PERENNIALS: WE KEEP COMING BACK EVERY YEAR!

Erika Beaudin, Farm Program Manager
ERIKA BIO

Growing up, Erika was often in the garden or in the mountains with her family.    Her interest in healthy, whole foods cooking developed during her time as a dancer and Pilates instructor. Nature and nutrition collided when Erika started the Acme Elementary School Garden and taught Garden Ed to engage children in observation and exploration of the natural world.  In the garden and in the kitchen, Erika explores how nature nourishes us.  Erika has created a garden nearly everywhere she has ever lived and now homesteads with her husband and two boys near Deming.  Erika loves hiking, exploring the Nooksack river and doing all kinds of puzzles.

Kathy Capron, Volunteer Manager / Admin Support
KATHY CAPRON BIO

(she/her/hers)

Why do you choose to work at Common Threads? I love bringing the earth nourishment to our kids at school.  Giving nourishment to kids through teaching about food and cooking is a life skill that they can utilize far beyond school.  I also love being a part of an amazing community of people who invest in the future of our lands and our children.

Favorite vegetable: Zucchini

One fun fact about me: I have a twin brother

 
Jenna Deane, Education Program Manager
JENNA DEANE BIO

(she/her/hers)

Why do you choose to work at Common Threads? I believe that all children deserve garden and food education and have seen firsthand how a school garden can positively impact a child’s relationship with eating fruits and vegetables.  I love sharing my passion for garden education with our AmeriCorps educators, classroom teachers, and students.

Favorite vegetable: Asparagus

One fun fact about me: I’m an outrigger canoe paddler.

Margo Heffron, Cooking Program & Systems Manager

Margo Heffron BIO

Margo has a life-long passion for growing and eating healthy sustainable food, born in her family’s kitchen and garden. A Seattle native, Margo took a nutrition class at Nathan Hale High School that solidified that interest, and joined the Glean Team and Organic garden when she attended Whitman College in Walla Walla. After graduating with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Economics, Margo returned to the Pacific Northwest to work with campers at YMCA Camp Orkila, coach Ultimate, and teach kids about ecology at Seattle Audubon Nature Camps. In 2018, she joined the Common Threads’ Team as an AmeriCorps Food Educator and taught at Cordata and Columbia Elementary schools. She loved her new community so much that she decided to stay for a second term teaching at Cordata and leading the cooking and camp programs. She is proud and honored to join the Perennial team to continue to improve and support garden and food education. 

Jessica Moerman, Communications & Evaluation Manager
JESSICA MOERMAN BIO

Jessica grew up in a farming town and has strong memories of berry picking and preserving the harvest. She developed an interest in food production and nutrition during her undergraduate degree at the University of British Columbia, where she volunteered as a classroom tour leader at the UBC Farm. Prior to coming to Common Threads, Jessica served as the Program Director for Child & Youth services for a nonprofit in Vancouver, B.C. and holds a Master of Arts in Community Development. She now lives with her husband and two children in Bellingham, and enjoys going on family hikes, reading, and cuddling their cats.

Laura Plaut, Executive Director
LAURA PLAUT BIO

(she/her/hers)

Why do you choose to work at Common Threads? How we interact with food (growing, preparing, sharing, etc.) has the potential to be our greatest source of nourishment and connection or our greatest source of illness and isolation. I choose to work at Common Threads because I prefer nourishment and connection over illness and isolation!

I sometimes joke that Common Threads was born of my mid-life crisis: how did I, a “well-educated” adult, manage to live so long understanding so little about our food system?!

Common Threads is also my prayer to my own son and to all the other children who – through no fault of their own – are seduced by the colorful sugary options that so many marketing dollars put in front of them every day. May all of our children have access to the information and experiences that make healthy food choices joyful, easy and accessible.

