Delia is a professional facilitator with decades of experience helping groups accomplish great things together. She loves connecting One Cool Earth volunteers with needed school garden education tasks.
Delia is equally at home helping a group of adults figure out what they want to do and supporting them in carrying it out, or helping students discover the magic of growing food, recycling stuff and caring for our water sources. Delia is the author of three books, includingCOLLABORATION SOUP: A Guide for Co-Creative Meetings and Other Conversations,which is based on the Stone Soup children’s fairy tale.
In addition to matching volunteers with garden education needs and working with students in the garden, Delia is available to facilitate garden workdays as a team building event for business and non-profit groups.
Shawna Whitfield, M.A.
Educator, Ocean View Elementary School
Shawna Whitfield currently teaches sixth grade at Lucia Mar's Ocean View Elementary in Arroyo Grande, CA, and is passionate about creating authentic, rigorous, and flexible learning opportunities for all students. Three years of collaboration with One Cool Earth has inspired and informed many instructional modules for teachers and students, and she looks forward to every collaborative conversation. Awarded site Teacher of the Year in 2015, she attributes this honor to being a part of a diverse and empowering network of professional and community educators. Ms. Whitfield received her M.A. from Cal Poly in 2017 in Educational Leadership and Administration and lives with her husband and two children in Arroyo Grande.
Aurora Communication Strategies
Dawn Ortiz-Legg is a highly experienced public affairs consultant who has supported the successful
development and construction of 870 megawatts of utility-scale solar projects in the central coast
region. Since 2010, Ortiz-Legg has coordinated external relations for First Solar, during all phases of the
Cuyama Solar Project, the California Flats Solar Project, and the Topaz Solar Farms. She has earned a
reputation as a highly effective communicator and relationship-builder who balances social and
economic development with environmental protection, and is widely recognized for her expertise in in
project advocacy, permit compliance, stakeholder engagement and risk management.
Ortiz-Legg holds a Bachelor of Arts from Pepperdine University, and a Master of International Public
Policy from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. She serves on the Board of
Directors of the SLO County Economic Vitality Corporation, the SLO International Film Festival and the
SLO County Council of Governments Citizen’s Transportation Committee.
Retired Nurse and Active Gardener & Herbalist
Suzanne has lived and worked in San Luis
Obispo County all of her adult life. She moved to
Atascadero in 1976, where her son and daughter grew up and attended Atascadero public schools. Suzanne has work as a Maternal/Neonatal nurse, Surgery nurse , and Nurse Manager, for almost four decades in this county. As an avid gardener and student of plants, upon retiring she began volunteering with OCE at the San Gabriel school garden, the elementary school her grandchildren attend. In 2017 she completed the Garden Nutrition Extender course through University of California. Volunteering in the garden, teaching kids, designing lessons, and preparing food tastings,
has inspired Suzanne to start an after school gardening club. She is passionate about giving kids space and time to play while learning respect of the
environment. Suzanne lives with her wonderful husband, Nick, also a OCE volunteer, and their cat, Milo.
Education and Outreach Specialist, NOAA Coastal Discovery Center
Carolyn Skinder staffs the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary's southern office and oversees operation of the Coastal Discovery Center at San Simeon Bay. The docent-run Coastal Discovery Center serves to educate over 15,000 visitors and school groups annually about the marine environment, the MBNMS, and the CA State Parks.
Ms. Skinder earned a Master of Science in Science Education from the University of Massachusetts, and a Master of Science in Marine Science and Policy from the University of Maine. Her career as an educator encompasses 15 years of teaching, designing, and directing programs in formal and experiential education. Her research background encompasses marine bird and mammal studies, as well as invertebrate community analysis. Prior to joining the Sanctuary in 2005, she worked closely with Maine's fisheries while studying benthic marine invertebrate communities as they related to the development of marine protected areas in the Gulf of Maine.
