Raised by nature-loving parents, Harry Alper grew up in Boston, MA. His “edible” revelation came in college, when he learned to garden and forage for food in the wild. As a chef educator at Ashe, Harry enjoys teaching children to try new foods, build community through project-based learning, and appreciate honey bees. He believes that having a relationship with the natural world is part of living a full human experience, and a place where you can find joy, peacefulness, and a sense of belonging. Harry can frequently be found organizing to advance justice, equity, and freedom for all people. He also believes in the simple power of relaxing on his porch, and waving to his neighbors.
Greenhouse Manager & Site Gardener, Ashe
Marsha Bard grew up in Winslow, Maine, and has lived in New Orleans since 2008. The seeds of Marsha’s gardening career were first planted when a friend sent her roma tomato seeds in the mail. She went on to study horticulture at Delgado and began her time with ESYNOLA as a garden intern five years ago. She is passionate about ethical and safe food production methods, and food waste awareness. She enjoys working with volunteers in the garden almost as much as she loves volunteering herself. In her spare time, Marsha loves hanging with her cats, crocheting, singing, baking, and making messes.
A native New Orleanian, Claudia Barker comes from an Italian family with a love of good cooking and enjoying food in community. A strong proponent of teaching children where food comes from and how to prepare it in healthy ways, she also believes that we can change the world by attending to children’s social and emotional needs and teaching them respect for life. When Claudia’s not leading the charge for development and communications at FirstLine and ESYNOLA, she can be found reading and writing, hanging out on her screened porch with family and friends, or walking in City Park with her dog, Red Bean.
Amelia Bird, originally from north central Florida, comes with a background in environmental studies, nonfiction writing, and book arts. She wants all children to be able to forge an imaginative relationship with the natural world, and have access to good food in a joyful setting. She is passionate about visual aesthetics and operations, and wants ESYNOLA’s inner workings and communications to have the hand-crafted, joyful, and deeply considered nature that our classes and spaces do. When she’s not working behind the scenes at ESYNOLA, she might be creating something with her hands or swimming with her daughter Indigo, but most likely she’s making some kind of list.
Associate Garden Educator, Ashe
Olivia Bowers is a born and raised (and proud) New Orleanian. Growing up in New Orleans has given Olivia a sense of inseparable responsibility to both herself and her community, and she hopes to share this sense of responsibility with students. With a background as a professional dancer, Olivia now moves with purpose through the garden at Ashe. She believes connections to the earth and our food have the potential to restore purpose, power, and hope back in our lives, and that these kinds of connections remind us that we belong and are tremendously resilient. She works to let students discover those connections for themselves, and to bring more beauty, justice, and tenderness into the world. When Olivia is by herself, she’s reading, writing, laughing, crying, and still dancing.
Lead Garden Educator, Ashe
Born in Nashville but raised in St. Louis, MO, Rahn Broady has always been a child of nature, always in the woods. With experience teaching biology in the Bronx and cooking in California before coming to New Orleans, the root of Rahn’s edible career is a desire to to help students shake off the effects of the human nature deficit. Rahn encourages youth of color to have ownership of the natural world by modelling and inspiring boundless curiosity. He considers himself a guide and fellow lifelong learner about nature and science, and believes that our students are the best ambassadors to their families and immediate communities. Rahn is also an obsessive home gardener, ice cream ingenu, and dancer in the street.
Lead Chef Educator, Green
Megan Brummer grew up in Colorado, has lived in Iowa and Washington D.C., but New Orleans is her heart and forever home. She earned her Masters in Social Work and Public Health at Tulane University. Megan worked in the HIV social work field before finding her calling in culinary education. As a chef educator, she is passionate about cooking and trying new foods, exploring other cultures and cuisines, eating for joy and nourishment, the trouble with sugar, and the necessity of salt. She believes our work promotes equity, and has the power to decrease violence, increase educational success, and foster happiness in students’ lives. When she’s not in the teaching kitchen, Megan might be lifting heavy things, running as fast as she can, listening to live music, or eating and laughing with her family.
