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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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