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.
RISE Assistant Director, Former Student Organic Farm Director
Denae is the new RISE Program Assistant Director. In 2005 she earned her BS in Biology and Sociology at Saint Mary’s College in South Bend, IN and, after graduation, moved to Chicago to work in public health research at Northwestern University and University of Illinois. She’s currently working on a Masters’ in Higher Education at MSU. She has been working at MSU since 2009 in various roles at the Student Organic Farm, most recently as the Interim Director and Farm Manager and is excited to bring her passion for food and farming to the RISE program. Along with all the duties of Assistant Director she will also be focusing on the integration of Bailey Greenhouse and Urban Farm and Land Grant Goods.
Denae Friedhelm works with the student managers at the Bailey GREENhouse on planning and troubleshooting issues related to the farm’s production. The first time she visited she remembers being so impressed by how productive and beautiful the GREENhouse was. She believes that having a green space such as this in the middle of campus is such a gift to all who work and learn at MSU, promoting not only a great example of healthy food production on campus but also as an opportunity for students to improve their mental health by unplugging and connecting to their work in this space. Those who volunteer at BGHUF might also like volunteering at the SOF. Feel free to check them out!
Matt R. Raven
Professor of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Education
Matt R. Raven has worked with RISE and the farm since 2012. He helped build the hoophouse and was one of the first to plant a crop in it. Matt’s CSUS 200 section has been involved with RISE, and he also co-taught the RISE Seminar from 2012-2016. As an agricultural educator, he enjoys teaching students about agriculture and food systems. Matt has always been impressed with the quality of students in RISE, and he loves assisting students with special projects like the Tiny House Build in 2015.
Assistant Professor; Department of Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences
Gregory Bonito’s interests in mycology and sustainable development mesh well with efforts at the farm to cultivate edible and gourmet mushrooms using low-tech means. Gregory serves as a mentor for the Bailey Hall Mushroom Team who work in the mycology lab to isolate fungal strains and produce mushroom spawn for Bailey GREENhouse and gardens. In addition to truffle and mushroom research, the Bonito lab studies fungal and bacterial community dynamics and interactions in composts, soils and plants. Gregory finds that the Bailey GREENhouse is a wonderful example of student expression, creativity and passion. He loves the diversity of crops, projects, people and ideas that appear to grow with the garden.
Academic Specialist; Entomology | Coordinator of the Michigan Pollinator Initiative
Meghan Milbrath works with the Bailey Bee Team to maintain the honey bee colonies on the rooftop of Bailey hall. The bees provide pollination for the vegetables on the farm, and honey and wax for the students in Land Grant Goods to sell. She is happy to support the students that wanted to put bees at the GREENhouse to remind the students and visitors about the necessity of pollinators in their food production, and to provide more information and experience with honey bees.
Professor; Department of Horticulture
Brad Rowe initially became involved when advising on the installation of the green roof on Bailey Hall. He saw that it was a great opportunity for all students to get hands-on experience. His research focuses on green roofs. They provide many benefits including stormwater management, building energy conservation, mitigation of the urban heat island, habitat for wildlife, and a place to grow vegetables on normally wasted space. Brad is also currently a member of the Student Organic Farm Advisory Group.
Having spent most of his life on a farm, Michael Everett appreciates and understands the value of working with the land as well as the value of the plants and animals that inhabit our ecosystems. He thinks it is critically important that all people have that same opportunity to live and learn in this type of system. Bailey provides students with a great opportunity where they can apply knowledge learned in the classroom (NSC 192 and other relevant courses at MSU) to farming and management practices long after one leaves the University. Having once been the owner of a retail farm operation, he understands the opportunities that exist to work with the lay public as well as being a steward to the land.