The Mission of Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center is to empower students and families from diverse backgrounds to be healthy and active citizens through organic gardening, environmental stewardship, and nutrition education. Our Vision is to reconnect students and families to the natural environment through food, education and community engagement.
Jen Nation - Executive DirectorJen grew up in Iowa where one of her favorite activities was planting and harvesting an annual garden with her family. After graduating from the University of Northern Iowa with a degree in non-profit administration, she has spent the past 20 years working for non-profits in a variety of roles, most recently with Girl Scouts San Diego. Jen values the importance of building an active, healthy and engaged community and hopes to create long-lasting relationships with not only the National City community, but with anyone who wishes to be a part of Olivewood Gardens. In her free time, Jen enjoys traveling, any and all outdoor activities, exploring farmers markets and the local food scene. Email: email@example.com
Leonard Vargas - Gardens and Facilities ManagerLeonard is the Gardens and Facilities Manager at Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center. He brings more than two decades of professional growing experience in San Diego County, and has been gardening since he was about 2. He most recently managed operations for Waterwise Botanicals in Bonsall and has overseen growing at Miramar Wholesale Nurseries, HerbThyme Farms, and other local nurseries. For many years, he managed the urban farm onsite at San Pasqual Academy in Escondido for their resident students. Leonard is excited to work with students and families here at Olivewood. He is happiest when his hands are in the soil and looks forward to inspiring and empowering our community to grow both food and flowers. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Claire Groebner - Interim DirectorClaire Groebner is the Interim Director at Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center. She has a B.A. in Sociology – Social Inequalities and Spanish Literature from UC San Diego. Prior to Olivewood, Claire worked in a number of different departments at UC San Diego. Claire’s love for people, nature, and food inspired her to get involved in the food justice and farm-to-table movements, and eventually, with Olivewood Gardens. In her free time, Claire likes to travel (preferably on foot and with a backpack on), dance, garden, and cook homegrown meals. Email: email@example.com
Callie Brust - Director of ProgramsCallie is the Director of Programs for Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center. She has her Masters in Public Health and is also a Registered Dietitian. Over the last 7 years, Callie has worked with non-profits in Atlanta, Georgia and locally with the San Diego Food Bank to implement nutrition education and food access programs. She has experience developing science-based nutrition curriculum and teaching classes for kids, families, and older adults. Callie is grateful for the opportunity to support all of the wonderful Olivewood Garden programs and cultivate community partnerships. In her spare time, Callie enjoys connecting with friends over new foods, watching college football, and adventuring around San Diego with her husband. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cristina Juarez - Coordinator of Volunteers and OutreachCristina is the Coordinator of Volunteers and Outreach at Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center. She grew up in Mexico and migrated to San Diego as a teenager, where she obtained her BA in Sociology from SDSU. Passionate about social issues, she conducted research for the San Diego State University Research Foundation and has been a community organizer for many years, getting young adults involved in different projects. She is interested in creating and supporting spaces where people can build community while they learn and pass onto others how to live loving, healthy lives. Cristina enjoys traveling, spending time with her nephews, and playing music with her friends. Email: email@example.com
Corrie Madueño - Schools CoordinatorCorrie Madueño is the Schools Coordinator at Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center. Corrie studied Spanish and Sustainability Studies at Point Loma Nazarene University where her passion for food justice blossomed. After graduation, she served as a Food Corps Service Member at the San Diego Unified School District and gained experience from one of the country’s most progressive Farm to School programs. Being a part of Olivewood Gardens is a dream come true for Corrie, and she is so thankful to be a part of such a supportive team and community. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Patty Corona - Cooking for Salud Coordinator
Rebecca Howat - Nutrition Educator
Ethan Cole - Garden Educator
Ethan Cole is the garden educator at Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center. He grew up in Connecticut and went to the University of Vermont with a major in Ecological Agriculture and minor in Anthropology. He has participated in multiple research projects, most notably constructing an indigenous Abenaki agro-forest style farm for the public to come view in St. Albans, VT. In his spare time he enjoys hiking and camping.
Rocina Lizarraga- Community Outreach Assistant
Angelica Bastida Cazares - Admin Assistant
Angelica Bastida Cazares is the Administrative Assistant at Olivewood Gardens. She has a Bachelor Degree in International Business from Universidad Iberoamericana of Tijuana, Mexico where she was born and raised. Angelica worked in Mexico for several years in the logistics and import-export industry before she moved to the US in 2009. Since then, she decided to change careers and became a certified Pilates instructor where she discovered a passion for helping people maintain a healthy lifestyle. Her business experience, her desire to help others and her enthusiasm for healthy cooking makes Angelica a perfect addition to the Olivewood team. When she is not in the Gardens, Angelica is spending time with her husband and two boys, teaching Pilates or spending time in the kitchen trying out new recipes for her family.
Adan Teposte - Gardener Support Staff
Adan is one of the Gardeners at Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center. He migrated from Mexico in 1980, and after working for many years in the manufacturing industry in Los Angeles, he moved to San Diego where he gained experience in gardening. Adan has seen the transformation of the Walton family home gardens into the extensive Gardens we have today, for he has been part of the working team for 11 years! He loves going to the beach in his free time.
Reyna Rodriguez - Garden Support StaffReyna is one of our Garden Support Staff here at Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center. She is born and raised in National City and participated in our first internship collaboration with Sweetwater High School (2016). She is currently attending San Diego Mesa College and planning on transferring. She helps out anywhere she can in the gardens and always has a friendly smile. Reyna enjoys adventuring and exploring San Diego with her friends or family in her free time.
Adam Guy - Garden Support Staff
Adam started volunteering at Olivewood in 2013 to obtain his community service hours for high school. During his time here at Olivewood, Adam learned all about gardening and working outside with all different kinds of tools. Eventually, when his requirements for graduation were met, Adam decided to continue volunteering at Olivewood and had developed a passion for working with nature and he obtained the 'Volunteer of the Year' award! Nowadays, Adam works at Olivewood helping other high school students complete their high school community service hours and supervising the garden. He is currently a part-time student working towards his Associates Degree in general education, and has also studied horticulture and nutrition in the past. Adam enjoys working at Olivewood because he loves becoming friends with all of our volunteers and working outdoors with nature while also making a difference in people's lives in our community. On his own time, Adam likes to do anything that is outdoors but enjoys gardening the most.