Staff and Board of Directors
These people are the heart, soul, and brain power behind all RVF2S programs. Their expertise and enthusiasm leads to innovative, exciting programs for students throughout the valley.
Melina Barker, Program Director
Raised in southern Oregon, Melina developed a deep appreciation for the beauty and character of the Rogue Valley. Her love for the environment quickly let her to pursue a career in the outdoors. She has worked professionally educating youth and community members about the local environment and sustainability for over 10 years. After 8 years exploring Colorado, she returned to southern Oregon to live and work on organic farms in the Applegate Valley. She holds a M.S. in Environmental Education from Southern Oregon University. Melina began working for RVF2S in 2007 and is delighted to combine her love of farming, the environment and educating youth as the RVF2S Program Director. Melina lives on a small farm with her husband and two children. She spends her free time gardening, hiking, preserving food, and playing outdoors with her family.
Tracy Harding, Executive Director
Tracy has been with RVF2S since 2009, and became the organization's first full-time staff member 2012. She has been advocating for sustainable agriculture and healthy eating for more than 20 years. Her farm and food system involvement led her to create the Ashland Saturday Growers Market and join the OSU Extension Small Farms Program as a program assistant, both in 2008. Tracy is on the Oregon Farm to School and School Garden Network and the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center boards of directors. She is involved with Rogue Farm Corps, the OSU Extension Small Farms program, and the University of Vermont Food Hub Management program as a member of their advisory committees. Tracy is active with both the Rogue Valley Food System Network and the Oregon Community Food Systems Network working with both groups to increase the flow of local food to retail and institutional buyers through wholesale market development.
Anna Boesch, Seasonal Educator
Anna's passion for farming and education started in college, which inspired her to create her own major called "Connecting Communities with the Environment." After graduating, she taught garden education to K-8 students. She worked in Fairbanks, Alaska where she started a new school garden at a middle school and ran a summer job program for students in the garden. Anna has also worked as a garden educator in San Jose, CA where she worked with middle school students on a weekly basis and started a summer camp for elementary school students. As much as Anna loved teaching, she felt it was time to expand her skill set and learn more about farming. She and her husband leased an acre of land in Santa Cruz and started their own Community Supported Agriculture farm. After a successful year, Anna and Jeff decided to start their own farm, which led them to their 50 acre farm home in Gold Hill, Wandering Roots Farm. Now in their third year, with the farm well established, Anna is excited to be teaching again and developing education programs on their farm.
Christina Dawson, Seasonal Educator
Chrissy was born and raised in Washington State. She graduated from Western Washington University in 2013 with a BA in Environmental Education. During her time as a student she explored social structures and her passion for the natural world. Chrissy came to RVF2S as a FoodCorps Service Member working with students in school gardens for two years. As a RVF2S education staff member she is able to continue exploring these interests and all of the ways in which they interconnect. Chrissy enjoys working with kids for the sake of seeing things from a different perspective. When she is not in the garden, you can find Chrissy playing soccer, in the woods, at the beach, or in a cozy space sipping coffee and reading.
Brian Geier, Children's Education Coordinator, White Oak Farm and Education Center
Brian coordinates events for visiting children at White Oak Farm and Education Center in Williams, including preschools, field trips, day camps, and overnight camps. Since studying sustainable agriculture at the University of Maine, Brian has worn many hats within the worlds of food, agriculture, and education. He likes banjos, ultimate frisbee, fermentation, swimming, plays, movies, and a good sense of humor. Sharing farming, food, and wilderness with kids and friends are also among his favorite things.
Carly Holthaus, AmeriCorps Farm to School Leader
Originally from Kentucky, Carly’s heart became invested in sustainable food systems during her time on an organic farmstead in the northern part of her home-state. There, she experienced getting her hands dirty through farm-based learning, which inspired her to pursue an internship with a nonprofit that provides fresh produce to the food deserts of Louisville. Carly joins Rogue Valley Farm to School after spending one year teaching environmental and outdoor education in the mountains of California. She looks forward to the opportunity to continue to inspire a passion and love for the outdoors, with the hope it fosters an excitement for environmental stewardship. Carly is excited to live in southern Oregon with its hikes, rivers, and big trees.
