Meet Our Former Employees

Danan Elkins-Greene Portrait

I am a native of Colorado and grew up watching my mom garden. She mainly grew ornamental plants and flowers for the yard. The only foods I remember harvesting as a kid were green beans and tomatoes. I never really had an interest in gardening until I started studying nutrition. I became much more interested in where food came from and how it was grown. I started volunteering at the UCCS farm during the Summer between semesters and loved it. I wanted to volunteer doing something that was applicable to my degree path. As other students graduated, a student job began available and I was able to take over one of those positions. I also began growing my own back yard garden during the warmer months. I love the experience of growing my own food, knowing how it was grown, that it is so fresh and it tastes so much better. This year I even began composting to build and nourish my own back yard soil. Working at the UCCS farm has taught me the basic guiding principles of food stewardship, from seed to plate. In addition to food stewardship, the farm and greenhouse are excellent examples of how other concentrations like engineering, communications and geography can be integrated into the function and design of the farm and greenhouse. All majors can benefit by being involved with the food production at the UCCS farm. Not only does everyone need to eat, but structures and systems have to be designed and built, soils and surfaces have to be studied and cultivated and people have to be educated about how all of these systems work together to produce something as simple as a carrot. Local food is a critical part of a community. Working with the UCCS farm and coordinating programs like Food Next Door, I have seen first hand how these relationships work together and fresh local food can be a part of everyone's life at some level, no matter what their degree path.

Photo of Alyce Suave pictured in the greenhouse among the plants

I am a nutrition and biology double major, graduating in May of 2017. I am hoping to continue on to a Master's program in Nutrition, and eventually take the exam to become a registered dietitian. I grew up all over the world as my father is retired Navy, but Colorado is my home and where I have been since middle school. In the fall of 2015, I learned about the Farmhouse in one of my nutrition classes. I already spend my summers working at a local plant nursery, so volunteering at the Farmhouse felt like a perfect fit where I could broaden my knowledge.

Eric Gaulke: I have had some gardening experience in the past while working with a local non-profit organization here in Colorado Springs. We helped install gardens for homeowners and would take care of a few ourselves. Every garden we helped install was all done using hand tools such as digging forks and McClouds. We also purchased some vegetables from farmers East of Pueblo in the Arkansas Valley and sold them to local people at senior centers, nursing homes and the flea market. All the gardening I did for the non-profit was in the ground gardening (no raised beds or greenhouses).  While working for the greenhouse at UCCS I hope to gain a good understanding and knowledge base of working with raised beds and greenhouses because there are a lot of differences and new things to learn than working in the ground provides. I also really enjoy the idea of growing food right on campus that will be served to students in the café helping to reduce the schools dependence on third party farmers and fossil fuels. Hopefully we can set an example that every other school and university in the nation can follow!

Photo of UCCS Greenhouse employee Chris Everhart

Chris Everhart: I was born and raised in Colorado and I am a second year engineering student here at UCCS.  Born and raised in a farming community I saw this job as a natural fit to my current skill set.  Even with the three hour round trip to and from work I look forward to coming in and doing something.  I always love working with plants. 

Photo of Marlee Canada in front of the Greenhouse

Marlee Canada:  I'm a senior here at UCCS. I'm originally from the San Luis Valley of Colorado but transferred from Adams State College in 2012 to attend UCCS to major in Geography & Environmental Science. Whether it's camping, hiking, hunting, or gardening, I love spending time outside enjoying the beauty of our lovely state. It's been so exciting to watch the Greenhouse & Garden develop and I can't wait to see how it will impact the campus in coming years!

Photo of Sara Santa Cruz pictured in the greenhouse among the plants

Sara Santa Cruz:  My name is Sara and I am a graduate student in Applied Geography, with a focus on regenerative food systems and biocultural restoration. In addition to working at the UCCS Greenhouse, I am the Graduate Student Supervisor at the Yawn Valley Student Garden, which is in the process of transitioning into a space for education and food literacy through utilization of permaculture and traditional agricultural techniques. My work focuses on reconnecting people, food, and place to create a more sustainable future for us all. 

Photo of Kelley Jennings, Greenhouse and Garden Manager, pictured in the greenhouse among the plants

Rebecca Duran: My name is Rebecca and for me, the UCCS Greenhouse and Gardens is an oasis from the hustle and bustle of the modern world. I love the inner feeling and satisfaction of knowing that the seeds I sow will feed fellow students on campus. As an undergraduate in the psychology department specializing in industrial and organizational Psychology, I am especially interested in the campus culture emphasized at UCCS centered on developing systems for a completely sustainable future.

photo of Andrea Vanderwoude

Andrea Vanderwoude: My name is Andrea, a native Idahoan, transplanted to Colorado, specifically UCCS to study my passion of Sports Nutrition. Having grown up in the country on a small family owned dairy farm, I have been connected to growing food and raising animals my whole life. This instilled a love for tasty, fresh food from early on, which is why I did my undergraduate work in dietetics and became a Dietitian. What is lacking in the system though, is a connection to where our food comes from. Working here and with food service I can connect my roots and the hard labor of growing plants to the eateries on campus to provide not only healthy and tasty foods for students that is good for them, but good for the planet too. "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." - Hippocrates

photo of George Pagonis

George Pagonis: My name is George, and I am in the pre-business program at UCCS. I really like working with the plants and learning the different techniques and methods to grow plants.

photo of Marcos Willman

Marcos Willman: My name is Marcos. I have been working at the greenhouse since early summer. I am privileged to be able to work doing what I am most passionate about, growing food! I am in the GES department getting my minor in sustainable development. Happy Farming!