Below are presenter bios for the 5th Annual School Garden Conference!
*Not all speakers are represented, these are updated as we receive them*
Wayne Roberts, Keynote Speaker
Dr. Wayne Roberts is a leading thinker and practitioner in the field of innovative local and urban food systems.
On a practical level, he managed the internationally-respected Toronto Food Policy Council on behalf of Toronto Public Health for 10 years up to 2010, and has served on the boards of several major food system non-profits across North America, including the Community Food Security Coalition, Food Secure Canada, Unitarian Service Committee: Seeds of Survival and FoodShare. He also played an instrumental role in helping a variety of municipalities – including Vancouver, Seattle, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Rotterdam, Bristol, Oshawa, and Kingston – form food policy councils or adopt food charters.
Dr. Roberts has been the lead or sole author of three books that have earned him respect as a food system analyst of global stature – Real Food for a Change (1998); The No-Nonsense Guide to World Food (2012, 2013); and Food for City Building: A Field Guide for Planners, Actionists and Entrepreneurs (2014). Among his many honors, he received the University of Toronto Arbor award for having established Canada’s first university-level course on food security research methods in 2004.
Wayne is in great demand as a conference keynote speaker and workshop facilitator – leading small roll-up-your-sleeves workshops on topics such as food charters, social media for public health promotion, local and sustainable food projects, and job creation in the food sector. Audiences appreciate his down-to-earth presentation style, his emphasis on personal empowerment and “continuous improvement” and his wonderful sense of humor.
Rick Sherman, Closing Keynote Speaker
Rick was hired by the Oregon Department of Education in 2012 as the Farm to School/School Garden coordinator after working for 32 years for a food service management company. The last 20 of those years have been spent as a Director of Nutrition Services in Eugene, Albany and Dallas (Oregon). Rick’s claims to fame were identifying all of Oregon’s school gardens-the first state to do so (currently there are 698 school gardens in Oregon!); developing a school garden food safety training & documentation manual; and operating a $4.5 million grant for reimbursing school districts that purchase Oregon grown and processed food & providing educational activities for students.
Rick Graduated from Western Washington University with a degree in Education. He was a runner for forty years, competing at the national level in the Steeplechase, and has been a high school track and cross country coach for 20 years. Rick is a Master Gardener, loves home brewing, & riding dirt bikes. He spends his spare time in his backyard garden and raising chickens.
Meghan currently teaches 5th grade at Halle Hewetson Elementary where she enjoys incorporating her love of gardening with her passion for teaching in the outdoor garden space made possible by the donors of Bank of Nevada and the Law Firm of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck.
Elizabeth Mapula is currently the program manager for the Food Preservation Program at the Cooperative Extension office. Elizabeth has a background in education and was previously an instructor the Pick a better Snack program.
My name is Shannon Bruno and I have been the counselor/garden coordinator at J.T. McWilliams Elementary School for 14 years. As coordinator, I run our school garden club for students, create school wide garden schedule. work with partners to add and improve gardens, and incorporate gardens towards improving school climate (ex: murals, parent projects, etc.).
My name is Phillip Vela and I am a science teacher at J.T. McWilliams Elementary School. I provide students with the hands-on component of science labs through FOSS, outdoor gardens and hydroponics. Prior to teaching science, I was a 5th grade teacher. You can checkout my website at https://mrvelascience.
Juliana Urtubey, Jessica Penrod, and Christene King
We are all teachers at Crestwood Elementary. We began our Gnomie Garden Club in 2014 and have loved every second of it! Come learn some strategies to organize, improve, and enjoy your schools's garden club.
Cheresa Taing, a Program Coordinator for Get Outdoors Nevada is responsible for various education projects aimed to strengthen our Southern Nevada community. As a native Las Vegan and a proud UNLV Rebel, Cheresa’s ambition is to connect students to Nevada’s great outdoors and inspire the next leaders in environmental stewardship.
Lisa Cheplak is a Certified Health Coach. She received her certification at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition and has had a long-time passion for health and wellness. Her nutrition education has equipped her with extensive, cutting-edge knowledge in holistic nutrition, health coaching and prevention. She works with clients to help make lifestyle changes and choose health-promoting ways that produce real and lasting results improving energy, balance, health and happiness. Lisa created the business “The Healthy Family” (www.thehealthyfam.com), which assists families in creating nourishing lifestyles by guiding them through their health and wellness goals. Lisa also created the blog “More Broccoli, Please!" (www.morebroccoliplease.com), which encourages healthy eating for kids by getting them in the kitchen. Over the past 5 years she has taught nutrition workshops and cooking classes kids and adults. Lisa also teaches gardening classes to students at Staton Elementary School and teaches cooking and nutrition workshops with Green Our Planet’s Chef-to-School program.
Jake Dick is employed the Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA) working with the NDA’s produce safety program coordinator to help prepare Nevada producers for upcoming Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) requirements. He also works with the drought initiative project and issues producer and vendor certificates for produce, eggs and honey. He previously worked in the NDA’s noxious weed program working with landowners to identify and control noxious weeds. His background is in conservation working with the Nevada and Utah conservation corps and vegetation monitoring in Northeastern Nevada. A little new to agriculture but he looks forward to working with Nevada producers.
Chris Gaynor serves as a Vice President, Relationship Manager for Bank of Nevada and currently manages a portfolio of commercial and personal accounts. She serves on the Board of Green Our Planet and is passionate about this great organization and all that they do! One of the many areas, GOP focuses on is Financial Literacy.
