Laurie Thorp is director of the Residential Initiative on the Study of the Environment (RISE). Thorp holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural Education from Texas A&M University. Her doctoral research took her to the Lansing School District where she studied the cultural and educational implications of a schoolyard garden. This study is the topic of her 2005 book, The Pull of the Earth by Altamira Press. She is a faculty member in the Department of Community Sustainability. Thorp was co-investigator on a $625K Department of Education grant to assess student learning of sustainability competencies through experiential education. She has served on the MSU Vice President for Finance and Operation’s Environmental Stewardship Systems Team as technical team leader for behavioral research associated with strategic change initiatives advancing campus sustainability. She is one of the founders of the MSU Student Organic Farm (SOF) and serves on the SOF steering team. For the past four years she has been collaborating with colleagues in the departments of Animal Science, Philosophy, and Sociology to study sustainable pork production and student ethical development. Thorp’s work has been published in Qualitative Inquiry, Agriculture and Human Values, Journal of Experiential Education, The International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Resources, Conservation and Recycling, and The Journal of Ethnographic and Qualitative Research. Her greatest joy and passion is mentoring undergraduates in their journey of self-discovery to identify their life work.
Denae Friedheim is the Farm Manager at MSU’s Student Organic Farm. Although she hails originally from the Lone-Star State, Denae has made Michigan her official home. She first came to the Great Lakes region to study at Saint Mary’s College in South Bend, IN where she majored in Biology and Sociology. Following graduation, she moved to Chicago to work in public health research. It was there that she discovered her interest in farming, albeit from a systems perspective. She moved to Michigan in 2008 and completed the Organic Farming Certificate Program in 2009. That year she began coordinating member services for the farm’s CSA as well as her position as the Recruitment Coordinator for the OFTP. Along with other program staff, she collaboratively redesigned the program into its current format. In 2010 she was the farm’s Propagation Manager, and in 2012 the OFTP Program Manager.
In 2011 Denae started Foodshed Farm, a sustainable agriculture business that specialized in growing seedlings for local farmers and gardeners, specialty produce for local restaurants and CSA customers. After four years of great experience running this business, she took the position of Production Manager at the SOF, where she is now full time. She enjoys bikes, books, burritos and baby plants. Tractors, too.
Matt R. Raven is a Professor in the Department of Community Sustainability (CSUS) at Michigan State University. Dr. Raven received his B.S. in Plant Science (Agronomy and Range Science) as well as his Ag Specialist and Life Science Single Subject teaching credentials from University of California at Davis, his Masters in Agricultural Education from Kansas State University and his Ph.D. in Agricultural Education from The Ohio State University. Prior to Michigan State University he served on the faculty at Montana State University and Mississippi State University and as a program evaluator for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. His research interests include teaching and learning in higher education, knowledge sharing and creation in social networks with emphasis on diffusion and adoption of innovations especially in the context of agriculture and community food systems. His interest in community food systems centers on the connection between healthy soils, healthy food, healthy people, and healthy communities with an emphasis on the utilization of grazing livestock to improve our soils. Dr. Raven is a faculty coordinator of the Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center (UPREC) located in Chatham, Michigan with responsibilities in community food systems. Dr. Raven also coordinates the agriculture, food and natural resource pre-service teacher program and assists with the Residential Initiative on the Study of the Environment (RISE) co-teaching the NSC 192 Seminar in the fall. He currently serves as the faculty advisor for the Leadership in Environmental and Agricultural Fields (LEAF) student club, CSUS Graduate Student Organization and the Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity.