Jennifer grabner - Executive director & co-founder
Jenny and her husband Keith have lived in Southern Boone County since 1998, and each of their 3 kids – Benjamin, Nicholas, & Samantha – are students in the Southern Boone County R-1 School District. Her love of gardening, farming, and all things outdoors was fostered early by many summers spent on her grandmother’s farm in Callaway County, Mo. Jenny earned a B.S. in Biology from Southeast Missouri State University in 1991, and an M.S. in Forestry from the University of Missouri in 2002. She worked as a Research Botanist with the Missouri Department of Conservation for about 10 years, and was the owner/operator of a small cool-season vegetable farm for 5 years.
In 2007, with her dear friend Lesli Moylan, Jenny helped start the Learning Garden as a small after-school club for a handful of 3rd & 4th grade students (Lesli’s & Jenny’s eldest sons were both in 3rd grade at the time). From the very beginning, the outpouring of support & encouragement from the school district, the community, the parents, & the students has been absolutely amazing. Jenny is extremely honored to serve as the Learning Garden’s director - where she is able to utilize her education, work & life experiences fully while also learning tons of new skills regularly - to help SBLG continue to grow & mature as one of Missouri’s premier community-based school garden programs.
For questions about the Learning Garden or any of its programs (school day classes, after school clubs, Farm to School, farmers market efforts, workshops, etc.), please contact Jenny at JennyG@sblearninggarden.org.
kelly redford - garden manager (independent contractor)
With a life-time of backyard gardening, a BS in Forestry and 25 years experience in Commercial/High-end Residential/Institutional landscape/grounds maintenance, Kelly Redford strives to make the Learning Garden a place everyone wants to visit. The Garden should be a place that is functional, productive and beautiful, that can benefit not only students but the community. Her involvement in the community through Girl Scouts, PTA, volunteer firefighting/fire prevention ed., and substitute teaching help keep her close to try and meet the local needs of the Garden.
While community is important and necessary, the education of our children, when done well, truly benefits us all. Having a Learning Garden that provides hands on learning gives our students an advantage. Not to mention, having great experiences in a practical but beautiful setting, doing positive, skill-based activities makes learning fun! Kelly is thrilled to be able to put her skills to use in such an amazing way.
amy collette - accounting manager (independent contractor)
As Accounting Manager, Amy Collette focuses on the financial data for the Garden. She received her BSBA degree in accounting, obtained her CPA license, and has over 20 years of experience serving accounting & bookkeeping clients. The financial skills are what she currently brings to the Garden, but she developed a passion for the Garden’s mission several years ago as a parent volunteer helping with programs & activities. A developing home-gardener herself, Amy believes strongly in the mission & vision of bringing outdoor, hands-on learning to students & helping them to develop healthier habits for life.
Katie Molitor - GARDEN EDUCATOR (2016-17 AMERICORPS Member, Missouri healthy food americorps project)
Katie Molitor, originally from St. Louis MO, has been a resident of Boone County since 2009. Katie graduated from Mizzou in 2014 with a BA in Psychology and Sociology and minors in Anthropology and Leadership/Public Service. During her time as an undergraduate Katie developed a deep passion for volunteering in the community, local food systems, and year- round gardening.
After graduating in 2014, Katie entered Mizzou’s Master in Public Health (MPH) program and accepted a position working with Safe Kids Columbia as a Certified Car Passenger Safety Technician and managed the MU Children’s Hospital’s Happy Garden. While in the MPH program , Katie gained valuable teaching experience as a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Office of Service Learning .
Katie spent 2015 working with Sustainable Farms and Communities managing Access to Healthy Foods (a program that matches low income families’ SNAP dollars at the Columbia Farmers Market) and is currently conducting research on the health benefits of the program. Katie is excited to use her teaching experience and passion for public health, especially access to healthy food options, as a Garden Educator at SBLG!
To contact Katie about Learning Garden classes at the primary and middle schools or the Elementary After School Garden Club, please email her at KatieM@sblearninggarden.org.
Lexi Henson - garden educator (2016-17 Americorps member, missouri healthy food americorps project)
Lexi Henson is a 2011 graduate from Southern Boone County and recently graduated in 2015 from the University of Missouri with a Bachelors Degree in Health Science. In college Lexi completed her internship with the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services. Lexi worked on a project called “Fit-tastic” that focused on healthy living for children between 2 and 5 years old. She also participated in the WIC garden and did a partnership with the MU Interdisciplinary Center for Food Security implementing program called “Plant, Grow, & Share”. Lexi became interested in gardening, education, and sustainable living during this time.
Lexi started her Masters in Public Health with an emphasis in promotion and policy, in August of 2015 and had the opportunity to write a grant for Sustainable Farms and Communities to help pay for an architectural plan and feasibility study to create a permanent residence for the Columbia Farmers Market. She also just completed an AmeriCorps position with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Missouri, where she gained experience working for a non-profit as well as working with families and volunteers.
Getting this position with the Southern Boone Learning Garden as the Garden Educator is exciting for her since she gets to share her passion and knowledge with the people in the community she knows and loves.
To contact Lexi about Learning Garden classes at the elementary school or the Elementary After School Garden Club, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.