Meet Our Staff and Volunteers October 2020

John Woodrich has been a long-time volunteer at Tollgate and has been involved in many areas of the farm. John has worked in the ornamental gardens, he has been the leader of the Plant a Row for the Hungry garden, he has led the charge against garlic mustard and other invasive species, and has been very involved in Tollgate’s maple sugaring. John is a recipient of Tollgate’s Ginger Meyer award – Tollgate’s award for best volunteer of the year. John is a real “can-do” person. He often pitches in on regular maintenance projects around the farm. Over the years, John has logged over 1000 visits to the site working on and helping in many different areas. John’s assistance, knowledge and friendship is instrumental in keeping Tollgate’s programs running well. Thank you for all you do John!

Sara joined the Tollgate team in June of 2019 after moving from Florida to Michigan 6 months prior. Sara has always had a passion for working with youth and all things outdoors. She received her undergraduate degree in Elementary/Exceptional Education and minored in Environmental Science. Sara arrived at Tollgate right before the kick off of camp and jumped right into camp training and running over 8 weeks of in-person camps. In her role at Tollgate, Sara also helps support Tollgate’s educational programs and recently started helping with our sustainable agriculture team. She is the ultimate team player and always willing to pitch in whenever needed. Sara has also adapted programming amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, hosting 10 weeks of “Virtual Camp Adventures” and “Virtual Goat Story-Time.” Sara’s excitement and passion is contagious and we are lucky to have her as part of our team! Thank you for all you do Sara!

Susan started volunteering at Tollgate seven years ago in the garden on Earth Day. Following that initial volunteering opportunity, her daughter volunteered with camp and joined the 4-H club. Her youngest daughter is also a 4-H member. Susan has been a great help to the Tollgate Farm 4-H club by securing seed donations for the club and distribution to schools, community, and youth gardens. In past years, Susan also helped to start the seeds for the 4-H garden and tend the garden during the growing season. She has also been a big help with the 4-H farm stand, which brings in revenue for the club. During the pandemic, she has been diligently weeding and tarping the 4-H garden to keep it weed free for when in person programing can resume. Susan is also on the financial aid committee and special projects committee bringing her work experience to help with our screening process for scholarships and special projects and events. Thank you Susan for all you do to help the 4-H club and farm!

Mike joined the MSU Tollgate team in January 2017 as the Interim Education Director and moved into the position of MSU Tollgate Farm Director in 2019. On a day to day basis, Mike oversees all farm operations, including agricultural production, education, finances, partnerships, fundraising, and more. He is always willing to pitch in alongside our staff to help with hay harvest, picking pumpkins, garlic, or whatever else is needed on the farm. Mike received a Bachelor of Education in middle childhood education, Master of Education in curriculum and instruction, and a Master of Biology with a focus in ecology, all from the University of Toledo Department of Environmental Sciences at the University of Toledo (Go Rockets!). He began his career as a middle school teacher and eventually moved into an Environmental Educator position with Metroparks Toledo Metroparks Toledo. A major motivating factor for Mike is connecting people to land and place. As a kid, he enjoyed fishing on Lake Huron with his grandpa, camping with his dad on the family farm, and showing livestock at the Monroe County Fair. MSU Tollgate Farm provides an amazing opportunity to create these types of experiences for our visitors and campers. For fun, Mike enjoys spending time with his wife Corinne and 2-year old son Owen, woodworking, hiking, and reading about the sustainable food movement. Thank you for all you do for the farm Mike!

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