Favorite vegetable: Salad turnip

One fun fact about me: I’m getting back into rock climbing after a long break

ANNUALS: AmeriCorps Service Members join us each year as our boots on the ground

Tessa Bolon, AmeriCorps Food Educator (Geneva, Harmony)
Tessa BIO

(she/her/hers or they/them/theirs)

What state did you most recently live in? Florida! 

Why are you choosing to serve as an AmeriCorps member at Common Threads? I chose to serve because I am passionate about growing my own food and love that Common Threads Farm allows me to share my passion with students in the public school district!

Favorite vegetable: Beets 

One fun fact about me: I was born with a cleft palette and so a doctor made my uvula! 

Lauren Bowie, AmeriCorps Food Educator (Birchwood)
Lauren BIO

(she/her/hers)

What state did you most recently live in? Nevada

Why are you choosing to serve as an AmeriCorps member at Common Threads? When I discovered the Food Educator position with Common Threads it felt like a really good way to bring  together two things that I love; gardening and interacting with kids. I have a background in agriculture work as well as education, and I am really looking forward to building a community through this framework. There is a lot of value in learning where food comes from and understanding the labor that goes into it. I can’t wait to have the chance to connect kids to this exciting process. I am also eager to learn more about the work Common Threads does with food justice in the community and be able to identify barriers, and later break down those barriers, to accessing healthy foods. There are many inequities that need attention within our communities, but I’m happy to know that there are great people working to make the world a more equitable and just place to live.  

Favorite vegetable: Lacinato kale

One fun fact about me: I love to dance!

Giorgie DePaolis, AmeriCorps Food Educator (Columbia)
Giorgie BIO

(they/them/theirs)

What state did you most recently live in? Washington 

Why are you choosing to serve as a Response Corps member at Common Threads? Love things that grow, love cooking food! 

Favorite vegetable: Depends on how they’re cooked, but I love a good bean!

One fun fact about me: I like to get really creative when it comes to what I add to homemade gluten free bread (fun nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and herbs)

 Emma Gramling, Response Corps Food Educator
Emma BIO

(she/her/hers)

What state did you most recently live in? Maine

Why are you choosing to serve as a Response Corps member at Common Threads? As an avid gardener, farmer and student athlete I have always been interested in the relationships between food and health.  In college I studied Nutrition and learned not only the importance of food in diets, but its importance in community, religion and culture.  I strongly believe that everyone has the right to healthy, culturally appropriate food. And I think that connecting to the food we eat is a great step in the direction of food sovereignty and health equity.  I am so excited to be a part of Common Threads and to learn and grow with the Bellingham Community!

Favorite vegetable: Sugar snap peas

One fun fact about me: One of my top 5 favorite places is Fenway Park in Boston, MA.

Evelyn Gray, AmeriCorps Food Educator (Whatcom, Shuksan)
Evelyn BIO

(she/her/hers)

What state did you most recently live in? Montana

Why are you choosing to serve as an AmeriCorps member at Common Threads? I want to share my enthusiasm for growing food with the people of my community and develop meaningful connections through food education. Additionally, I want to be a part of the food access projects that Common Threads has developed in Whatcom County to bolster food security and food sovereignty. My background is in sustainable crop production, permaculture, and food bank gardens; I’m a big believer in growing food for the people!

Favorite vegetable: Beets

One fun fact about me: I am a huge nerd for soils and soil microbes! My approach to gardening is focused on the quality of the soil I’m working with and how to invigorate nutrient cycling, so I am never one to shy away from a big stinky pile of compost.

 

Asha Grossberndt, AmeriCorps Food Educator (Lowell, Happy Valley)
Asha BIO

(she/her/hers)

What state did you most recently live in? New York

Why are you choosing to serve as an AmeriCorps member at Common Threads? Serving at Common Threads offers an opportunity to empower students to have greater food access and education. I spent a semester living and learning in the Adirondacks during college that provided me with incredible insight into issues of food access and community resilience through education and improving access. I am excited to learn how I can potentially implement the tools I learned in the Adirondacks to Bellingham through serving at Common Threads. 

