Jessa Fowler

fellowship Director

After studying ancient agriculture in college and co-teaching fifth grade, Jessa followed her passion for building healthy communities as an AMI Fellow in 2012. In her subsequent work at the AMI partner organization, The Highland Center, Jessa worked to build local food systems in the region. Jessa earned a Master's in Education from the University of Washington, where she studied and worked in the fields of nutrition and garden education, outdoor education, non-profit management, and curriculum development. Her passion for the Farm and Food Fellowship brought Jessa back to AMI in 2016 and she has been managing the Fellowship ever since. In her spare time, Jessa enjoys working on her homestead with husband Chris in Blue Grass, VA.  

Pat Banks

Farm Manager

The Ami farm at augusta health

Originally hailing from Pardeeville, WI, Pat developed his passion for environmental justice and farming after a 3-year quest that included travel to Central America, working and leading trail crews in AZ and CO, and then, ultimately, working as a field hand on a 3-acre farm outside of Madison, WI. Pat was a part of AMI’s 2017 cohort and spent his Phase II placement as the farm manager at the AMI Farm at August Health. When not obsessing over farming, Pat enjoys the challenge of trying to live a more sustainable lifestyle through cooking; preserving and fermenting the food he grows.

Grayson Shelor

Outreach Director

Originally from the foothills of Eastern Tennessee, Grayson feels rooted in the rich food heritage of Appalachia. After graduating from the University of Richmond with a degree in English Literature, she followed her passions for service, public health, and outdoor education across the United States before returning to Virginia as an AMI Farm and Food Fellow in 2017. A proud apologist for vegetables, Grayson also enjoys books, tea, coloring with toddlers, singing to seedlings, hiking, and splashing in creeks.


Rick Gatlin

Administrative Assistant and Bookkeeper

Rick comes to AMI with over 30 years of accounting and business management experience. He worked with grants, capital budgets, and accounting software implementation at the University of Virginia. He also put in many years of corporate accounting at the former Rocco, Inc, poultry company in Harrisonburg. A graduate of James Madison University, Rick originally hails from Tidewater, Virginia, but has developed deep roots here in the Shenandoah Valley. When not trying to get on the golf course, his other passion is training, showing, and loving his herd of English Springer Spaniels.

Dylan Kennedy

Allegheny Farm Manager

Within the blurred edges of conservation and agriculture is where Dylan finds himself most at home. From the mountains of Wyoming to the heat of the New Orleans delta, he has managed a range of
agricultural projects, gaining insight into the workings of non-profits and private farms. As Farm Manager at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, a 3,000-acre destination landmark in Central Kentucky, he built  educational farm operations and seed-to-table dining from a regenerative framework inspired by an existing nature preserve. Rotational grazing, agroforestry, and integrated crop and livestock systems are some of his favorite tools for restoring topsoil and building vibrant farm ecosystems.

Pen Goodall

allegheny Farm Caretaker

For as long as he can remember, Pen has been coming to Highland County with his family. Then, in the early 80's, he bought a farm and became a permanent resident of Allegheny Mountain.  A man of the woods, Pen can often be found wandering the forests, speaking up for the land and taking Fellows on walks. Pen also caretakes on the Allegheny Farm where he makes sure roads, springs, buildings and equipment are in good order. When not at AMI, Pen also runs his own logging and bush hogging business and enjoys taking wild motorcycle rides. 

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Mark Botkin serves as general counsel to many closely held businesses, often from their inception.  This including advising on choice of entity and structure as well as providing advice on federal and state taxation issues.  Mr. Botkin has substantial experience in estate planning and pension and employee benefits. Having been raised on a farm in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, Mr. Botkin enjoys helping farm families preserve their farmland for future generations through the use of such techniques as conservation easements.  His areas of practice include agriculture law, business, business and tax planning, conservation easements, education law, real estate and wills, trusts and estates. He graduated with a B.A. in 1985 from the University of Virginia and a J.D. in 1993 from the University of Richmond School of Law.


Mark Botkin

Penelope Ferguson is a Registered Dietitian. She was born and raised in Shenandoah County Virginia, where the ‘family-farm’ looks very much like the AMI farm in Highland County. As a child, her life included gardening, canning, butchering, cooking and being part of the lifestyle patterns of rural living and garnering food ‘off’ the land in the 1950s and 1960s. Today, Penelope utilizes her knowledge of local foods, recipes and traditions in food columns, writings and her food demonstrations. She loves to cook and believes in featuring local foods and returning to simple cooking techniques. Her approach with food-based support is simple: for individuals and families to get back into the kitchen to embrace basic real food that is local which has been prepared and served with respect for Nature and with love for those that are eating it.


Penelope volunteers throughout the community, especially with the Valley Program for Aging Services, teaching diabetes management, self-management of chronic diseases. She is also a Biblical Storyteller, telling ‘by heart’ stories and passages from the Bible. In addition, she enjoys construction and house renovations.


Penelope is an experienced lecturer and is able to explain medical nutrition needs and how to change the diet to accomplish therapeutic results. She is a member of the Food & Culinary Professionals with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and is a member of Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Nutrition. Having lived in an era of self-sufficiency, and witnessed the transition to a scientific and medical mindset when fixing everything was a mere band-aid, Penelope is now inspired by seeing the commitment of those that are back-to-earthers and the need to regenerate the soil and health and spirit of this community.


Penelope Ferguson

Barbara has lived in the Staunton area since 1988. She grew up on a river south of Mobile,
Alabama; but her father was from the Gloucester VA area, and she knew, even as a child, that
Virginia was the place she wanted to call home. Barbara was in the first class of women to
graduate from Davidson College N.C. with a B.S. in Mathematics. In Staunton, she taught math
at Stuart Hall School for 8 years. Always interested in gardening, she became a landscape
designer and has practiced in that field for the last 20 years. Her interest in and love of native
plants has inspired her to regularly incorporate as many as possible into her designs, and into
her own woodland gardens. Vegetable gardening has also been a priority, believing that healthy
food is an essential ingredient for a healthy lifestyle.

Barbara has served as board presidents in Staunton for the former Mid-Atlantic Chamber
Orchestra and Valley Symphonic Concerts, and the Beverley Street Studio School. She was a
founding board member of Shenandoah Green, and initiated in 2019 its “food waste for
compost” collection program at Staunton’s Farmers’ Market. Barbara has always been an
advocate of non-profit community organizations, believing that these are the life blood of every
healthy and thriving community. She also enjoys time with her adult children, hiking, paddling,
traveling, drawing, cooking, and most of all, gardening.


Barbara Brothers

Allegheny Mountain Institute

PO Box 542,

Staunton, VA 24402 


AMI at Augusta Health


Fishersville, VA

Allegheny Farm Campus 


Hightown, VA