Cassidy Mills, Outreach Coordinator
Originally from New York, Cassidy discovered her passion for sustainable agriculture and community development while studying at Florida State University, where she majored in International Affairs with an emphasis in Geography. During her time in Tallahassee, Cassidy helped launch and manage 3 organic learning gardens, including one at a local teen center. After 9 years in the Sunshine State, she returned to New York to join the staff of Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, where she was an instructor for their youth-focused summer program. Cassidy joins the RVF2S team after completing two AmeriCorps service terms as a food educator in Bellingham, Washington. In her free time, Cassidy enjoys biking, growing and learning about plants, dancing, and jumping into bodies of water.
Rebecca Slosberg, Program Manager
Rebecca loves any excuse to be outside and feels lucky to have a career sharing this love and enthusiasm of our local environment. Rebecca has worked as an interpretive park ranger and environmental educator all over the country from Alaska to Florida. She spent several years as an educator at an outdoor science school in California and moved to the Rogue Valley to get her Masters degree in environmental education at Southern Oregon University. Rebecca enjoys being out in the Rogue Valley, whether it’s hiking, skiing, backpacking, chasing after her children or helping kids get their hands dirty.
Monica Smith, Seasonal Educator
Born and raised in Oregon, Monica has a strong love for the Pacific Northwest. While farming on the Big Island of Hawaii, Monica dove into Weston A. Price’s traditional diet philosophy and found that food was either a powerful medicine or a slow form of poison. Having studied Dental Health Sciences at Pacific University prior to being in Hawaii she found the connection of the mouth, the gateway to the body, and the influence food can have on the entire body enthralling. Being part of the process of prepping, planting, harvesting and eating the food in Hawaii and seeing the impact it had on the community allowed her to be connected to the healers, farmers, chefs, eaters and the land itself. After returning to Oregon with a desire to work with the land, food and the human microbiome, she studied wholistic nutrition at The Wellspring School for Healing Arts in Portland. The program focused on the importance of foods and their energetics rather than just their nutritional structure. Monica enjoys gardening, biking, fishing, preserving food, making messes, playing the violin, reading in cozy nooks, sharing food, and exploring the wilderness.
Arielle Spayd, Seasonal Educator
Originally from Boulder, Colorado, Arielle found her heart in the Pacific Northwest while attending school at Western Washington University in Bellingham. There, she created a self-titled major called Community Education Through Food & Medicine. She found her passions through studying subjects that strengthened her sense of place: herbal medicine, wild foods, outdoor education and sustainable food systems. Arielle first came to southern Oregon in 2012 to intern at the Herb Pharm to expand her relationship with healing plants. She began interning with Rogue Valley Farm to School shortly after. Arielle believes she is happiest in life connecting with children, and the people who tend the earth. She is incredible thrilled to be able to share her love for plants, cooking good food, and the outdoors with children. Most of Arielle's days consist of playing with kids, cooking with her sweetheart, drinking tea, crafting, singing and cuddling with her 22-toed kitten.
Karen Tassinari, FoodCorps Service Member
Karen began exploring local food systems and whole foods cooking in 2001 while attending the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. As her knowledge and palette grew so did her landscape, leading her to work on farms and care for gardens. While she cultivated vegetables, the weeds captured her attention, sowing the joy of eating and foraging wild edibles. These food adventures led Karen to her passion for herbal medicine abroad and on the east coast. When she arrived in southern Oregon in 2008, she was introduced to a new variety of wildflowers and herbs, and how to grow them; she's been exploring and gardening them as an herbalist ever since. As Karen became more involved in the community, she found a niche in environmental and garden education, first as an RVF2S staff member and eventually leading to her current position as a FoodCorps Service Member. Karen shares her love and enthusiasm for the plant world with children on farms, at place-based environmental education programs, in the woods, camp and digging in the dirt with after school garden programs.
Amber Tidwell, Seasonal Educator
Amber has been volunteering with RV2S since before it's current inception, and is super-duper excited to finally be on staff! Amber believes in children, in organic farming, and in other magical wonders – most especially insects of all kinds and compost!! In fact, kids, dirt, and plants have been her greatest teachers for the last 15 years. Her favorite things to do in her spare time include raising her 12 year old son, growing a garden, riding her bike, playing with friends, learning to play the banjo, meeting new plants, swimming in rivers, romping through the woods, and making stuff like jam, shoes, plant medicine, and messes.
