Staff Directory

Karen von Huene

Executive Director

Karen comes to Community GroundWorks by following a serendipitous career path. Until 2008, when she became the Executive Director of Wisconsin Lakes, a statewide lake advocacy organization, Karen worked in community-based social service agencies. She has had the unique opportunity to change her focus from social work to working with water, environmental advocacy, and stewardship.

Karen relocated to Madison from Santa Fe, NM, a decision driven by a desire to be closer to water and a verdant landscape. Having spent most of her adult life in the desert southwest, she has much more experience with water conservation than the average Wisconsinite. Karen lives in Waunakee on Six Mile Creek with her husband, Karl, a lab named Harper, and too many cats.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, sitting, tree, grass, outdoor and natureNicole Niebler

Administrative Assistant

Nicole joins Community GroundWorks after studying nutrition and global health at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Drawing her to Community GroundWorks was her passion for increasing access to healthy, local foods and educating communities about the connections between food, health, and the environment. She is frequently found playing ukulele, sipping tea while writing poems, or trying to break her record of petting 29 dogs in one day.

Garrett Peterson

Farm Director

A lifelong Wisconsinite, Garrett landed in Madison in 2006, where he was introduced to the thriving local food movement and has been working on discovering his role in it ever since.  Instrumental along his journey has been time spent with Fitchburg Fields, Community GroundWorks, Voss Organics, Edgewood College’s Sustainability Leadership Program, and the Community Action Coalition. Garrett is grateful for the opportunity to help others connect to this land and organization.  

Annali Smucker-Bryan

Farm Education Manager

Originally from Pennsylvania, Annali hails most recently from Waco, Texas where she worked on an educational farm and ran an after school gardening program for two years. In January of 2013 Annali and her husband Zac moved to Madison for its vibrant local food scene and bikeability. Working at a chocolate shop in the off season, Annali worked at Troy as an intern the last two seasons and fell in love with farming in the North and the unique Troy community. Passionate about food, earth care and education, Annali is very excited to join the Community GroundsWorks staff as crew leader for the farm. When she is not farming, you can often find her biking places with her husband, spending time with her church community, and cooking and eating the food she grows.

Cathryn Herlihey

Farm Crew Leader

Cathryn is excited to join the farm crew for her first year at Troy and her fifth delicious season as a vegetable farmer. Originally from Illinois, Cathryn has lived across the U.S. - farming in West Virginia and Conneticut, cooking for cowboys in Montana, living off the grid in Oregon, bike wrenching in Chicago, pedicabbing in New Orleans. Back again, the midwest can't be beet as Cathryn's all thyme favorite place to farm.

Ginny Hughes

Education Director & Bookkeeping Clerk

Before joining Community GroundWorks in 2012, Ginny earned a master's degree in Environmental Leadership from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado.  She is delighted to share her love of growing vegetables with kids and adults far and wide. When she's not in the garden, she enjoys hot yoga and organizing things.

Nathan Larson

Director of the Cultivate Health Initiative

Nathan Larson is the director of the Cultivate Health Initiative, a joint project of Communtiy GroundWorks & The Environmental Design Lab at UW-Madison to grow the school garden network and movement in Wisconsin. He joined Community GroundWorks as the Education Director in 2006. He has worked as a garden and nature educator for the past sixteen years. Nathan provides professional development for school teachers, college students and community educators locally and nationally through workshops, courses, and trainings including the annual Growing Minds course. He writes garden-based curricula and recently authored Teaching in Nature's Classroom: Core Principles of Garden-Based Education. Nathan—a third generation Madisonian—lives with his wife and children at Troy Gardens. In addition to growing food, he thoroughly enjoys skiing on freshly fallen snow and walking barefoot in the sand.

Stefanie Bugasch Scopoline

Training and Outreach Specialist

Originally from Minnesota, Stefanie is excited to continue to build roots here in Madison through Community GroundWorks. After graduating from UW-Madison in Environmental Studies and International Studies, Stefanie worked with the organization Amir to build summer camp gardens across the US and Canada. She is incredibly thrilled to bring this experience to help grow the Wisconsin School Gardens Network. Stefanie loves the power of food and gardens and their ability to inspire creativity and connection. While not attending to her own garden at home, Stefanie can be found coaching volleyball, baking and preserving food, or playing board games.

Beth Hanna

Farm to School Director

Supported by the UW School of Medicine and Public Health's Wisconsin Partnership Program, the Wisconsin School Garden Initiative aims to build off the success of the Got Dirt? Garden Initiative to employ youth gardening and garden-based education strategies to reduce rates of overweight and obesity in Wisconsin's children. Beth is eager to use her background in teaching and Public Health to get more Wisconsin kids in the dirt. 

Renata Solan

Communications Manager

Renata is originally from New Jersey but is proud to call Wisconsin her home. She joins Community GroundWorks' Wisconsin School Garden Network after completing Master's degrees in agroecology and environmental communications. She loves to hear and tell stories about the infinite ways that people connect with each other and with their environments through food and gardens. Renata spends her free time gardening, knitting, and exploring the state with her husband and daughter. Her favorite places include Pope Farm Conservancy in Verona and Wisconsin Concrete Park in Phillips.