Favorite vegetable: Garlic

One fun fact about me: I competed in a 90 mile canoe race.

Corinne Hill-James, Response Corps Food Educator
Corinne BIO

(she/her/hers)

What state did you most recently live in? Vermont

Why are you choosing to serve as a Response Corps member at Common Threads? I believe that food serves as the foundation of healthy and happy lives. I am excited about sharing my passion for gardens so that more people can take part in the beauty, wonder, and fun that they offer, just as much as I am excited about learning from others about what growing and eating food means to them!

Favorite vegetable: Ketchup

One fun fact about me: Geraniums are my favorite flower.

Kara Henry, AmeriCorps Food Educator (Northern Heights)
Kara BIO

(she/her/hers)

What state did you most recently live in? Washington

Why are you choosing to serve as an AmeriCorps member at Common Threads? I’m excited to serve as a Food Educator with Common Threads because as a kid, I loved to try new foods, but I never really thought about where they came from. In recent years, I have come to learn more about our food systems and the different ways we can engage with what we eat. This position will offer me an opportunity to work with my co-workers and the community to reimagine how we think about and interact with our food and our environment. I can’t wait to grow with everyone (and the plants!). 

Favorite vegetable: Arugula

One fun fact about me: I am a late-blooming horse person. 

Efrain Ibarra, Response Corps Food Educator (Happy Valley)
Efrain BIO

(he/him/his)

What state did you most recently live in? Washington

Why are you choosing to serve as a Response Corps member at Common Threads? Food is love and life, and every child deserves to learn about the food that comes from the ground as well as our co-reliant relationship with nature. 

Favorite vegetable: On good days Nappa Cabbage on bad days potatoes. 

One fun fact about me: Parsley, not cilantro, tastes like soap to me.

 
 
 
 
Abigail Morrow, AmeriCorps Food Educator (Cordata, Sunnyland)
Abigail BIO

(she/her/hers)

What state did you most recently live in? Iowa

Why are you choosing to serve as an AmeriCorps member at Common Threads? I’m passionate about connecting kids and teens to the food they eat and equipping them with the life skills they need to have happy and healthy futures. As a person with food allergies, it is important to me to be a role model for young people with dietary restrictions whose plates may not look like those of their peers. Growing up with a restricted diet has taught me a lot about creating delicious meals even with some missing food groups–which is why I am delighted to bring some knowledge about the free-from lifestyle to Common Threads!

Favorite vegetable: Sweet corn

One fun fact about me: My hometown is one of the only places in the country with black squirrels.

Olivia Ng, AmeriCorps Food Educator (Fisher, Parkview)
Olivia BIO

What state did you most recently live in? North Carolina

Why are you choosing to serve as an AmeriCorps member at Common Threads? In college, I studied environmental justice art and activism, food justice, and sustainable agriculture, and transitioned to a low-impact lifestyle where I reasessed my values, decisions, and impact on the planet. Since then, I’ve become more intentional and aware of social and environmental issues, and taught myself how to cook delicious, nutritious plant-based food. Common Threads is an incredible opportunity to share my knowledge and experience with other students to help them expand their worldview, learn how to grow and cook their own food, and work towards building a healthy and sustainable future!

Favorite vegetable: Sweet potatoes

One fun fact about me: I wrote and illustrated a children’s book about the social and environmental impact of creating new things on earth!

Tristen Pohlman, AmeriCorps Food Educator (Silver Beach, Alderwood)
Tristen BIO

(he/him/his)

What state did you most recently live in? California before moving to Washington.

Why are you choosing to serve as an AmeriCorps member at Common Threads?  During my time studying Political Science at WWU, I made the study of Comprehensive Politics and Intersectionality a key focus for my degree. I want to aid marginalized and disenfranchised communities obtain the basic necessities to cultivate wellbeing and growth. I believe Common Threads is the perfect place for me to start, by aiding those who struggle with food insecurity. Having access to healthy food and nutrition knowledge is crucial for developing minds and I hope by aiding Common Threads in its mission I can help the next generation cultivate generational habits for health and wellbeing! 

