About Us

On THE CAPSTONE you'll meet passionate individuals from across the country working on changing our food system in a vareity of ways. They select their capstone project as part of their requirement for the Master of Science in Sustainable Food Systems at Prescott College. 


Featured Guests, Season 2

Mariah Hachmeister
Episode 7

Mariah Hachmeister is committed to community and culture building and is approaching graduation from the Master of Science degree in Sustainable Food Systems at Prescott College. She has an academic background in Psychology, Sociology, and Women's and Gender Studies. She credits the time spent volunteering, working, and participating in study experiences, both in the United States and abroad, as fostering an interest in the food systems at the intersection of community, health, and the environment. Mariah is passionate about the issues of food access and security, food waste, and human relationships with food.



Robin Currey
Special Guest, Episode 7

Dr. Currey is faculty and Director of the Master of Science in Sustainable Food Systems at Prescott College teaching courses related to Food Systems Sustainability. Dr. Currey is an ethnoecologist specializing in biodiversity in small-scale agricultural systems, or home gardens. Dr. Currey served as faculty and as the Director of the Master of Science in Sustainable Food Systems (MSFS) program at Green Mountain College. In addition to her experience at GMC, Dr. Currey is an ethnoecologist, the former Director of Mercy Corps in Kyrgyzstan, an international development and humanitarian organization, and the current non-executive Director for a Mercy Corps-founded bank. Her work with Mercy Corps in Kyrgyzstan grew from her efforts to understand and influence the sustainability and resilience of small-holder agro-pastoral systems to address inequalities in the food system. 

Robin’s work focuses on food systems at the nexus of nutrition, agroecology, micro-entrepreneurship and rural finance for small-holder farmers. She holds a M.Sc. in Resource Ecology and Management from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. from Florida International University with a focus on the ethnoecology of agroecosystems.

Karlee Shields
Episode 6

Karlee Shields lives in Ghent, NY, a small town located in the upper Hudson Valley region, and has lived there her entire life. As an undergrad, she studied Public Affairs and Public Policy and held an internship with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets working for the nutrition program unit. She began her graduate studies at Green Mountain College and transferred to the Masters in Sustainable Food Systems program at Prescott College. Her experience working as a farm hand and in the commercial kitchen piqued her interest in learning to sustainable livestock farming and inspired her to write her Capstone on the importance of Sustainable Meat Choices. Karlee is now working as a faculty instructor in the Agriculture, Meat Science, and Food Technology program at Central Wyoming College.

Wendy Sue Harper
Faculty Advisor, Episode 6

Wendy Sue Harper, Ph.D. is currently an associate faculty member at Prescott College in the Food Systems Sustainability Master of Science program. A soil scientist, she teaches agricultural science courses that focus on sustainability, ecological management, and systems thinking. Dr. Harper served as a Scholar in Residence in the Master of Science in Sustainable Food Systems program at Green Mountain College. She inspects crop farms and processors for organic certification with the Vermont Organic Farmers. She teaches about soils, composting and ecologically based agricultural practices for healthy soils and crops. Previously she worked for the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) developing educational programs for vegetable and berry farmers. Dr. Harper taught and advised students and developed ecologically-based curriculum at the University of Vermont for 18 years in the area of soil science and ecological agriculture. She holds a M.S. in Forest Resources from Penn State and a Ph.D. from the University of Vermont in Plant and Soil Sciences.

Claire Tuohey-Mote
Episode 5

Before beginning the MSFS program, Claire Tuohey-Mote worked as a product developer in the natural ingredients sector of the food science industry. After leaving that work, her passions led her to volunteer for sustainable businesses and nonprofits, and to work on special projects in food access and local food promotion. Upon graduation, Claire will pursue work in food systems connection building in San Luis Obispo County, with the long-term goal of working at the intersection of agricultural education and food as medicine. She is passionate about building community health through outdoor education and human-to-nature connection. In her free time, she can be found creating wedding cakes, backpacking through the Sierra Nevada Mountains, tending the garden and chickens, or guiding tours at the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden.

