working with the state he helped create Spotted Owl habitat. Gale sees Parker Learning Gardens as place to teach future generations to “work with the world, not from it… so we can survive as a species”. Gale has been on the Parker Learning Garden’s board for 3 years.
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.
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.
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.
Betty grew up on a farm learning from her younger years the importance of gardening and raising livestock. She worked for the forest service for 7 years planting trees and taking attendance of the number of people traveling certain trails. Betty raised her family off grid for 15 years honing her skills in goat husbandry, cheese making, butchering, beekeeping and farming blueberries, strawberries, and asparagus. She worked for a commercial plant stand operation growing and selling flowers. Betty is excited to see PLG thrive and help teach today’s youth the excitement and history of where food comes from and how to maintain a fruitful garden year round.
Nathan grew up in Eugene area where his parents have operated an organic farm for over 35 years. While studying mathematics and philosophy at Oregon State University, Nathan developed an interest in the Fermentation Science Program. This launched him into starting a farmhouse brewery with his brother where Nathan took on many roles: Brewer, Farm Manager, Sales, Graphic Design. Nathan is presently busied operating a farm stand focused on small scale organic farming with his wife Jenna.
Dylana Kapuler, PLG Director, Organic Farmer
Mario DiBenedetto, PLG Director, Organic Farmer
Diane Albino, Member at Large