Favorite vegetable: Bell Peppers!

One fun fact about me: Swimming with the Bellingham Bioluminescence is my favorite summer pastime! 

 

Kelsey Schoen, AmeriCorps Food Educator (Columbia, Roosevelt)
Kelsey BIO

(she/her/hers)

What state did you most recently live in? Washington State

Why are you choosing to serve as an AmeriCorps member at Common Threads? I have always had a love of farming and a love of teaching. My grandpa was a farmer and my mom is a Kindergarten teacher. Education and farming have always been prevalent in my life. I went to college to pursue a degree in Agriculture and Food Education at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. I realized quickly into my college years the lack of garden education in schools all over the country. I then found Common Threads and quickly applied. This year is my second year at Common Threads and I am excited to continue sharing my passion for food education and food justice!

Favorite vegetable: I love carrots because I carrot a lot about food education. 

One fun fact about me: I placed in the top 10 in a FFA potato judging competition in high school.

Karey Sharp, AmeriCorps Food Educator (Kulshan, Fairhaven)
Karey BIO

(she/her/hers or they/them/theirs)

What state did you most recently live in? Washington

Why are you choosing to serve as an AmeriCorps member at Common Threads? I recently started taking care of a garden in a community garden and I love the way gardening can bring people together and bring us closer to where our food comes from. I studied Environmental Science with a minor in Environmental Justice at WWU and became passionate about food justice. I am excited to learn how food education can play a role in increasing food security in our community. Also, I’m excited to share excitement and wonder with youth about how cool plants are and their role in our environment and our lives.

Favorite vegetable: Tomatoes and all forms of potatoes

One fun fact about me: Mermaids are my favorite animal.

Sam Spaeth, AmeriCorps Food Educator (Carl Cozier, Wade King)
Sam BIO

(she/her/hers)

What state did you most recently live in? Washington

Why are you choosing to serve as an AmeriCorps member at Common Threads? I’m curious and excited about school gardens as a place to increase food access and for students and their communities to connect with each other and the earth. Last year (I also served during the 20/21 service term), I fell in love with teaching and gardening and look forward to another year of learning and growing in these areas. 

Favorite vegetable: Persian Cucumbers

One fun fact about me: I’m afraid of being upside down.

Alex Strandberg, AmeriCorps Food Educator (Acme, Kendall)
Alex BIO

(she/her/hers)

What state did you most recently live in? Washington

Why are you choosing to serve as an AmeriCorps member at Common Threads? I love being outdoors, and supporting local communities, so when I learned about Common Threads I was super excited. Then the fact that Common Threads help students to learn about food and have access to that food was absolutely amazing. Being able to help like that is what led me to choosing Common Threads.

Favorite vegetable: Green beans

One fun fact about me: I have gone on two backpacking trips in Washington.

Nick Thomas, AmeriCorps Food Educator (Harmony)
Nick BIO

(he/him/his)

What state did you most recently live in? Here in Washington!

Why are you choosing to serve as an AmeriCorps member at Common Threads? When the pandemic hit, I was really interested in finding a way to transition out of food service and into a position that would give me a good introduction to teaching in a more formal setting, and Common Threads has done exactly that. I am very grateful for the service and opportunity that Common Threads has provided me with, as this has been a truly rewarding year in my life, and that makes me extremely happy. If you are interested in getting a feel for teaching in and outside of the classroom, and you have a passion for working with kiddos, I think this organization would be a great fit for you. 

Favorite vegetable: Zucchini

One fun fact about me: I have been snowboarding for a long time! Coming up on twenty years to be exact, and Mt. Baker Ski Area is actually the reason that I found myself calling Bellingham home nearly five years ago.