Emily Mehr
Faculty Advisor, Episode 5

Emily Mehr is an alumni of the MS Sustainable Food Systems program at Green Mountain College, graduating in 2013. Emily focused her studies on farm to school/early care education, developing and implementing a farm to preschool curriculum and pilot program.  She currently works for the MN Department of Agriculture administering various programs relating to urban agriculture, farmers’ markets, and increased food access for both farmers and consumers in the land of 10,000 lakes.

Dave Kuder
Episode 4

Dave Kuder lives in Sacramento CA with his wife and three children. He has spent the last 12 years as an active duty Air Force member, a contractor and Reservist, but realized his calling in agriculture about 7 years ago. In 2016, he earned a certification in Permaculture Design through the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center in Occidental CA. Dave also co-founded and runs an online farmer’s market called Placer Farmer’s Marketplace in Placer Co., CA, with his wife and business partner. Additionally, he spent 2019 running a no-till regenerative market garden called Lincoln Hills Farm in Lincoln CA. He is interested in building a stronger presence of local regenerative agriculture in the Sacramento Valley through marketing and hopes his Capstone Project, a marketing guide for small and medium sized farmers, can help him accomplish this.

Hava Villaverde
Faculty Advisor, Episode 4

Hava Villaverde, JD, MBA is Faculty Director of Prescott College's MBA in Sustainability Leadership and a practicing attorney specializing in corporate and transactional law, real estate development, and environmental law.  She spent many years working in the retail grocery industry and puzzling through issues related to food waste.  

Her various roles have combined the corporate legal industry knowledge she has built over the years with business acumen that allows her to confidently develop programming, advise students, and teach courses focused on sustainable business principles.  Hava loves to connect people and develop networks for those that want to learn more about making the world a better place.

Chad Snader
Episode 3

Chad Snader was born and raised in Ephrata, Pennsylvania and immediately joined the Air Force after high school. After two years in Montana, Chad moved to Delaware where he lived for over 21 years. He is currently a full-time member of the Delaware Air National Guard and moved back to his beloved Lancaster County in 2016. Chad earned his AA in Criminal Justice from the Community College of the Air Force and his BA in Homeland Security from American Military University.  Finally breaking the mold of his military career Chad enrolled at Green Mountain College in 2017 to pursue his Masters in Sustainable Food Systems, a move that much more aligns with his interests and values. He has a daughter, Lila, that will start a nursing program at Wesley College in Delaware in the fall of 2020 and is engaged to Cindy. Chad and Cindy run Making Roots Farm, a Certified Naturally Grown farm, and have put much blood, sweat and time into ensuring the farm remains sustainable, productive and emotionally rewarding. Always learning, often informally, Chad pursues his interests of agriculture, exercise and sustainability, squeezing in leisurely fishing and walking his pup Bailey as much as possible.

Hava Villaverde
Faculty Advisor, Episode 3

Hava Villaverde, JD, MBA is Faculty Director of Prescott College's MBA in Sustainability Leadership and a practicing attorney specializing in corporate and transactional law, real estate development, and environmental law.  She spent many years working in the retail grocery industry and puzzling through issues related to food waste.  

Her various roles have combined the corporate legal industry knowledge she has built over the years with business acumen that allows her to confidently develop programming, advise students, and teach courses focused on sustainable business principles.  Hava loves to connect people and develop networks for those that want to learn more about making the world a better place.

Courtney Bonzo
Episode 2

Cortney Bonzo is a native of rural, upstate New York, but has called many places home over the years; from Southern California, to Pennsylvania, and most recently North East Ohio. She is a full-time mother of four children: Kadyn 14, Piper 11, William 8 and Crue 5, and is lovingly married to her husband of 15 years, Dayne. Cortney’s experience as a parent and her undergraduate work in Child and Family studies provided a solid background for her capstone project which focuses on family-based learning approaches. Cortney’s personal interest include; learning new cooking techniques, home-gardening, self-reliance, as well as exploring primitive camp sites with her family. Cortney’s life goal has been to embed herself in the bioregional foodshed where she resides, and to contribute to the necessary work of creating a more sustainable and just food system. Cortney’s upcoming relocation to Fairbanks, Alaska, will certainly create a new and exciting challenge.

Lloyd Sharp
Special Guest, Episode 2

Lloyd Sharp's professional experience includes teacher preparation and substitute teaching at the elementary level; teaching all four levels of high school English at Patagonia High School in Patagonia, Arizona; and 13 years at Pima Community College teaching four levels of scholarly writing. In addition, Lloyd taught multicultural adolescent literature for Northern Arizona University in the NAU-Nogales School-Based Teacher Education Partnership. Since 2004 at Prescott College, Lloyd has served as an Education mentor in the Limited Residency Undergraduate Program, a Graduate Mentor and Core Faculty in the Master of Arts Program, and Core Faculty in the Master of Arts Program in Education and The Master of Education Program.  In addition, she has an active private business that offers tutoring, editing, and writing workshops for graduate and undergraduate academic writers.

Alex Sawatsky
Episode 1

Alex Sawatsky was a history major in college but found his passion for growing food while participating in a nine-month internship at a sustainable living and environmental education center in Costa Rica. When he returned to the US,” he began a farming career as an intern at Living Hope Farm in Pennsylvania in 2010. He then went on to start Sandbrook Meadow Farm in Stockton, NJ—a certified organic vegetable farm and CSA. After the 2018 season he passed the torch to his long-time assistant manager, so he could focus on completing his Master’s degree in Sustainable Food Systems and pursue his dream of becoming an educator in sustainable agriculture. Alex began working as the Student Farm Manager at Rutgers in April 2019 and is also a part-time instructor in the Agriculture and Food Systems Program. His ultimate goal is to help change the way that food is produced and consumed in the world. In pursuit of this, he aspires to teach others about the connections between food, agriculture, and community systems, and inspire others to contribute toward positive change.

Wendy Sue Harper
Faculty Advisor, Episode 1

Wendy Sue Harper, Ph.D. is currently an associate faculty member at Prescott College in the Food Systems Sustainability Master of Science program.  A soil scientist, she teaches agricultural science courses that focus on sustainability, ecological management, and systems thinking. Dr. Harper served as a Scholar in Residence in the Master of Science in Sustainable Food Systems program at Green Mountain College. She inspects crop farms and processors for organic certification with the Vermont Organic Farmers. She teaches about soils, composting and ecologically based agricultural practices for healthy soils and crops. Previously she worked for the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) developing educational programs for vegetable and berry farmers. Dr. Harper taught and advised students and developed ecologically-based curriculum at the University of Vermont for 18 years in the area of soil science and ecological agriculture. She holds a M.S. in Forest Resources from Penn State and a Ph.D. from the University of Vermont in Plant and Soil Sciences.

Philip Ackerman-Leist
Faculty Advisor, Episode 1

Philip is the Dean of Professional Studies and the School of the New American Farmstead at Sterling College. He is also a farmer, raising grassfed heritage beef in Pawlet, Vermont, where he and his family live on a remote off-grid homestead. He has spent the past 35 years exploring sustainable agricultural practices both with his students and his family, framing his teaching and academic research with farming experiences in the Alps, North Carolina, and Vermont. He is the author of A Precautionary Tale: How One Small Town Banned Pesticides, Preserved its Food Heritage, and Inspired a Movement; Rebuilding the Foodshed: How to Create Local, Sustainable, and Secure Food Systems; and Up Tunket Road: The Education of a Modern Homesteader.  With interests in digital storytelling and supporting environmental activists, he and his collaborators at the Lexicon of Sustainability partner created the “Toppling Goliath” multimedia project, www.topplinggoliath.org, focused on the first town in the world to pass a binding referendum calling for the elimination of all synthetic pesticides. At home and as an educator, he tries to combine a farmer’s pragmatism with a teacher’s collaborative quest for the future. Sometimes it works.

