Coordinating Faculty

Laurie Thorp

BE843181-C656-4A9E-A5EA8B5C1367A4C3Laurie 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 Friedheimdenae-sof

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.

Contributing Faculty

DF875040-150B-44C8-82566A36A5CC6B11Matt Raven

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.

Heather Shea


Heather Shea currently works as the Assistant Program Director of RISE and is Consulting Faulty with the Center for Gender in the Global Context at MSU. She earned her master’s degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education from Colorado State University in 2000 and wrote her master’s thesis on multiracial identity development. Heather completed a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Business (Marketing) and a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts Degree in Graphic Design from Colorado State in 1998.  She and her family recently relocated to Michigan after spending the past five years in north Idaho, where Heather worked as the Director of the University of Idaho Women’s Center. She also served as affiliate faculty in the Sociology/Anthropology Department where she taught several workshops and a course on mentoring. Prior to moving to Idaho, Heather worked at the University of Arizona with multicultural affairs, commuter student services, and student leadership and involvement. She is a true student affairs generalist. She brings to RISE experience with assessment and strategic planning as well as teaching experience in sociology, women’s/gender studies, and leadership studies. She plans to begin a PhD in higher education administration in the near future. Heather’s research interests include feminist leadership, social justice activism, and student engagement via student activism. Her passions outside of working with college students include reading, running, and enjoying the outdoors with her children.

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