Board of Directors and Staff


Julia Valentine, President
Julia Valentine teaches gardening in the Sonoma County public schools to children K-8th grade, where her passion for education and gardening are best realized. She is also a trained Waldorf kindergarten teacher with over a decade of experience, as well as a permaculture designer and teacher.  Julia is a founding member of Transition Sebastopol, and works closely with the Sebastopol Grange.

Elizabeth Westerfield, Treasurer
An educator and a gardener for over 20 years, Elizabeth Westerfield has taught English to Oakland middle schoolers, gardening to urban elementary school students, and English as a Second Language and GED preparation to adults in San Francisco and the greater Bay Area.  She also assists clients with garden design, development and maintenance.  Currently, she and her family  live in Forestville where they grow, glean, harvest, and process much of what they eat.  She is passionate about the importance of teaching all people the values of eating healthy and growing healthy food, treating the earth with respect, and creating community.

Aimee Vorhaus, Secretary
Aimee is a sustainable agriculture and healthy foods activist who believes school gardens are crucial to promoting a better understanding of how food is connected to our personal and environmental health.  She has a background in fundraising and grant writing, and is currently the School Garden Chair at Grant Elementary where she has spearheaded the development of a new Outdoor Classroom and Learning Garden.   Aimee also serves on several boards and committees at the local level, including Slow Foods Marin-Petaluma.  She holds a Master’s degree from Brown University and a Bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University.  Aimee lives with her husband and two young children in Petaluma, CA where she grows fruit and vegetables year-round in their quarter-acre garden.

Laurel Anderson
Laurel Anderson is a founding member of the School Garden Network. She was the School Garden Coordinator at Salmon Creek School for the past fourteen years and is a regular guest instructor at Occidental Arts and Ecology’s annual School Garden Trainings. She currently works as a SGN garden mentor, is a coordinator of SGN’s Schoolyard Habitat Program, and is actively involved in the local farm to school movement. Laurel is passionate about shelling beans and seedsaving and helped to start the West County Community Seed Exchange.  She lives with her fifteen year old son and partner on the Laguna in Sebastopol and loves to explore the Sierras!


Lisa Preschel, Interim Executive Director

Lisa is the former Director of Occidental Arts and Ecology Center’s School Garden Teacher Training and Support Program. She has a Biology/Spanish degree from Bard College, and is a volunteer Master Gardener. Before relocating to the Occidental area in 2006, she worked for the University of California Cooperative Extension in Trinity County teaching lessons on healthy eating and physical activity to students and low-income adults. Lisa directed a USDA food security project and food assessment in her rural community, which helped create community and school gardens. She has a deep love for plants and animals, and enjoys observing nature and working in gardens. Lisa worked for many years on horse farms, and built her own country homestead, living off the grid for 10 years.  She is an active community volunteer, serving on the Sonoma County Food System Alliance, the School Garden Network Board, and helping at the Sonoma County Animal Shelter and Sonoma Humane Society.

Tracy Batchelder, Administrator

Tracy has volunteered for her children’s school gardens and parent teacher organizations for many years. She believes that school gardens play an important role by introducing students to essential connections between nature and their own health. Tracy has a Masters of Environmental Management (MEM) from Duke University and a B.A. from U.C. Berkeley. She has worked on conservation projects and programs in the United States and Latin America with government agencies and non-profit organizations. Working with SGN affords her the opportunity to combine her experience in non-profit management and natural resources management with her interest in education, gardening, and nutrition.