Chris Ridgway
Podcast Editor and Soundtrack Producer

Chris Ridgway has always had a passion for sound and audio recording and production. After completing training at the International School of Audio Engineering in Brisbane, Australia, Chris began his career working as a Sound Recordist and Video Post Production Sound editor with The Audio Visual Unit of the Queensland Dept. of Health, producing training and educational programs. Later Chris left to pursue a freelance career producing training videos and programs for other government departments and private firms. As a musician, Chris transitioned to music production and recording, producing commercially released music albums, and collaborating informally with the Australian Broadcasting Commission's various radio programs to provide audio and music support for including national outside broadcasts and comedy musical segments. Later in 2003, Chris moved to the U.S., and with a change to home country came a change in career. Now providing Export Shipping Logistics for a Biotech firm in Athens Ohio, Chris continues his audio production work on a part-time basis working with clients to produce music albums, poetry, soundscapes, interviews, and voice-overs.  


Featured Guests, Season 1

Sherri Pinero
Featured Guest, Episode 6

Sherri Pinero is a certified diabetes educator and registered dietitian. With over 20 years of dietetics experience, Sherri has worked in clinical nutrition, community outreach, in sales and marketing, and is an entrepreneur. For the past 9 years, Sherri has worked at Kaiser Permanente in Health Education/Preventative Medicine, where she facilitates classes on diabetes, lifestyle weight management, and heart health plant-based nutrition interventions via in the classroom and through cooking programs. As part of her role at Kaiser, she works with children with diabetes and their families in the Pediatric Endocrinology Clinic. Early on at Kaiser, she was asked to take on the role as the Riverside Regional Diabetes Committee Chair to assist in the development of a lifestyle-based weight management program that is offered to members (patients) throughout Southern California Kaiser Permanente’s. 

As an entrepreneur, Sherri was a professional food service consultant for over 10 years, helping restaurants and food manufacturers launch new food products and recipes, source ingredients, provide recipe analyses and customized meals for large-scale businesses such as dLife, and help meet her client’s goals while strengthening their brand.

Cassie Greenberg
Featured Guest, Episode 5

Cassie Greenberg has spent the last ten years in the arts and culture world working in fundraising and nonprofit management. She was honored to work for several organizations in the New Jersey and Philadelphia regions, where she had the chance to participate in and witness the power of art with some of the countries most renowned artists. While this has been thrilling, Cassie has also always had a deep appreciation for our food system and the role it plays in our lives. It was after her two daughters were born that her interest in food systems issues became heightened and she decided to combine graduate level studies in the field with the skill set she developed in the nonprofit world to, as she puts it, support businesses interested in changing the world—one plant and one plate at a time!.

Hannah Keitel
Featured Guest, Episode 4

Hannah Keitel lives in Denver, CO and currently works as the Programs & Outreach Manager for Slow Food Denver where she manages programming, fundraising, communications, and events for the organization. She will be stepping into the role as Director and is excited to continue strengthening Slow Food Denver’s work for a more just and sustainable food system. Hannah strives to change the way people understand and connect to their food. Through her work, she seeks to empower youth to become active participants in the food system, leading programs that engage kids in hands-on learning to connect with the land and their food. She actively supports school gardens, works to strengthen relationships between food producers and food consumers, promotes biodiversity conservation, and strives to bring food traditions back to the forefront of cultural cuisine. Outside of work, Hannah loves cooking, hiking and spending time with friends and family.

Brooke Franklin
Featured Guest, Episode 3

Even before entering graduate school, Brooke Franklin loved to cook. She and her husband bought their dream property on three acres and began planting fruit trees, gardening, and raising chickens. Through this hands-on experience she became increasingly aware of problematic issues in the food system in the United States and was inspired to pursue her passion to help create a more sustainable food system in college. Brooke aspires to gain a career where she can educate others on sustainable practices and animal welfare. She’s still active gardening and cooking, but also enjoys being with her family, reading, running, and playing violin.

Molly Fenske
Featured Guest, Episode 2

Molly Fenske is a Senior Associate with K·Coe Isom providing animal agriculture with sustainable solutions by working with agribusinesses to identify opportunities for improvement and protect their farming and ranching activities. She has a passion for helping farmers do what they do best and finding ways to enhance their productivity. Molly specializes in on-farm analyses, conducting bilingual (Spanish/English) employee trainings around animal welfare, managing client challenges and delivering new solutions. She consults with agribusinesses on K·Coe Isom’s Cultivate e-learning program, an online educational training, testing, and tracking program, designed specifically to help producers protect their operations and build farm culture. When not on the farm collaborating with producers, Molly loves traveling, hiking and summertime bicycling to breweries.

