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On-Farm Education Staff

Katie TownsendProgram Director: Katie Townsend’s career can be summed up as everything outdoors. Camping has occupied a big chunk of her professional life with over 30 years in the field and a variety of experiences ranging from wilderness programs, northwoods summer camps to environmental education for schools from California to Illinois. Note that overnight camps are her personal favorite. Her educational background is an undergraduate degree in Natural Resource Management  from University of Wisconsin Stevens Point and a masters of science in Outdoor Teacher Education from Northern Illinois University. In addition Katie is a First Aid CPR Instructor, graduate of the Basic Camp Director Course from American Camp Association and Food Service Sanitation Manager. Katie adds, ”now let me say something about my passion and Angelic Organics Learning Center….Farm Camp matches up with what is important such as good food which is nutritious, good land which is tended carefully following the earthbeat of biodynamics and good friendships experienced between all campers and animals."

Becca CheltonProgram Manager: Becca Chelton hails from the East Coast and got her start in the local food movement through an environmental ethics class at alma mater Knox College. She interned with a series of non-profits including Slow Food USA before joining the farm as a program assistant in 2015. A habitual apartment dweller with little access to backyards, Becca loves working in the garden and caring for the livestock whenever she gets the chance.



Deb Crockett

Senior Program Director (Farm Office)

Deb has been with Angelic Organics Learning Center since 2004. She has a background in environmental education and organic farming.  Deb has been instrumental in influencing policies to allow backyard chickens in Beloit, WI, and Roscoe, IL. She is also the keeper of the bees at the Learning Center. Her favorite moments with farm visitors include birthing goats, visiting the beehive, making six kinds of cheese, and the alchemy as diverse groups of people join together to work, learn, and feast on the farm.

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 Jessie Crow Mermel points out the dolphin weathervane on our barn as a symbol of how our food choices connect with the greater ecosystem. She is warm and welcoming, and has a strong environmental ethic that shines through her work and personal life, whether she's working with summer campers, Waldorf School campouts, or restoring the oak savanna. She graduated with a degree in Sustainability Studies and has a certification as a Master Naturalist. When not at the farm, she works as a substitute teacher in Rockford or can be found delighting in the forest or paddling the rivers. Jessie and her husband, Randy Mermel, live in a geodesic dome with their sons, dog and cat. Jessie and her family are active organizers in the local chapter, working toward creative solutions to climate change.

 Joe Haverly is an Environmental Biology Professor at Rock Valley College which allows him to share his passions for simplicity, sustainability and justice with his students.  He is involved with numerous environmental organizations in the community and urges his students to volunteer their time as often as they can. He lives with his wife and 6 children on a small hobby farm just down the road from Angelic Organics but loves to escape to their small cabin tucked in the woods of the UP whenever he can. In 2015 he won the Faculty of the Year award from Rock Valley College and is currently the President of the school board for the North Boone School District.

Amanda Holmes has always loved the smell of barns and the sights and sounds of the farmyard. Equally pleasing to her is the chance to share her passions with others. Amanda spends most of her time homeschooling her four children, but makes sure there's plenty of time for exploring outdoors, working in the garden, creating things, volunteering, and helping others. In addition to teaching at Angelic Organics, Amanda works as a doula, teaches classes on infant nutrition and homemade baby food, and helps run a not-for-profit presenting hands-on, educational, live animal shows to children. Amanda has been involved with the Spring Valley Nature Center and Volkening Heritage Farm in Schaumburg since she was a child: helping at festivals, taking care of the animals, and milking the cows. Amanda sincerely enjoys working with children and families at Angelic Organics, watching them fall in love with the farm and its inhabitants and fostering connections with the important issues surrounding our food and the important work of growing it well. 

Randy Mermel enjoys helping people fall in love with vegetables they dislike. His knowledge spans from the field to the forest and he enjoys sharing it with people of all ages at camps, field trips, and workshops. He graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in Environmental Science and spent several seasons with the Forest Service before digging his garden beds in Roscoe, IL. He loves to teach about sustainability, but also lives it at home where he is the founder and director of the Dome Gathering Center. His favorite programs involve teaching about natural building and organic gardening.

C. Holly Denning, M.A. (ABD) is Senior Lecturer at UW-Whitewater in the Department of Sociology, Criminology and Anthropology. She also teaches in the Race and Ethnic Studies program, including the American Indian Studies Minor. Interests include environmental and restorative justice. She brings an interdisciplinary perspective to both her scholarly work and teaching. Regional Great Lakes and global water crises are one focus after ten years studying post-Katrina New Orleans. Holly has served for over 10 years as Advisor to the student organization, NACAA—Native American Cultural Awareness Association.