City and Regional Planning Professor, Cal Poly
Adrienne Greve has been in San Luis Obispo for over ten years teaching at Cal Poly in the City & Regional Planning Department. Her activities at Cal Poly as a teacher and in her research are primarily focused on climate change and how communities can take action. She is co-author of the book Local Climate Action Planning and served as project manager for development of the California Climate Adaptation Planning Guide. Adrienne also has been pursuing climate action planning with her students and has completed three plans for communities with students conducting public outreach, research, and devising proposed strategies. These experiences are some the most fulfilling as student emersion in a community cannot be replicated in a classroom. She has worked and conducted research domestically, as well as in Japan (Tohoku Coast) and sub-Saharan Africa. In the past, Adrienne has worked as a surface water hydrologist for the USGS, 10 years as a youth volleyball coach, and a backcountry guide. She has a Ph.D. in Urban Design and Planning from the University of Washington, a masters degree in
Bioresource Engineering from Colorado State, and a B.S. in Agricultural and Biological Engineering from Cornell.
Farmer, Owner of Heart of Paso Produce
Vanessa Preasmeyer Harris is a firefighter turned farmer. A native to the Central Coast, Vanessa was born in rural Southern Monterey County, graduated Paso Robles High School in 1998 and attended Cuesta College for several years before becoming a career wildland firefighter for the United States Forest Service (U.S.F.S.). In her 8 years in the fire service (with multiple agencies) she volunteered for San Luis Obispo County as a Paid Call Firefighter, apprenticed as a firefighter for San Luis Obispo City, graduated from the Federal Wildland Apprentice Academy, became an engineer on a type III engine for the U.S.F.S., and worked a season on a federal type I hotshot handcrew (U.S.F.S). She also pursued her college credits in continuing education with an associate’s degree in Fire Science. In 2004 she started dating her former hotshot crew captain and in 2008 they married and had their first child. In 2009 she resigned from her career in fire to commit to raising children. Her husband was promoted within his agency and is currently a fire chief with the USFS. In 2010 their second child was born with congenital bilateral hearing loss. With educators in home, it became evident that their first child was showing signs of Autism. Vanessa committed herself to intensive in home services for both children which entailed teachers and therapists in home all day 7 days a week for years. It was around this time that she decided to try to work a farm business from home, one that would allow her to work and stay with her children. With two acres of usable land surrounding their home in North Eastern Paso Robles, she set to work learning about the soil and growing. In 2012 the business of Heart of Paso Produce started selling at local farmers markets. The goal was and is to grow organic produce with sustainable practices for Farmers Markets and businesses on the Central Coast. It has evolved into a series of healthier life choices including being a conscious consumer, an intuitive steward of the land, an educator about our food system, and an advocate for our plants and animals. She and her husband continue to strive to grow and sell food for their local community.
Marilu C. Gomez
First 5 School Readiness, Parent Involvement
Marilu is the First 5 School Readiness Site Coordinator/Family Advocate at the Georgia Brown Elementary school site in the Paso Robles School District. Her family moved to Paso Robles 16 years ago to raise their three children in a better environment. Marilu has worked with elementary school families for the past 13 years to support parent engagement in their children’s education. Her work involves primarily meeting families from different diverse, cultural and economic backgrounds and as she teaches, she also learns from them. Her passion is gardening and when One Cool Earth started a garden
at Georgia Brown, it was a perfect opportunity for her to involve parents and children in the benefits, both psychological and healthy wise to utilize the resources available to them. Her work also involves community involvement and collaboration with agencies to better serve families. When the city of Paso Robles applied for a grant to bring a community park to the north side of town, she was there to support and create this dream a reality. The new Uptown Park has a beautiful space for a community garden and
she, along with families plant it, harvest it, and it is also an educational setting for children when they come with their parents. This also is empowering parents as they are their children’s first teachers. Marilu is a past Board Member of the San Luis Obispo Food Bank, a recipient of the 2016 First 5 Hands on Hero award for Family Support, 2010 Asset Development: Ignite the Spark, Connecting Hope Giraffe Award, a parent/community volunteer at schools and the city of Paso Robles. She has been a Friends of
the Fair volunteer for the last 15 years. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Healthcare Management from San Jose State University, 1991
Food Service Director, San Luis Coastal Unified School District
Erin Primer is the Director of Food Services for the San Luis Coastal Unified School District. She is passionate about serving real, delicious, local foods to kids and enjoys working with our local farm community to source the best products! Erin has worked in institutional food service for over a dozen years from campus dining to hospitals and even a zoo! Her background in catering and events brings a high standard for putting out exceptional food for customers. In her current role, Erin plans menus and sources food to feed thousands of students every day. She is committed to serving fresh food that is both nutritious and tastes great! She enjoys working with students on recipe development and taste testing. She is innovative and creates incredible menus for students to enjoy at school. Erin collaborates with local farms and farmers to bring local food to students - including blended burgers with local grass-fed beef blended with mushrooms, served on a local bun from Edna's Bakery in SLO!