Lead Garden Educator, LHA
Matt Durham grew up gardening and exploring forests near the border of Rhode Island and Connecticut. His interest in edible education began in college when he was working with kids on urban farms and school gardens. Matt knows children can be leaders in stewardship of the natural world, and believes it begins when students see life in the garden. As a garden teacher, he strives to show children interconnectedness, and believes that that through experiencing these connections students will share a deep knowledge of where food comes from and the work and love it takes to produce it. An outdoorsman all around, Matt loves to explore nature, and can often be found running, fishing, birding, or hiking.
Associate Garden Educator, Green
Jahmal Hurst is from Uptown New Orleans. He was once a student at Green, where he now teaches, and his children now attend. Jahmal cares strongly about affecting change in youth that can propel them to greatness. As a teacher, he strives to open students’ eyes to the world around them and teach them how it works. He believes his students will make smarter choices in life because they have been exposed to life in ways many others haven’t had the chance to. When he’s not teaching garden classes or coaching, Jahmal can be found on Lake Pontchartrain eating seafood with his family.
Site Gardener, Green
Regi Jones is from Fayetteville, NC, where they studied at Chowan University. After moving to New Orleans last year, Regi fell in love with sustainable agriculture while doing a year of service at Okra Abbey Community Garden. As a gardener, they work create spaces where young people can enjoy being outside and discover a passion for gardening. Regi believes that through programs like ESYNOLA people will be inspired to grow good food and good relationships with each other. When their hands aren’t in the dirt in the Green garden, Regi is probably cycling, cooking, or watching Living Single.
Associate Garden Educator, LHA
The seeds of Jane Madden’s work with ESYNOLA were planted in Baltimore, MD, where she was first employed as a garden educator for the Living Classrooms Foundation in 2004. She has been working in garden classrooms ever since. With a background in visual art, Jane knows we all learn best by doing. She believes that what children find in our classes can lead them to comfort, joy, wonder, camaraderie, and even bravery. As a garden teacher, Jane seeks to teach children responsibility for the care of tools, plants, animals, themselves, and each other. She loves biking, drawing, daydreaming, taking pictures, and spending time with people she loves.
Associate Chef Educator, Ashe
With a background in radio broadcasting and experiential education in Maryland, Jay has been teaching since 2008. He is most passionate about fostering good relationships with students, and the health of the families we serve. As a chef educator, he believes social emotional learning is a crucial part of youth development, and strives to thoughtfully include social emotional learning aspects in as many hands-on kitchen lessons as he can. When he’s not teaching, Jay can be found navigating his bike around pothole-strewn streets of New Orleans, at a local music venue or festival, or spending time with his wife and rambunctious cat Dee Dee.
Serve Louisiana Garden Educator, LHA
Born and raised in Richmond, VA, Zoë Minnick comes to ESYNOLA with a degree in Elementary Education and Sociology, and a passion for holistic health education. She believes garden education can grow human potential in all realms: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. At LHA, she loves to see students exercise their curiosity, awe, and wonder about the world, and she believes the garden is so healing because it is always growing and changing. Zoë loves practicing and teaching yoga, backpacking in the mountains, and watching the sunset.
Site Gardener, LHA
Born and raised in south Louisiana, Mallory Naquin is a Community Dietitian and master gardener. Studying nutrition showed Mallory how little health literacy was covered in our educational system. It is her mission to offer evidence-based nutrition lessons that give individuals autonomy over their own wellness and healthcare. Mallory believes that food is personal, and it is the strongest tool she uses to care for herself and her family. When she’s not working in the garden at LHA, she can be found with her daughter exploring every green space they can find, endlessly cooking and taste testing, and of course gardening.
Associate Chef Educator, Green
Alana Neuman, originally from Washington, D.C., came to New Orleans to study Latin American Studies and Public Health at Tulane University. In her role as a chef educator, Alana enjoys seeing children spark curiosity about different foods, find joy in cooking and sharing a meal, and build confidence and pride in what they’ve made. She believes in the transformative power of knowing what’s in your food. In her classes, she works to ensure that children cook food that will nourish their bodies and minds. Alana loves baking, learning languages, exercising, and going to the beach.