 

BOARD MEMBERS: THE SOIL THAT GROUNDS US IN OUR WORK

Board Members:
The soil that grounds us in our work

Chris Casquilho – President
Chris Casquilho BIO

(he/him/his)

Why do you choose to volunteer with Common Threads? What we eat and how we get it quietly dominates so many important spheres of life: health, economy, culture, ecology. Teaching kids how to make thoughtful choices about how and what to eat is a cornerstone of a thriving society. Sharing that knowledge with everyone – not just a few folks – is a game-changer.

Favorite vegetable: Onion

One fun fact about me: I used to perform vaudeville on the “Death Trail”

Casi Herrera – Vice President
Casi Herrera BIO

(she/her/hers)

Why do you choose to volunteer with Common Threads? There are few things more exciting than planting a seed and watching it grow into something beautiful. I had not participated in such an exercise until I was an adult. I love that my own children and the children in my community have the opportunity to plant, grow, and eat from gardens at their own schools. I am grateful that children get to experience this at a young age. 

Favorite vegetable: I cannot think of a vegetable I don’t love. If I had to choose, I would say spinach.

One fun fact about me: My family and I have a small farm in north Bellingham. We have chickens, pigs, cows, a large orchard and garden and a little roadside stand where we share our food with our friends and neighbors.

 
Madchen Petrie – Treasurer
Madchen Petrie BIO

(she/her/hers)

Why do you choose to volunteer with Common Threads?  I didn’t feel very connected to the food I ate until later in life, and now can see how huge a role it plays in how we feel, the communities and cultures we build, and our impact on the earth. I know plenty of adults who still feel very disconnected from the food they eat, and have no idea where it comes from. I wish I could have grown up with Common Threads and am proud to help further a mission that is making such a huge impact on kids’ lives. 

Favorite vegetable: All things brassica! 

One fun fact about me: My name translates to “girl” in German

Nolan Davidson – Secretary
Nolan Davidson BIO

(he/him/his)

Why do you choose to volunteer with Common Threads?  Common Threads provides an experience that, as an adult, I looked back and wished I had experienced as a kid. Gardening, growing food, cooking food–cultivating a connection with what we eat–is a crucial skill that too often fails to get conveyed to kids in school (and not everyone has the luxury of learning these things at home). It’s an honor and a pleasure to work for Common Threads.

Favorite vegetable: My favorite vegetable is the source of everything that’s pure and good in the world–chips, french fries, and vodka–the noble, glorious potato.

One fun fact about me: My resume says I’m a licensed tug boat captain.

Fred Berman
Fred Berman BIO

Why do you choose to volunteer with Common Threads? The most valuable thing about volunteering at Common Threads is the opportunity to interact with the students.  I have been privileged growing up not having to worry about a healthy, well balanced meal, lovingly prepared, at least three times daily.  Once I left my childhood home I learned to prepare my own meals from scratch, using fresh local and seasonal ingredients.  I was fortunate enough to grow much of what our family consumed while farming organically for more than 25 years, followed by a home garden ever since.  I’m passionate about ‘giving back’ to our community, protecting the environment for future generations, and nurturing good nutrition.  What better way than teaching kids to appreciate healthy foods and engage them in growing and preparing same!

Favorite vegetable: Asian eggplant when they’re in season, or carrots

One fun fact about me: I love all self propelled outdoor activities, especially open water swimming.

Gail Knops
Gail Knops BIO

Why do you choose to volunteer with Common Threads?  As a family physician, mom, and for my own life I believe what and how we nourish is important.  Common Threads is that belief in action.   With enthusiasm, knowledge and skill sharing in schools and other key settings, Common Threads practices the growth, preparation and experience of thoughtfully consuming good food.   I love how this enriches children’s and community experience, health and environment in my beloved hometown.   

Favorite vegetable: Carrots.  They are beautiful as is and roast into magical flavor.

One fun fact about me: My childhood heroes were Jane Goodall and “The Flying Nun.”