Nell’s passion for a healthy community began with a desire to know all about gardening and how things grow at a young age. However, years later, after being a floral shop owner for 9 years, she joined the UCCE Master Gardener program, where she helped create a partnership with a newly created cultural center in San Clemente - Casa Romantica. Eventually that
volunteer position grew into a part-time job, where her duties included managing a few garden
volunteers, helped catalog native plants, assisted with the office/accounting/fundraising duties and
more. After moving to the Central Coast in 2006 with husband Jeff (and dog Marley), Nell continued with the Master Gardener program, where she helped start the annual Tomato Extravaganza festival and also served as President for one term. She is active in CRFG (CA Rare Fruit Growers) and helped the local
Chapter put on the Festival of Fruit in 2016; which is the organization’s annual conference and fruit
tasting event. She also completed the Permaculture Design Course the first time it was offered in SLO
In 2012 Nell started volunteering with GleanSLO and participated in several gleans, always looking for
another crop she hadn’t gleaned before. Besides finding the work to be rewarding and therapeutic, she also honors the labor and energy it takes to grow a particular crop to market. Through working with
various groups, she realizes the importance of local food distribution to all, which includes the
underserved in our county.
Nell’s love of gardening has come full circle - to encompass feeding soil, feeding people and feeding
community, in addition to growing colorful landscapes.
Atascadero Unified School District, Director of Curriculum and Instruction
Kurt is a native to San Luis Obispo County having grown up in rural Arroyo Grande on a small farm. As an active member of 4-H, he learned to appreciate the importance of informal science experiences in the garden and was involved in the 4-H SERIES Program developing science lessons for countywide youth. A graduate from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in Biological Sciences with a Bachelor in Science and from the University of Maryland in Chemical and Life Sciences with a Master’s Degree. Kurt’s main focus has been science education with a special emphasis on botany. He was student president of the Science and Math Are Really Terrific (SMART) Program which focused on bringing underrepresented elementary and middle school students to Cal Poly campus for hands on science laboratory experiences. This was the beginnings to the now established Cal Poly Learn By Doing laboratory. He was also involved in wildlife education by bringing wildlife to the classroom with his association with Pacific Wildlife Care. He earned the Cal Poly College of Science and Mathematics Community Service Award.
After university, Kurt received his Multiple Subjects elementary credential and his Single Subjects teaching credential in science. He has taught elementary, middle, and high school science for 20 years. He is also one of the founding teachers to Central Coast New Tech High School in Nipomo, CA. He is a nationally certified teacher and trainer in project based learning through the New Tech Network. Currently, he is the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for Atascadero Unified School District. He has been working One Cool Earth in their educational lesson designs focused around Next Generation Science Standards. He has also been able have direct involvement in the implementation of garden education at seven of his school sites. Two of these schools have been recognized as Green Ribbon Award winners by state of California in sustainability and energy conservation. Kurt is passionate about real world experiences in education and getting students to use and apply their education beyond the classroom walls.
Kurt lives in Templeton with his wife and two teenage daughters. He is an avid gardener and outdoorsmen. He enjoys being outside either hiking, camping, fishing,or exploring with his family.
Science Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA)
Laura work for Lucia Mar Unified School District which serves schools in the Southern part of SLO County. Laura attributes her love of science education to past science teachers and a professor who suggested that she pursue a single subject in science in addition to her multiple subject credential. Most of her time as an undergraduate student was spent working in the Cal Poly Learn by Doing lab and helping provide science educational experiences at community schools including science nights and teaching lessons in schools. For the past eight years, Laura has been involved with the California Science Project with Cal Poly.
As a teacher, she has attended One Cool Earth trainings that have enhanced her instruction and inspired her to incorporate the outdoors into everyday lessons. In 2016, Laura was honored as her school site’s teacher of the year. Laura earned her M.A. from Cal Poly in Curriculum and Instruction in 2017 with her research focused on science instruction and student collaboration.
After spending much of her childhood outdoors in Illinois, you will most likely find Laura hiking and exploring one of the local trails on the weekends.