Staff Directory

Karen von Huene (Executive Director)

Karen comes to Community GroundWorks by following a serendipitous career path. Until 2008, when she became the Executive Director of Wisconsin Lakes, a statewide lake advocacy organization, Karen worked in community-based social service agencies. She has had the unique opportunity to change her focus from social work to working with water, environmental advocacy, and stewardship.

Karen relocated to Madison from Santa Fe, NM, a decision driven by a desire to be closer to water and a verdant landscape. Having spent most of her adult life in the desert southwest, she has much more experience with water conservation than the average Wisconsinite. Karen lives in Waunakee on Six Mile Creek with her husband, Karl, a lab named Hank, and too many cats.

Anna Varriano (Administrative Assistant)

Anna is a Montana mountain woman who moved to Madison in 2014. Her prior nonprofit experience includes work in conservation and food security, so she is a great fit for Community GroundWorks. She started out as an administrative intern in August and was hired to full time shortly thereafter. She is excited to explore the Midwest with her best pal, Molly the Rottweiler.

Jake Hoeksema (Farm Director)

Jacob Hoeksema loves to grow food for other people and has been doing so professionally since 2000. In addition to his time in the field, Jake also takes the lead on sprout production and marketing, regular greenhouse infrastructure improvements and plant monitoring, and equipment upkeep. Jake lives in the Troy Gardens cohousing community with his wife Kat, son Oliver and daughter Grace. In the winter Jake can often be found pursuing his other passion: sleeping outside in the cold.

Garrett Peterson (Assistant Farm Manager)

A lifelong Wisconsinite, Garrett landed in Madison in 2006, where he was introduced to the thriving local food movement and has been working on discovering his role in it ever since. Instrumental along his journey has been time spent with Fitchburg Fields, Community GroundWorks, Voss Organics, Edgewood College’s Sustainability Leadership Program, and the Community Action Coalition. Garrett is grateful for the opportunity to return to Troy Farm to help connect others to this land and organization. During his free time, Garrett enjoys indulging in Wisconsin treasures: craft beer, artisan cheese, and homemade meals prepared by his patient and supportive partner, Joslyn.

Annali Smucker-Bryan (Crew Leader)

Originally from Pennsylvania, Annali hails most recently from Waco, Texas where she worked on an educational farm and ran an after school gardening program for two years. In January of 2013 Annali and her husband Zac moved to Madison for its vibrant local food scene and bikeability. Working at a chocolate shop in the off season, Annali worked at Troy as an intern the last two seasons and fell in love with farming in the North and the unique Troy community. Passionate about food, earth care and education, Annali is very excited to join the Community GroundsWorks staff as crew leader for the farm. When she is not farming, you can often find her biking places with her husband, spending time with her church community, and cooking and eating the food she grows.

Nathan Larson (Education Director)

Nathan Larson joined Community GroundWorks as the Education Director in 2006. He has worked as a garden and nature educator for the past twelve years. Nathan directs urban farm and garden education programs for pre-K-12 students including the Troy Kids’ Garden Program and Goodman Youth Grow Local Farm. Nathan provides professional development for school teachers, college students and community educators locally and nationally through workshops, courses, and trainings including the annual Growing Minds course. He writes garden-based curricula and recently co-authored Got Veggies?: A Garden-Based Nutrition Education Curriculum. He also conducts collaborative research with faculty partners at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and he is a Senior Outreach Associate in the Department of Landscape Architecture. Nathan—a third generation Madisonian—lives with his wife and children at Troy Gardens. In addition to growing food, he thoroughly enjoys skiing on freshly fallen snow and walking barefoot in the sand.

Ginny Hughes (Program Manger)

Ginny Hughes is the Program Manger for the Troy Kids' Garden. Before joining Community GroundWorks, she earned a master's degree in Environmental Leadership from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. She co-founded and managed the Sherman Middle School garden on the northside of Madison. She is passionate about sharing the magic of the garden with kids and is delighted to be working at Troy Gardens. Ginny lives and gardens here with her husband and two children. She also enjoys bikram yoga and color-coded filing systems.

Beth Hanna (Training and Outreach Specialist for the Wisconsin School Garden Initiative)

Beth Hanna is the Training and Outreach Specialist for the Wisconsin School Garden Initiative. Supported by the UW School of Medicine and Public Health's Wisconsin Partnership Program, the Wisconsin School Garden Initiative aims to build off the success of the Got Dirt? Garden Initiative to employ youth gardening and garden-based education strategies to reduce rates of overweight and obesity in Wisconsin's children. Beth is eager to use her background in teaching and Public Health to get more Wisconsin kids in the dirt. Beth, her husband, and their two dogs are recent transplants to Madison and are already enamored with the good food, numerous trails, and welcoming people this city has to offer.

Jennica Skoug (Goodman Youth Grow Local Farm manager)

Before joining Community GroundWorks, Jennica earned a master's degree in Environmental Education from UW-Stevens Point, where she helped run environmental education programs and care for 33 chickens at the Central Wisconsin Environmental Station. Jennica has worn a variety of educational hats, such as coordinating a school garden program in Kalamazoo, Michigan and teaching math as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Vanuatu, where she gardened next to banana trees. Her love of well-grown food and the outdoors began in her family's garden, from which she sold gigantic zucchinis out of a little red wagon with her brother. Besides vegetables, Jennica enjoys collecting corny jokes and puns, early morning runs, and winter canoeing adventures.

Shelly Strom (Community Land and Gardens Director)

On the day I was born, my parents planted a willow in honor of my birth. My family’s love of nature and gardening put me on a life-long tree-hugging and beet-eating trajectory. Since then, I have lived around the world, studied natural resources, science communication, landscape architecture and horticulture therapy. I am now deeply rooted in Madison and pleased to call Community GroundWorks my home for outdoor wonderment and engagement with nature. I’ll see you on the Land!