School Garden Project is fortunate to have a skilled, dedicated educational staff and a strong, engaged Board of Directors. Our program staff bring a combined total of more than 20 years of formal and outdoor education experience to our students.
Our Board of Directors includes a wide range of skills and experience. We have found that when board members are selected first and foremost for their passion about our mission and vision, they become deeply engaged with the organization. Of course, a broad set of applicable skills, from accounting to pediatric health and human resources to marketing, are also vital to our success.
Our highly qualified staff bring more than 20 years of combined experience in both formal and outdoor educational settings, and continually develop, implement and improve standards-based garden education programs which serve nearly 1,400 students in Lane County annually. Each year the classroom teachers whose students receive our services complete a year-end evaluation of our program to help us identify areas for improvement. As one of those teachers wrote, “[They have] fabulous class behavior management skills. Lessons were fun and engaging.”
Mindy Bell joined the team as Executive Director in 2018. A native Oregonian, she enjoys all the natural beauty our state has to offer. She has over 18 years private financial sector business management and national team-building experience. Mindy made a career change to the nonprofit world 7 years ago. She has built programs from the ground up, done advocacy work for underserved communities at the state and federal level and has most recently been working in development and fundraising.
As she lives in a house that is divided, she enjoys rooting for the Ducks and the Beavers at all sporting events. She, her husband and youngest son are all University of Oregon graduates. Her oldest son, the renegade, is an Oregon State University graduate. Mindy has been married to her master gardener for 31 years and enjoys canning and preserving the bounty from their garden.
Ingrid joined the School Garden Project team in July of 2018 as the Communications Director. Although a California native, Ingrid found her love of the Pacific Northwest while attending the University of Oregon, graduating with B.A. in English and Ethnic Studies. After settling down for a few years as a stay at home parent, Ingrid re entered the workforce first as a committed volunteer at her children’s elementary school – both as PTA president and as helping lead the charge in fundraising for public education. She also spent two years working as a development assistant with a local nonprofit dedicated to helping provide parenting tools and support for local families. Deeply immersed in the belief that children should be able to explore and think for themselves, she is also dedicated to the notion that children should learn to work within a community. Ingrid has served on two local boards – the Lane County Equity and Access Advisory Board which advises the County Administrator on policies and practices surrounding equity, inclusion, and access for our local community, and the Eugene School District 4J Equity Committee which advises the district and acts as a community catalyst in improving student success among students from racial and ethnic minority groups and economically disadvantaged backgrounds, LBGTQ+ students, students who have disabilities and students who speak languages other than English. While not helping to fundraise for public education and strategizing on EDI initiatives, Ingrid enjoys spending time with her two wild and wacky school aged boys and hanging out with her equally wacky nine chickens and two dogs.
Heather joined the School Garden Project staff in September of 2016. One of her earliest memories is sneaking out to her first garden to pull up the carrots to check on their progress. (Sadly, they didn’t get bigger after she carefully put them back in the ground!) With over a decade of experience in the nonprofit world as both an employee and co-founder of the HHH Foundation, Heather is thrilled to be back in her hometown working at an organization fostering the love of planting, growing and eating real food in children. A self-proclaimed “Italophile,” Heather loves to read and cook anything Italian. She is always running after her energetic toddler and two crazy pugs, Henry and Frankie.
Program Director & Garden Educator
Lucy joined School Garden Project in October 2016 as a Garden Educator. Hailing from Seattle, Lucy has always loved spending time outside and inspiring others to care for the earth through hands-on science experiences. Her work with educational non-profits in Maine and California has increased her enthusiasm and skill set for leading outdoor lessons. In 2010, Lucy interned at Chandler Pond Farm, in Vermont, and was struck by the importance of growing organic food and supporting local food systems. She is thrilled to combine her passions for science education and gardening with the students of Lane County. Lucy also enjoys playing soccer, hiking, playing harmonica, and cooking with friends.
Chris Sharpe is originally from Southern Maryland where he grew up playing outside in the woods every day and camping with his family on weekends. He studied History in Western Maryland at Frostburg State University. There his ethnobotanist roommate opened up a whole new way of looking at the woods. After college and a short stint with AmeriCorps he took a job as an environmental educator for a local nonprofit. It was there that he began to love learning and teaching students about our environment. After moving to Bend, Oregon, to work for Portland’s Outdoor School program he decided to further his education at Southern Oregon University, earning his MS in Environmental Education. Having resettled in Eugene, he’s excited about teaching students to garden and share his love of nature. In his spare time he enjoys tending to his home garden, camping, hiking, rock climbing, snowboarding, mountain biking, and live music.
