MEET OUR AMAZING TEAM

 

Sue Erhardt

Executive Director

Sue brings over 20 years of experience in education and urban agriculture to AMI. Prior to joining AMI, Sue served as Director of Education with Casey Trees in Washington DC, and held leadership roles with The Greening of Detroit and the Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council. Sue has created and implemented environmental education programs for adults and K-12 students and has extensive experience in training and directing staff and volunteers to get the most out of their time and talents.

Jessa Fowler

Education 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.

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

Education Coordinator

The Ami farm at Augusta health
 

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.

our board

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.

Treasurer

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.

Director

Penelope Ferguson

Allegheny Mountain Institute

PO Box 542,

Staunton, VA 24402 

 

AMI at Augusta Health

540-886-0160

Fishersville, VA

Allegheny Farm Campus 

540-468-2300

Monterey, VA