People

The Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture is a volunteer based organization.

Board of Directors

  • Mitch Tucker – President
  • Jim Carrel – Treasurer
  • Eric McDavid – Secretary
  • Sarah Bantz
  • John Emery
  • Jill Lucht
  • Ellen Thomas
  • Jan Weaver

Staff Coordinators

Billy Polansky (billyp@columbiaurbanag.org) works as the General Manager of Columbia’s Center for Urban Agriculture, leading the day-to-day operations. He moved to Columbia in 2008 to be with his now-wife and fellow CCUA team member, Carrie Hargrove. Before coming to Columbia, Billy spent time working at the Heifer Ranch educating people about agriculture and global poverty. He also served as an AmeriCorps VISTA at the Missouri River Communities Network, where he worked on local foods projects. Billy holds a bachelor’s degree in Geographic Science from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA and is now enrolled at Columbia College, in their MBA program. When Billy isn’t working, you can find him at home reading, petting kitty cats or working in his garden.

Carrie Hargrove (carrie@columbiaurbanag.org) is CCUA’s Farm Manager. She has worked with CCUA first as a volunteer in 2009 and 2010, and later as an employee since 2011. Carrie manages all aspects of commercial food production for the organization with help from participants in the Garden Greenhorn Program, with whom she shares the intricacies and techniques of small scale food production via hands-on experience. She loves being outside, and wishes she could spend most of her time identifying the myriad of insects found at the farm. In addition to bugs and the outdoors, Carrie loves her husband, Billy, and Martin Scorsese movies.

Liberty Hunter (landscaping@columbiaurbanag.org) is our Edible Landscaping Manager, which means she provides both a wide array of services to help those in the Columbia, Missouri area grow their own veggies and fruits, as well as helping out on Opportunity Gardens installations. Liberty previously co-owned The Salad Garden, a Certified Organic produce farm in Southern Boone County, and left her farm rental situation in the country to get more involved growing food in the city.  She grew up in a gardening household, but what really got her interested in sustainable agriculture was a Nutrition class in college. She became interested in food as medicine and then realized she really loved being outside and growing it.

Adam Saunders, (adam@columbiaurbanag.org) as the Public Outreach Coordinator, conducts outreach and promotional talks with local social groups, businesses, and potential partners. He also helps coordinate CCUA’s online outreach presence, strategic planning, and fundraising efforts. Adam has been involved in community, agriculture and environmental organizing in Columbia, MO, since 2005 as a student with Sustain Mizzou. He has been gardening since a young age, and, being the son of two teachers, Adam has considered himself an informal teacher his whole life.  Within the CCUA, Adam is able to combine these passions to connect the dots within the local food system – an exciting place to be working!

Trish Woolbright (og@columbiaurbanag.org) is CCUA’s Opportunity Gardens Program Coordinator. Trish has always had a love for growing her own food and being an environmental steward while also helping people live happily with the natural world. Trish’s previous experience includes serving as a social worker and conservation biologist in many different areas such as Namibia in sub-Saharan Africa; Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti, Michigan; Chattanooga, TN. She has spent time in the Peace Corps and worked for a few other non-profit organizations. Trish received her bachelor’s in psychology from Washburn University; she is a Master Gardener and will be pursuing her Master Preserver and Master Naturalist certificates in the next two years. In her free time, she likes to garden, draw, cook, and read.

Heather Gillich (education@columbiaurbanag.org) is the Education and Volunteer Coordinator for CCUA. In this role, Heather organizes field trips and farm tours, provides structure for potlucks and workshops, and recruits and trains our volunteers and interns. Heather graduated with a BA in Psychology from Hood College in Frederick, Maryland and completed graduated work in Ancient History and Cultural Sustainability. Her previous work includes working with adults and youth in Frederick, MD and Nashville, TN on community development projects before she accepted an AmeriCorps VISTA position with CCUA. Since moving to Columbia in March, 2012, Heather has worked to create space for genuine learning experiences at the Urban Farm. She is proud of the partnership in education that CCUA is forming in the community and looks forward to many awesome projects to come!  If you catch Heather in her free time, she will likely be enjoying the produce from her neighborhood community garden, biking on the Katy Trail, or spending some quality time outside with her dog.

AmeriCorps VISTAS

Erin King, (pr@columbiaurbanag.org) as the Public Relations and Advocacy VISTA to CCUA from the AmeriCorps program, manages CCUA’s public relations and visual presence using her background and skills in graphic design, fundraising, event promotion and social media. She first discovered her immense passion for non-profit work at the 2011 Saint Louis Art Fair, where she worked as an artist and volunteer relations intern. It was also there that she learned about the AmeriCorps program from another intern, which proved to be a great way for her to combine her degree with her desire to do good for others. She’s a graduate from Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri, where she acquired a bachelor’s with a double major in Advertising & Marketing Communications, and Art with a Studio Emphasis. When not working, Erin can be found making art, serving at the soup kitchen, and singing in the Columbia Chorale.

Kelsey Grant, (edu_vista@columbiaurbanag.org) currently serves with AmeriCorps VISTA as the Urban Farm Educator. As an Urban Farm Educator, she performs tasks for both the education and volunteer departments. Some of her main duties include volunteer recruitment, Pre-K – 12 educational experiences, and adult service learning. After serving last year with AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) in Vinton, Iowa she was ready to continue in service. One project last year really sparked Kelsey’s interest in food systems and the non-profit world. She wanted to explore both worlds, and the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture was the perfect fit! She’s a graduate of Salisbury University, with a bachelor of arts in social work and minor in psychology. A native of the east coast from Dover, Delaware, Kelsey can be found at the library or outside riding her bike.

Part-Time Staff

Lori McCurdy (lori@columbiaurbanag.org) currently works with CCUA’s Edible Landscaping department, consulting clients on ways to improve their landscapes by integrating native plants as well as edibles.  She also collaborates with community members and educators at various elementary schools on ways to better integrate nature into the curriculum, into the school yard, and into the daily experience of today’s nature-starved kids. Throughout her career, she has had a strong interest in connecting others to the natural world around them, because she believes understanding the ways in which we are interconnected to the earth is imperative to our success as a society. Lori acquired her Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies at Colorado State University, and in 2009, was certified as a Missouri Master Naturalist. When she’s not working, she can be found playing outside with her husband and their two kids.

Dr. Ellen Moore (data@columbiaurbanag.org) has nearly twenty years of experience working in health, human service, and sustainability related fields, but currently serves part time as Data Manager for Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture and full time Home Based Support Service Coordinator at Boone County Family Resources. She earned her Ph.D. in Human Environmental Sciences from the University of Missouri in 2010 with a dissertation on sustainable community design.  Her Master’s degrees are in Social Work and Public Administration with a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies.  Ellen’s life goal is to live on a mountain with a view of the sea.  Until she realizes that dream, she will be raising healthy, socially conscious children, supporting families through her work at BCFR and helping CCUA establish strong information systems to support sustainable urban agriculture projects.

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