Support Services Coordinator & Garden Educator
Motivated by completing the School Garden Project Seminar at the University of Oregon in 2002 Sarah began volunteering with SGP programs and served several years on the Board. In 2012, Sarah was hired by SGP as an official Garden Educator employee. Her previous work has encompassed garden education, nursery management, and farming. Growing up, Sarah’s experience taking nature classes and cooking fresh foods was a catalyst in her passion for educating children about gardening, insects, environmental issues and those interconnections. She holds an Environmental Studies degree from the University of Oregon, with an emphasis in sustainability and environmental education. Sarah enjoys gardening and hikes with her dog foraging for mushrooms in Oregon’s great outdoors.
School Garden Project works with an active and engaged Board of Directors. Our Board meets monthly, and engages in robust conversations about organizational direction. Members identify and address governance policy needs, work with staff to set strategic direction and revisit the strategy on a regular basis. Members participate in school garden volunteer activities and communicate with the wider community about their commitment to School Garden Project and are powerful ambassadors on behalf of the organization. If you are interested in learning more about our Board of Directors or would like to get involved please contact us at any time.
Alan joined the School Garden Project board in 2014. He loves to improve things- making School Garden Project’s fundraising and marketing more efficient and effective is the latest challenge. He also wants to expand School Garden Project’s business relationships. A UC Berkeley grad, Alan brings a passion for education and sustainability. He has extensive experience operating and marketing a local biofuel start-up, as well as consulting small business owners on effective human resources. His favorite garden experience is eating a fresh carrot right out of the ground. You’ll usually find him outside backpacking, rafting, and mushroom hunting.
Rich Howorth comes to the SGP Board with a strong background in elementary education and a deep passion for gardening. He retired from the Eugene School District in 2014 after a long career teaching 4th and 5th grades, including involvement with the School Garden Project at Bertha Holt Elementary during his last few years as a teacher. After retiring, Rich fulfilled a longtime personal goal by receiving Master Gardener certification through the Lane County Extension Service. He probably devotes more time to gardening than to any other activity.
Kelly is a Staff Accountant in the Moss Adams, LLP Eugene office. She holds a Master of Accountancy and a Bachelor of Science in Finance from the University of Idaho College of Business and Economics. She joined the School Garden Project in February 2014, shortly after moving to Eugene from Idaho. Kelly enjoys camping, fishing and gardening in her spare time and has fond memories of helping her grandmother in the garden from a young age. She hopes to bring her knowledge and skills to the organization to help it continue to develop and provide resources to the community.
Gail joined the School Garden Project Board in 2016. Now that she is retired from her position at EWEB in Purchasing/Risk Management, she is able to devote time to her other passions. She has volunteered with the SMART (Start Making A Reader Today) program at Awbrey Park Elementary school and found that working with children to become excited about reading was a rewarding and beneficial experience for her and the students.
She is excited about the opportunity to serve on the Board of School Garden Project and support the valuable work of keeping youth engaged in learning, gardening, nutritious eating and movement! Gail is passionate about anything that can provide a positive influence and advance the progress of our youth, whether it be reading, gardening or mentoring.
Ken is a local boy, having grown up in nearby Elmira. He graduated from Elmira High, Eugene Bible College (New Hope Christian College) and the University of Oregon.
Ken has been the Community Relations and Engagement officer at Rexius for the last 30 years. He is married to Pam and they have two children Connor and Bella.
Ken is active in the community as the Executive Director of The Hope Project. He is the President of the Board of University of Oregon Fellowship of Christian Athletes, president of The Oregon Club Board, serves on the board of the Southern Willamette Valley Multifamily Housing, the state board of the NW Multifamily Housing and the board of Incline Sports Academy.
Ken serves as the Team Chaplain for the athletic teams of the University of Oregon, Bushnell University and The Eugene Emeralds.
Jayne McMahan joined the School Garden Project Board in fall of 2016. As a life-long gardener, Jayne looks forward to helping to instill healthy eating habits in children and advocating for equal accessibility to healthy foods. As a City of Springfield employee, Jayne knows what it means to get out and get active with the community, working to facilitate annual food and gift drives for families in need and volunteering with Willamalane Events. Jayne brings a passion for children and believes that knowing where your food comes from, having a positive relationship with it and learning to grow your own promotes a healthy life-style which will lead to lifelong success.