2013 AMS Workshops and Instructors



Beekeeping 101
Nicole Balenger
Nicole Balenger thought she was passing time between gardening seasons by learning about honey bees. That field day turned out to be her entry to the wonder of beekeeping. She helped start the Highland County beekeepers spring short course to encourage new beekeepers and for keepers to share best local practices.  Beekeeping has been Nicole’s way to tune in to the weather, plants, bloom and a quick way to determine whether the babies are wearing shoes in the summer clover.


Kirk Billingsley
Kirk Billingsley grew up outside Monterey Virginia, surrounded by old heirloom apple trees, and took for granted all apples were similar to those and that all apple cider is good.  When life took him to college he found that all apple cider is not what he grew up with.  The search for the reason why, introduced him to Dr. Elwood Fisher a well known heirloom apple collector, JMU biology professor, and a grafting instructor.  Since that grafting class, Kirk has grafted hundreds of apple trees and has made wonderful cider from his grafted trees, just like the cider he took for granted as a child.

Kirk is a passionate about anything apple, most particularly, sweet and hard cider.

ellenLeadership and Organizational Development
Ellen Butchart
Ellen Butchart is Allegheny Mountain School’s Outreach Director and Leadership Coach for both phases of the AMS Fellowship program.  Ellen has an MFA from Columbia University and MBA in Sustainable Business from Bainbridge Graduate Institute in Seattle, WA.  In her first career, she was a faculty member at the University of Virginia and the University of Pennsylvania. In her second career, she worked as a Creative Director, producing educational software at Rosetta Stone and managing international creative teams at Amazon.com.  She decided that, in her third career, her work had to match her interest in sustainable local economies, food systems, and a belief that healthy organizations were places where all people were creative problem solvers and the best organizations improved the lives of their communities.  She joined Allegheny Mountain School in 2011 and helps prepare AMS Fellows for working together as a team and their year-long fellowship in non-profit Partner Organizations .

Pam DowlingCrop Rotations for Vegetables and Cover Crops, Succession Planting, Fall Vegetable Production, Cold-hardy Winter Vegetables
Pam Dawling

Pam Dawling is a contributing editor with Growing for Market magazine and a speaker on growing vegetables sustainably. Her book Sustainable Market Farming: Intensive Vegetable Production on a Few Acres was published by New Society Publishers on February 1, 2013. An avid vegetable grower for almost 40 years, she has been farming and providing training in sustainable vegetable production for community members at Twin Oaks Community in central Virginia for over 20 years. She is the manager of the three and a half acre vegetable gardens which feed around 100 people all year. Pam’s previous farming experience includes caring for livestock; growing small acreages of grains, field beans and hay, using old farm implements, and growing and cooking more than sixty different kinds of vegetables and fruits.  For more about her book, see www.sustainablemarketfarming.com www.facebook.com/SustainableMarketFarming

Nutrition and Public Health
Lynda Fanning

Lynda retired in 2011 after 18 years as Director of Clinical Nutrition at UVa Health System, and is grateful for more hours to work toward a sustainable food system in Virginia and thereby healthy Virginians.  She talks a lot about 9 or more servings a day of colorful fruits and veggies, raised in the freshest, safest, and most sustainable ways, about making them and other locally produced foods accessible to all, and about involving kids in the excitement and deliciousness of growing, harvesting, shopping for, and preparing these flavor-rich foods.  Her 6 grandkids (ages 1-7) look for green and other colors on their plates, and are clear about where food comes from.

Besides being a charter member/Director of the Virginia Food System Council (having helped to develop it with a workgroup between 2007-2009, she also works on the UVa Food Collaborative Steering Committee as Film Series Chair; she sets up great food documentaries and panel discussions afterward.  She also serves on the Board of C’ville’s Market Central, a non-profit which supports the city’s farmers’ market.  She is past president of the Virginia Dietetic Association and authored its Sustainable Food System Legislative Priority, also initiating an organization of Registered Dietitians from across the state who focus on promoting sustainable local food systems.  She believes the fight against obesity begins at birth, with the decision of the mother to breastfeed and serves on an Advisory Board for Breastfeeding in Virginia.  Finally, she serves on the Advisory Board for Charlottesville’s Community Action on Obesity, focusing on local food and exercise in the city and surrounding area.  She buys local foods from farmers she knows and also grows a few; she has theories about the power of flavor and cares a lot about the most important part of good food:  good soil.

Fields.ChrisChris Fields-Johnson
Soil Workshop
Chris Fields-Johnson is a Doctoral Candidate in Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences at Virginia Tech. He founded the Piedmont Earthworks in 2005 to develop comprehensive land restoration methods on highly degraded lands in his home region. He lives and works at Briery Creek Forest Farm near Charlottesville, Virginia, practicing pine silvopasturing with sheep and goats, hardwood forest rehabilitation, beaver wetland management and terra preta forest gardening.