Jennica Skoug

Goodman Youth Farm Manager

Before joining Community GroundWorks, Jennica earned a master's degree in Environmental Education from UW-Stevens Point, where she helped run environmental education programs and care for 33 chickens at the Central Wisconsin Environmental Station. Jennica has worn a variety of educational hats, such as coordinating a school garden program in Kalamazoo, Michigan and teaching math as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Vanuatu, where she gardened next to banana trees. Her love of well-grown food and the outdoors began in her family's garden, from which she sold gigantic zucchinis out of a little red wagon with her brother. Besides vegetables, Jennica enjoys collecting corny jokes and puns, early morning runs, and winter canoeing adventures.

Shelly Strom

Community Land and Gardens Director

On the day Shelly was born, her parents planted a willow in honor of her birth. Her family’s love of nature and gardening put her on a life-long tree-hugging and beet-eating trajectory. Since then, she has lived around the world, studied natural resources, science communication, landscape architecture and horticulture therapy. She is now deeply rooted in Madison and pleased to call Community GroundWorks her home for outdoor wonderment and engagement with nature. 


Ryan Grist

Gardens Network Assistant

Born and raised in Madison, Ryan came to Community GroundWorks because of his love for growing food and building community. He has spent several seasons working on farms, and after graduating from UW-Madison in Community and Environmental Sociology, he co-founded Nomad Farm on his family’s land in the driftless region of Wisconsin. He is thrilled to be a part of the team at Community GroundWorks because it combines his dedication to growing food with his interest in place-based-food-focused community development. When he’s done working for the day, he’s likely found weeding winter squash, cooking, camping, or exploring the prairie on his family’s land.

Yimmuaj Yang

Gardens Network Manager

Yimmuaj is a Madison native who loves growing food, cooking and feeding people. Her passion for food stems from her parents’ hard work in providing for their family; they have always grown vegetables for as long as she can remember. Food is at the core of her own cultural connection and relationship building.

Yimmuaj brings many experiences, skills, and knowledge to Community GroundWorks; she has been working with community gardeners for the past ten years. In addition, she has worked with local minority farmers for the past four years; providing technical assistance and consultation with management in keeping operations sustainable and fiscally sound.

Aside from working at Community GroundWorks, Yimmuaj and her husband own a small vegetable farm business which they hope to grow in the future. During the summer season, you can find them at their very own stand at the farmers’ market as well. Food is such a part of their lives.

Jill Carlson Groendyk

Farm to Early Care & Education Trainer

Jill is an Ohio native that came to Madison in Fall 2014 to relocate with her partner Mike. Jill has always been interested in how we can live well and healthfully, while also taking care of the ecological system that sustains us. This passion and interest led to an array of work and educational experiences studying renewable energy systems, completing the first greenhouse gas inventory for the City of Detroit, serving as an Americorps Farm to School Specialist with REAP Food Group, and coordinating an agricultural conservation project in the Great Lakes Basin. Jill is very excited to contribute to the farm to early care and education work in Wisconsin and champion the value of bringing local food into early care settings. Outside of Community GroundWorks, she also works as the assistant market manager for the Dane County Farmer's Market and loves to cook up a stew, write snail mail and eat pastries.

Deb Moses

Farm to Early Care & Education Trainer

Deb was born & raised in Kenosha, Wisconsin. She recently returned to her home state after 20 years away working on wildlife, plant ecology and agricultural research around the U.S. In Colorado, Deb was lucky enough to be a part of a Farm to Early Care & Education project while simultaneously exploring gardening and healthy, local foods with her pre-school aged son, Quinn. Deb is a true Cheesehead and is thrilled to be back in Wisconsin and helping with the Farm to ECE movement here. She is currently living out her dream on a recently purchased farm in central Sauk Co. where she lives with Quinn & her husband Marty.

Sarah Karlson

Gardener-in-Residence: Badger Rock Middle School

Sarah comes to Community GroundWorks with over decade of experience working in education, food justice and urban agriculture in Oakland, California, primarily with two nonprofits, City Slicker Farms and Urban Adamah. She has a Master's degree in Culture Ecology and Sustainable Community with a concentration in Ecological Agriculture from New College of California and has a passion for gardens as tools for education, food access, joy, connection, and community building. When not at work, she can often be found in her own garden or under a pile of her own fabulous kids.

Susan Gaeddert

Gardener-in-Residence: Crestwood Elementary School

Susan holds advanced degrees in music and is active as a professional piano teacher, collaborator and writing coach. She has experience working with groups of all ages, from preparing schoolchildren for opera performances to teaching beginning piano students at the college level. Her interest in gardening and working with children comes from many years of volunteering with the outdoor education program at Crestwood Elementary, and maintaining vegetable and herb beds at the school, her own home, and at community gardens. Above all. Susan is passionate about education for all ages of subjects that she feels connects us to our better selves: music and nature!