Network Garden Manager
Emily Neustrom, born and raised in Lafayette, Louisiana, found her love of plants when working at the Acadiana Park Nature Station. She has a certification in horticultural therapy, and loves sensory plants, compost, beekeeping, and growing food. Emily believes that while health outcomes can be persuasive, the personal connections made between teachers, students, and each other in peaceful garden spaces are the most powerful outcomes of our program. She works to create gardens where youth can see, hear, smell, and exist in the world as equal and active participants. When she doesn’t have her hands in the dirt, she’s playing music, dancing, and laughing with family.
Associate Garden Educator, Wheatley
The daughter of a garden teacher, Marlena Nip grew up in Alameda, CA. With a love of teaching gardening and cooking instilled in her at an early age, she became a FoodCorps service member in Hawaii, and then oversaw the FoodCorps program in Mississippi before joining the ESYNOLA team. Marlena loves the ownership children take over the school garden. After seeing students who struggle in the classroom work hard so they can have extra garden time, she believes the garden has the power to heal. When she’s not teaching, cooking, making kombucha, and doing yoga in New Orleans, Marlena can be found backpacking in the mountains.
Lead Garden Educator, Green
Zach O’Donnell, the son of science teachers in Chicago, has been an educator since 2006. He has a science teaching certificate from San Francisco State University, a certificate in Ecological Horticulture from UC Santa Cruz’s Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, and a B.S. in Biology from Saint Louis University. Before joining ESYNOLA, Zach lived in Mozambique where he worked as a field agronomist. Using gardens as educational spaces combines Zach’s passions for science, growing food, education, and playing in the dirt. When he’s not teaching garden classes or laying under trees and looking up, he is probably going for a very long run.
Director of Social & Emotional Learning
Originally from Mobile, AL, Kerrie Partridge grew up in a family of gardeners and fishermen. After exploring teaching children in sculptural welding, dance, and Montessori pre-school, Kerrie earned her B.A. in Education and Human Development from the University of New Orleans. After years as a school teacher, Kerrie became interested in the ways social determinants of health impacted children’s learning and development. This led her to a Masters in Public Health in Maternal and Child Health from Tulane University. After serving children for more than 15 years, Kerrie holds the conviction that we build a strong community when we nourish children as whole and precious beings, and support them in their path to self discovery. When she is out in the world, Kerrie is a creator, dog lover, dinosaur-glitterer, dancer, star seeker, and yoga teacher.
Serve Louisiana Chef Educator, Ashe
Leah Snyder grew up in Western New York, and attended college in Vermont. Leah developed a strong passion for healthy living and nutrition in college and while living on farms as a Willing Worker on Organic Farms (WWOOF). She wants to share with students the positive effects that come from making your own food. As a kitchen teacher, she hopes to help students understand where their food comes from and the importance of using herbs and spices when cooking. Leah loves roasting vegetables, consuming music, and hanging out with her lizard Rutabaga.
Lead Garden Educator, Wheatley
Charlotte Steele hails from New Jersey, but it was in Michigan where she discovered the magic that is local food and farmers markets that inspired her lifelong love for food and the people who grow it. As an educator, she places importance on the therapeutic aspects of nature and community. Charlotte uses Emotional Freedom Techniques and other brain-based strategies to help children learn how to identify their needs and meet them self-sufficiently. She has been garden education staff at Wheatley since our program began there, and she believes that food is life. Don’t be surprised if you see the garden teacher students lovingly know as “Ms. Charlotte Cantaloupe” fiercely skating with the Big Easy Rollergirls.
Associate Garden Educator & Gardener, Wheatley
Braian (pronounced Brian) Tomé was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and grew up in Miami, FL. He first became interested in horticulture at Florida International University, where he studied environmental science. Braian has worked at farms, nurseries, and botanical gardens, and was an agriculture extension agent in the Peace Corps in Paraguay. Cultivating lush gardens and cooking and eating delicious food is Braian’s passion. He wants to live in a world where children have a deep appreciation for nature, and learn to grow their own food and cook it at home. When he’s not teaching and gardening at Wheatley, he might be playing soccer, practicing yoga, gardening and cooking at home, or running out of oxygen in a steam room.