Stone Wall Workshop
Zach Foster

Zach Foster lives in Rockinham County, Virginia on Round Hill at the confluence of the North and Dry Rivers. He has a degree in Natural Resource Management from Northland College in Northern Wisconsin and learned and used backcountry stonework as a trail crew leader for the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps. Zach is drawn to stone because of its accessibility and long view on time. Zach also works with wood and writes for a prison-industrial complex abolition radio program on WMMT out of Whitesburg, Ky.  Zach’s class will focus on the basics of stone work to create durable structures to support gardens and soil preservation.

Goldstein.NoahNoah Goldstein
Chinese Medicine|
From his childhood in the lush woods of Tennessee to his teenage years in the dry forests and desserts of Israel, Noah always found himself in love with the natural world. His deep curiosity and desire to better understand life led him to study Biology with a specialization in Ecology and Conservation Science at Boston University, after which he spent time farming in the Berkshires, studying and living Judaism in Jerusalem, and pushing the edge of cooperative urban homesteading in Brooklyn, where he worked as an environmental educator for the New York Restoration Project.  In New York he brought his discovery of the healer within him to the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine where he began to merge his understanding of ecosystem dynamics with the dynamics of the human body. He now lives in Boulder, where he’ll be graduating this August from Southwest Acupuncture College with a Masters in Traditional Oriental Medicine.  His current project is the creation of the first mobile acupuncture clinic.

McDowell.BartBasics of Tree Care: Pests, Diseases, and Pruning
Bart McDowell
Bart McDowell is an ISA Board Certified Master Arborist and has been involved in tree care since 1987.   As a college student, Bart studied Biology at SUNY Stonybrook in New York.  He began his career with Bartlett Tree Experts in 1990, working in the Charlottesville office as a tree climber.   Bart was attracted to Bartlett’s scientific approach to tree care.  Over his 23 year career, he has served as Diagnostic Technician, Arborist Representative, and Regional Office Manager.  Bart is past president of the Piedmont Landscape Association, has chaired the Staunton Landscape Advisory Board and is a volunteer and current board president of the Gypsy Express.  Bart enjoys giving garden club speeches, and provides educational programs at Viette’s Nurseries and for local Master Gardner programs

Non-Profit Organizations
Betty Mitchell

Betty Mitchell has served as Executive Director of The Highland Center since it was established in 1998.  She is also a staff member of Allegheny Mountain School and serves as our fiscal Project Manager.  She has extensive background in non-profit management, having worked for Saint Paul’s College and the Mental Health Association of Virginia before moving to Highland, as well as experience in business planning, marketing and community development.

Betty’s community involvement includes current and past board positions with the Highland County Economic Development Authority, Shenandoah Valley Partnership, Highland County Sheep and Wool Producers Association, and the Alleghany Highlands Agricultural Center Steering Committee. She is a founding member and past president of the Virginia Business Incubation Association. Betty is also the founder of the Blue Grass Book Bank in Blue Grass, Virginia, where she and her husband Brian live and operate a small sheep farm. Betty has a BGA degree and Masters of Interdisciplinary Studies (Non-profit Management emphasis), both from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Conservation Agriculture
Ron Morse

Ron Morse is an emeritus professor of vegetable crops at Virginia Tech. His research-outreach focus is sustainable-organic food systems that use local or on-farm production inputs. He specializes in development of small-farm equipment, and integration of farmscaping and cover-cropping techniques to achieve holistic conservation farming systems.

corienaCheese Making
Coriena Reynolds
Coriena Reynolds was a fellow for AMS’s inaugural year in 2011. She returned to AMS in 2012 to be the AMS Village Manager for her Phase II placement. Prior to AMS, she worked for various non-profits and farms, including a short internship at a dairy goat farm where she cultivated her love and passion for goat husbandry and cheese making. While at AMS, she loved caring for the two dairy goats, Tess and Val, and spent many hours in the kitchen turning their milk into cheese. This year, she returns to AMS to share her cheese making love with the 2013 fellows.

StickleyGodinezBasics of Plant Propagation
Mary Stickley-Godinez
Mary Stickley-Godinez has degrees in Horticulture, Landscape Design, and Identification of Woody Landscape Plants.  While working toward these degrees, she worked as Inventory Manager for a perennial nursery, Producer of a call in radio talk show about plants, Enhancements Manager for a landscape maintenance company, and as Plant Purchaser, Production Manager, Designer’s Assistant, and Landscape Designer for various design/ build companies.  She has also worked as greenhouse manager for a retail garden center and owned her own landscape design/install company for a time. Later she acquired her International Arborist Certification and became a Master Gardener affiliated with the Northern Shenandoah Valley Master Gardener Association where she is a past president and currently serves as Virginia Master Gardener Association Liaison.  She is also a member of the Old Fredericktown Garden Club in Winchester.

Mary just recently left her job as Manager of Gardens and Grounds for the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley and moved to Afton, Virginia where she and her new husband have started Countryside Nurseries, a wholesale nursery and grafting company.  She also owns and operates Countryside Garden Consultations, providing ideas and information to assist homeowners in their gardening endeavors.  In addition, she writes on gardening topics for various publications, lectures, and teaches seminars throughout the state.

