l-r: Mary Beth Miller, Jo-Anne Pacheco, Cathi Cote, Kurt Van Dexter, Stu Nunnery - Missing from photo - David Hughes CLICK ON ARROW ABOVE TO VIEW ALL PHOTOS.
Network Coordination, Training & Team Building
Stu is the Director of the Rhode Island Center for Agricultural Promotion & Education (RICAPE). He is a writer, speaker, trainer and consultant who specializes in communications, education and partnership development with a special interest in issues of food, farm and the community.
"A garden at every school is not a new idea. Getting there, will be. There's no reason that we can't, together, make Rhode Island THE "Children's Garden State."And along the way, grow healthy and happy children, too."
Kurt Van Dexter
Garden Planning & Design
Kurt is an certified K-12 visual arts teacher, artist and landscape architect who provides comprehensive design, and education services to schools and youth programs across Rhode Island as well as to regional, national and international clients. Kurt leads the CGN design team.
As a landscape architect, Kurt is committed to connecting people with the natural environment, protecting and rescuing the natural environment, and advocating for organic approaches to land-care. He began working with schools to develop schoolyard garden programs in 1994, and has worked with dozens of schools in Rhode Island, helping them establish sustainable school garden programs.
"The generation of children today is less connected with the natural world than any generation before in history, ever... If we do not make a point now to change this trend, their ability to pass on natural knowledge to the following generations in order to help protect what is left of the the environment will be greatly diminished."
Mary Beth Miller
Mary Beth Miller is a horticultural therapist, master gardener, speaker, writer, and garden designer and founder of Gardening for Good. She is a past two-term member of the national board of the American Horticultural Therapy Association (AHTA) and holds a certificate in horticultural therapy from the Horticultural Therapy Institute, Denver, CO.
In 2005, the Rhode Island State Council of Granges honored Mary Beth as "Agriculturalist of the Year" for her work in horticultural therapy. Also in 2005, Gardening for Good was cited as "Best Gardening with a Mission" in Rhode Island Monthly magazine's "Best of Rhode Island" Editor's Poll.
Since 2004 Gardening for Good has received several awards for its educational outreach garden displays during the Rhode Island Spring Flower and Garden Show including "Best Creative Design" and the People's Choice Award. Gardening for Good is a partner organization with the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center in Providence, Rhode Island and provides horticultural therapy consultation and training services to the Rhode Island Children's Garden Network.
"I am always in awe to see the power of plants to help people grow, learn and heal. By adding the therapeutic component to a school garden program all students can benefit from their connection with plants in myriad wonderful ways. Whatever the goal, gardens and plants are a powerful tool." With sadness we report that our beloved Mary Beth passed away August 8, 2010. We will always miss her and be grateful for her inspiring work and life.
Community Building, Horticulture
Dave retired in 2001 from Compaq Computer Corporation, where he was a business manager for the North American Hardware Repair Business. Long before joining the computer industry, Dave was an oceanographer, earning a Master's Degree in Marine Studies from the University of Delaware. He worked nearly 10 years in that field, before joining Digital Equipment Corporation.
Dave joined the URI Master Gardener class of 2002. His first gardening experience was as a child of about 9, growing corn and radishes in his backyard. He became much more interested in horticulture when he bought his first home and realized he did not enjoy mowing all that grass. While volunteering as a Master Gardener, he worked on the Learning Landscape Children's Program.
Because of his research background in plant physiology, Dave was soon involved in helping to teach portions of the Master Gardener basic training plus the Spring, Summer, and Fall Gardening Schools offered by URI to the general public. That teaching plus some program management have turned into a full-time job at the Outreach Center for the URI College of the Environment and Life Sciences. Through that position Dave actively sought to be included in the Children's Garden Network.
In addition to science and gardening, Dave's major passions include travel, the arts, and life-long learning. His favorite plants are still the tall, bearded irises, though he is becoming a convert to native plants.
"Whether it's the arts, science, religion, philosophy, or business, strive to learn something new each and every day."
Environment and Ecology, Research & Administration
Jo-Anne Pacheco holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from Bryant University and a Master of Science degree in Environmental Education from Antioch University New England in Keene, New Hampshire.
Jo lives on the family farm, Hi-On-A-Hill Herb Farm & Gardens in North Smithfield, RI and where she coordinates farm-site educational programs and assists the Educational Division of Celestial Offerings apiary with their programs about bees and beekeeping. The apiary is located on the farm. Jo is also the creator of Farm Quest - learning adventures for people of all ages that connects them to their community's history through interactions with local farms.
"There's something about a garden that excites the senses and arouses curiosity, leading me to ask the questions who, what, where, why, when and how. And then all sorts of links to inter-disciplinary learning appear in my search for answers. For me, the garden is a never ending adventure in learning."
Cathi is a lifelong gardener who joined the Master Gardener Association in 2005. She spent many years as a project manager in the banking industry, but always found time to volunteer in children's programs, including Scouting and as a volunteer in the classroom. Today, she is an Education Specialist with the URI CELS Outreach Center, where she manages the Learning Landscape children's environmental education program. As a Children's Garden Network team member, Cathi's role is to develop and share recommendations about the many ways that teachers can use their school garden as a learning tool across multiple disciplines.
"The outdoor world around us is bursting with mysteries to solve and clues to follow. It takes the combined wisdom of the sciences, mathematics, and an historical context to fully comprehend what goes on in a garden. Tie these together with artistic expression and rich language skills that allow children to share what they've learned, and you can begin to see the true educational value of a school garden program."