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 [Juliana Urtubey, Jessica Penrod, and Christene King] 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.
Sue has been part of the Green Our Planet team since July 2018 as the Teacher Training Manager. Sue previously taught 29-years, 23 of which were spent in CCSD at Lummis Elementary. She has always used the garden as an outdoor laboratory to teach children about nature, science, and the miracle of growing food.
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 the Chef Program Manager for Green our Planet and is a Certified Health and Nutrition Coach. She is excited to be a part of this organization as it is a strong passion of hers to educate children on healthier eating habits. Lisa loves working with kids and parents to help them make lifestyle changes and health-promoting ways that produce real and lasting results improving energy, balance, health and happiness. Lisa loves teaching simple ways for students to prepare and love the fruits and vegetables that they helped grow in their school garden. Lisa created the website,www.lisacheplak.com, as a resource and guide for creating healthy meals and inspiration for healthy living.
Kerri is an upper elementary teacher at Foothills Montessori School. She has a master’s degree in Education, a bachelor’s degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, and her Montessori certification. As the FMS garden coordinator, Kerri is always thinking about creative ways to spread her enthusiasm and incorporate Green Our Planet’s philosophy throughout the school.
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.
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.
In her role with Whole Kids Foundation, Stephanie manages the day-to-day administration for the organization's foundational grant programs and serves as a primary point of contact for past recipients and new applicants. Previously, she worked as a Research Coordinator on an NIH-funded study on family-based treatment for childhood obesity.
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.
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. Rosalie became interested in farming for self-sustainability after reading The Good Life, chronicling Helen and Scott Nearing's homestead. Rosalie is very excited to be a part of Green Our Planet and to share her enthusiasm for gardening with future generations.
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.
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 is plays in the body. Upon discovering Green Our Planet, she knew that she wanted to be a part of the organization. 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.