Hava Villaverde
Faculty Advisor, Episode 2

Hava Villaverde, JD, MBA is Faculty Director of Prescott College's MBA in Sustainability Leadership and a practicing attorney specializing in corporate and transactional law, real estate development, and environmental law.  She spent many years working in the retail grocery industry and puzzling through issues related to food waste.  

Her various roles have combined the corporate legal industry knowledge she has built over the years with business acumen that allows her to confidently develop programming, advise students, and teach courses focused on sustainable business principles.  Hava loves to connect people and develop networks for those that want to learn more about making the world a better place.

Wendy Sue Harper
Faculty Advisor, Episode 2

A soil scientist, Dr. Wendy Sue Harper teaches agricultural science courses that focus on sustainability, ecological management, and systems thinking. Dr. Harper served as a Scholar in Residence in the Master of Science in Sustainable Food Systems program at Green Mountain College. She inspects crop farms and processors for organic certification with the Vermont Organic Farmers. She teaches about soils, composting and ecologically based agricultural practices for healthy soils and crops. Previously she worked for the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) developing educational programs for vegetable and berry farmers. Dr. Harper taught and advised students and developed ecologically based curriculum at the University of Vermont for 18 years in the area of soil science and ecological agriculture.

Mike Dewes
Featured Guest, Episode 1

Mike Dewes has 25-years of experience working in the culinary industry and currently works as Culinary Director for the Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier, Vermont. Over the course of his career as a chef, culinary educator, and program director he came to realize that the world of food extends far beyond the kitchen or dining table, and that culinarians can play a vital role in improving the sustainability of the food system overall. Mike aspires to create an educational space where culinary arts and food systems sustainability intersect. When not cooking for students, friends, or family, he enjoys hiking and cycling in the Green Mountains of Vermont.

Andi Sciacca
Faculty Advisor, Episode 1

Andi Sciacca mentors start-ups in the food, tech, and education space. After serving as dean of instructional and faculty development at The Culinary Institute of America, she launched her own start-up focused on increased access to education. She developed the curriculum for the CIA’s graduate program, The Food Business School, and worked as a coach for Seth Godin’s Business of Food Workshop. Andi served as a Course Catalyst and Corps Member for +Acumen––and completed her certificate in social sector leadership with Berkeley-Haas. Andi is a Certified Lean Launch Educator, who most enjoys helping small-scale organizations and start-ups (particularly those in the food space) test their concepts, practice their pitches, and bring their ideas to life. Andi was on he leadership team of the Milwaukee Public School’s Pro-Start Chef Mentoring program––and serves as an advisory board member of The Commons and Co:Lab, both of which function as idea incubators and project accelerators. She is also the lead faculty member for the CIA’s Capstone Course in Food Business for the foodservice and CPG track, and leads development for all of the FBS open-enrollment online courses.  In addition, she is the President of the Board of Directors for Cultivate MKE, a nonprofit dedicated to providing essential food-systems education, training, and career placement to underserved populations in Milwaukee and the surrounding areas.   

Chris Ridgway
Podcast Editor and Soundtrack Producer

Chris Ridgway has always had a passion for sound and audio recording and production. After completing training at the International School of Audio Engineering in Brisbane, Australia, Chris began his career working as a Sound Recordist and Video Post Production Sound editor with The Audio Visual Unit of the Queensland Dept. of Health, producing training and educational programs. Later Chris left to pursue a freelance career producing training videos and programs for other government departments and private firms. As a musician, Chris transitioned to music production and recording, producing commercially released music albums, and collaborating informally with the Australian Broadcasting Commission's various radio programs to provide audio and music support for including national outside broadcasts and comedy musical segments. Later in 2003, Chris moved to the U.S., and with a change to home country came a change in career. Now providing Export Shipping Logistics for a Biotech firm in Athens Ohio, Chris continues his audio production work on a part-time basis working with clients to produce music albums, poetry, soundscapes, interviews, and voice-overs.