Elizabeth Tobey, Seasonal Educator
Elizabeth grew up on a small farm outside of Portland, Oregon and has had her hands in the dirt ever since. She is grateful for those early childhood experiences growing food and raising animals, and believes it is especially important to provide opportunities for all children to connect to the land and their food in a real, direct way. As she grew up and left home she continued to explore her love of the land, food, people, and how they connect. She spent several years traveling to various parts of the world, volunteering through World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, studying permaculture, farming, natural building, intentional community development, sustainable design, language and culture, writing, yoga, and dance. She has been in Ashland for a few years and is now living in community on her own small farm, Squawking Hawk Acres, which she is developing as a demonstration site and educational venue.
Board of Directors
Josh is a CPA and Rogue Valley native. He received his bachelor’s degree at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon, where he has lived for the last eight years. Josh has worked for Moss Adams, LLP since 2013 and consults with farmers and cooperative organizations up and down the west coast. Josh and his two brothers grew up with a love for the outdoors, spending winters on top of Mt. Ashland, and summers hiking, fishing, and rafting southern Oregon's rivers and streams. If you're ever looking for him on a weekend that's where you'll find him!
Erik is an attorney, father, husband and community advocate. Erik received his undergraduate degree from the University of Puget Sound in 1985 and graduated from the University of Oregon School Of Law in 1992. Erik joined the law firm Huycke O'Connor Jarvis, LLP, as partner, in 2011 where he continues to practice law with a focus on elder law, business law, civil litigation and estate planning.
Erik enjoys the outdoors with his family whether they are rafting down the Rogue, skiing, biking, fishing or spending time on their small farm in Talent, Oregon. Erik and his family are active in the community and are proud to be involved in the future of the Rogue Valley. Erik is a past member of the Siskiyou School Board where he was instrumental in creating and expanding the school to its current stature. He is a past member of the US Rowing Team and continues to compete in rowing for the Ashland Rowing Club.
Deborah completed her medical and family practice residency training through the University of California at San Francisco and the Family Practice Center in Santa Rosa, California. She was drawn to the beauty of the Rogue Valley as well as the outdoor and cultural opportunities we enjoy here. Deborah moved here in 1985 as the first Medical Director for the Clinica Del Valle, then called Clinica Azteca. Her current medical practice incorporates Classical Homeopathy, Family Practice, hormonal and nutritional therapies at Madrona Homeopathy in Ashland. Ever since she learned to garden during a medical school rotation in Takilma, Deborah has valued fresh, homegrown and organic food. A late in life introduction to competitive rowing sparked her interest in combining challenging athletics with a support for farms, and thus was born the idea of the Siskiyou Challenge. She is still rowing competitively as well as gardening and raising chickens for eggs at her home in Talent.
Robin is a native of West Linn, Oregon, which was previously a rural suburb of the Portland area, now developed. She received a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from the University of San Francisco, and completed medical school, residency and fellowship training at the University of California, Davis. She has lived in the Rogue Valley since 2001, and is a practicing pathologist at several regional hospitals and at a private laboratory, Vista Pathology, in Medford. She has two grown daughters who attended Ashland schools. She is an avid and active supporter of the local farming community, and has raised chickens, lamb and beef on property near Emigrant Lake. For fun, Robin enjoys cycling, rowing, hiking, her two dogs, and cooking and consuming the wonderful foods produced in the Rogue Valley.
Joan Ewer Thorndike
Joan is a flower farmer originally from Santiago, Chile. Her farm is Le Mera Gardens which is a part of Fry Family Farm, the Rogue Valley’s largest certified organic farm. For the past 21 years Joan has been farming and selling seasonal fresh flowers to Rogue Valley florists, do-it-yourself bridal parties, homes, restaurants & cafés, floral designers and lodging establishments. She has served on the board of directors of Rogue Valley Farm to School since its inception. She is the mother of two girls who grew up knowing what a compost pile is made of, how to eat close to the land, and to love farm grown flowers.
David Tourzan, Board President
David Tourzan has taught middle school math and science for 15 years, with an emphasis on environmental education and project-based learning. He was a co-founder of the Outdoor Discovery Program at Talent Elementary, and has volunteered for years with KS Wild and RVF2S, as well other community events. As a teacher, David has extensive contacts with local environmental groups and has collaborated with Lomakatsi, Coyote Trails, Bear Creek Watershed Education Partners, SOU, OSU Extension Service, RVCOG, Jefferson Nature Center, and Kids Unlimited. As a business owner, David co-founded Rising Phoenix Biofuels. As a father, David coaches both his son's soccer teams and involves his family in stream monitoring, watershed enhancement, and environmental projects that are both fun and educational. Say hi to the whole Tourzan crew up in the snow, biking the trails, or at the next community event.