Dawn Story
Dawn Story is an aspiring homesteader, earth steward, permaculture enthusiast, plant lover and fermentation fanatic. She is the creator of Farmstead Ferments artisanal fermented foods and New Moon Naturals herbal teas and elixirs. She is inspired to share her passions of making and preserving food and medicine with community, preserving the past as a bridge to the future  (www.FarmsteadFerments.com).

Taylor.MargotSustainable Landscape Practices and Design
Margot Taylor
Margot Taylor, RLA DE & PA, utilizes her 29 years of experience in landscape architecture, resource conservation, and environmental education to design/ develop and manage an array of ecological restoration, land management, and environmental design and advocacy projects through her consulting practice. Her expertise includes riparian and forest habitat restoration; a holistic approach to land, vegetation and soil resource management; design of integrated and natural process-based stormwater management systems; design, construction, operations and management of sustainable landscapes; and procedural and documentation requirements that meet the Sustainable Sites Initiative standards.

She has a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Design, a Master’s level certificate in Education, has taught landscape architecture at Temple University, is a member of Delaware’s Forest Stewardship Committee and an advisor for Kennett Township on resource conservation and best management practices through leadership roles as chair/ member on the Environmental Advisory Council and Red Clay Scenic By-way Committee. For kicks she mountain bikes, kayaks and bows a Celtic fiddle style.

Current and Active Projects as a Registered Landscape Architecture PA & DE, Environmental Consultant, Environmental Educator.

• Watershed Restoration Coordination – management of riparian buffer restoration projects within French & Valley Creek watersheds, Chester County PA. Secures partnerships and grant funding, and coordinates volunteers for installation events.

• Trail Management Consultant – managed design and construction of phase 1 trail installation project. Secured Chester County grant for trail construction and served as liaison with regulatory municipality.

• SITES Pilot – Sustainable Sites Initiative Pilot Program. Participant in Pilot 2010-2012 program to test new voluntary standards for sustainable landscapes on personal property. Certification anticipated, final documentation completed and submitted 10/26/2012.

Ira Cute Squash photo1Seed Saving
Ira Wallace
Ira Wallace serves on the boards of Organic Seed Alliance, Virginia Association for Biological Farming (VABF)  and  the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) , the lead plantiffs in OSGATA ET AL v Montsanto. Ira was one of nine cooperators with the Southern SARE-sponsored Saving Our Seeds Project.  She is working with OSA, VABF and OSGATA to protect the integrity of our organic seed supply, bring more seed growing education and conduct more organic variety trials to the southeast.

Ira is a worker/owner of the cooperatively managed Southern Exposure Seed Exchange where she coordinates variety selection and new seed grower contracts. Southern Exposure (www.SouthernExposure.com) offers over 700 varieties of open-pollinated heirloom and organic seeds selected for flavor and regional adaptability. Southern Exposure helps people keep control of their food supply by supporting sustainable home and market gardening, seed saving, and preserving heirloom varieties. In addition, Ira is a member of Acorn Community which farms over 60 acres of certified organic land in Central Virginia, growing seeds, alliums, hay, and conducting variety trials for Southern Exposure. She is also an organizer of the Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello (www.HeritageHarvestFestival.com) a fun, family-friendly event featuring an old-time seed swap, local food, hands-on workshops,demos and more.  You can find Ira blogging online at www.MotherEarthNews.com/Southeast-Gardening. Her first book, a regional guide to year round food gardening in the Southeast, will be available from Timber Press in Dec. 2013.

Soil and Water Conservation
Robert “Bobby” Whitescarver
Bobby retired from federal service in 2011 with 31 years as a field conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Virginia.  His work there led to the establishment of over 5,000 acres of riparian buffers and the planting of half a million hardwood trees.

He now has his own consulting business, Whitescarver Natural Resources Management LLC, and is under contract with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to expedite fieldwork and outreach to improve the quality of streams to restore and protect the Bay.  He teaches Natural Resources Management at James Madison University.  He enjoys farming with his wife in Swoope, Virginia where they have cattle, horses and many acres committed to wildlife habitat especially for quail.  He is a founding board member of the Valley Conservation Council – a private land trust, and is currently on their board.  He is also on the board of the Virginia League of Conservation Voters.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation chose Bobby as their “Conservationist of the Year” in 2002.  He has a degree in Agronomy from Virginia Tech and a Masters degree from James Madison University. He can be reached at  http://www.gettingmoreontheground.com.




Find out about the events, workshops, farming and life as an AMS Fellow.

Allegheny Mountain School (AMS) is a project of The Highland Center, located in Monterey, Virginia. It’s mission is to serve all citizens of Highland County by being a catalyst for cultural and economic development, and to preserve a historic landmark as a symbol of unity and community pride. [Read More]

Story.Dawn1 Read about this season’s workshops and instructors.


Allegheny Mountain School PartnersPhase II of the AMS Fellowship is spent working for a non-profit for one year.

In 2014, AMS Senior Fellows will be working for these organizations in our region focused on local food, conservation and strengthening communities.

City Schoolyard Garden
Project Grows
New Community Project
Valley Conservation Council
Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind

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