Statistics reflecting 70% of Americans living paycheck to paycheck is something every banker would like to change and with the assistance of Green Our Planet - we are on our way! In 2017, Bank of Nevada & Green Our Planet piloted a Financial Literacy program with 5 schools in the Las Vegas Valley. Students learned about what banks do, how banks assist with growth in a community, the differences between wants versus needs, entrepreneurship, what to think about when starting a business, customer service, negotiating, competition, marketing, profit margins, creating a business plan and having a back-up plan. The program has grown to 7 financial institutions participating in teaching classes and assisting at the Farmer’s Market with additional skills being taught such as cash handling, multi-tasking, etc. The goal is to have every financial institution in our community participating in this program with the end result of more young Americans having money saved!
James Hogue is a Food Service Supervisor for the Clark County School District, overseeing the HACCP Department responsible for all aspects of food safety, regulatory compliance and new hire training. He has been in the food service industry for 23 years and currently resides in Las Vegas with his wife and three children.
Mariana joined the Green Our Planet’s team a year ago as the Community Engagement Manager. In this role, her primary focus has been on further developing the school garden financial literacy program and building relationships with local financial institutions to support the Green Our Planet Garden Financial Literacy Program. Mariana is also a Senior Vice President at Bank of George. Prior to joining Bank of George, she was a banking executive at Sun West Bank of Nevada and City National Bank. Mariana has over 40 years of local business banking experience.Throughout her career, she has always been drawn to community relations work and was often the key liaison between the bank and local nonprofit charities. This included coordinating in-house employee volunteer and non-profit donation programs focused on benefiting children, with special emphasis on supporting STEAM education and financial literacy. She has also served on nonprofit boards of the Latin Chamber of Commerce and Helping Hands of Vegas Valley. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV). Mariana was born in Miami, Florida and has been a resident of Southern Nevada for more than 50 years. She and her husband, Bob, have been married over thirty years. They take great pride in their two adult children, Lindsey and Bobby, who also work and reside in Southern Nevada. In their spare time, the family enjoys cabin life in Southern Utah.
Originally from South Florida, Rosalie grew up with a backyard citrus orchard which instilled in her a passion for growing food. She continued pursuing gardening as a hobby while working as a paralegal for almost fifteen years. Rosalie became interested in farming for self-sustainability after reading The Good Life, chronicling Helen and Scott Nearing's homestead. In late 2015, Rosalie and her husband unexpectedly relocated to Las Vegas. Their house hunt was centered around one primary need: a large backyard. She spent a year converting her yard into an urban farm and adjusting to the unique challenges of gardening in the desert. Rosalie is very excited to be a part of Green Our Planet and to share her enthusiasm for gardening with future generations.
Kim MacQuarrie is a writer and a four-time Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker and the co-CEO and co-founder of Green Out Planet. He has an undergraduate degree in biology, a master's in anthropology, and lived in Peru for five years. During part of that time he lived with a recently-contacted Amazonian tribe, the Yora. A native of Las Vegas who has lived, studied-abroad, and worked around the world, Kim's most recent book is "Life and Death in the Andes: On the Trail of Bandits, Heroes, and Revolutionaries."
Gary Manning is a self-contained High School Special Education Teacher. The Teaching Garden at Coronado is entering its sixth year. The garden is used primarily for the Special Education students and is slowly being introduced to the Foods Program and the Gen Ed Science programs at Coronado. We grow Asparagus, Broccoli, Corn, Dandelions, Eggplants, Ferns, Garlic, Honeydew, Impatiens, Junipers, Kale, Lemons, Milkweed, Nectarines, Onions, Pumpkins, Queen bees, Radishes, Strawberries, Tomatoes, Ursinia, Violets, Watermelon, Xigua, Yams, Zucchini. Our students love working and eating in the garden and learning new skills.
McKenzie Mayor is a senior in the Nutrition program at UNLV and a Green Our Planet Chef. She is currently studying to become a dietitian as she has a passion for food and the important role it plays in the body. Upon discovering Green Our Planet, she knew that she wanted to be a part of the organization as it promotes environmental and culinary education to young individuals. By educating these future leaders, our efforts can help decrease food insecurity and increase the amount of healthier, happier lives.
Lisa Mullinix is a Reading Interventionist at Laura Dearing. She's been on the Garden Committee since 2014, and is honored to be the coordinator this year. Every grade level has connected with the garden and loday Lisa will share ways to utilize your school garden to its fullest potential.
Elizabeth Poglitsch began her career as a special educator in 2000. Following her passion, Elizabeth was named the assistant principal of Variety School where she leads a staff of 75 special educators. Together they educate K-12 students in self-contained learning environment for the Clark County School District.
Taylor Quiram graduated from UNLV with a Bachelors of Landscape Architecture. After graduation he worked at Friendly Aquaponics Farm in Honokaa, HI. before joining the Green Our Planet Team. Taylor has over 7 years of experience growing produce in aquaponic and hydroponic systems of all shapes and sizes. During his time with Green Our Planet he has worked to develop a STEM hydroponics program for schools that includes a STEM hydroponics curriculum for K - 5th grades.
Cynthia Radley is currently the Government Grants Manager at Three Square Food Bank. She also teaches Grants Management at UNLV Continuing Education Program and works as a grant writer and consultant. With a Master's degree in Education and Certificate in Non-Profit Management, Cynthia has had extensive experience working with non-profits.
Amber has a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Agricultural Education and a master’s in Public Affairs. She works closely with teachers, students, and partners to expose youth to 200+ career opportunities in food, agriculture, and natural resources; promote Nevada’s vibrant food and agriculture industry; and help create a more agriculturally literate population.