Erin Marteal, Executive Director
With 18 years of experience, Erin has worked with Cornell Garden-based Learning, developed permaculture education programs for children and schools at Durban Botanic Gardens in South Africa, and received a Master’s degree from Cornell University in Public Garden Leadership.
As recipient of the Cornell University Dreer Award, Erin spent six months researching permaculture in public garden education in Australia, New Zealand and Trinidad. In 2015 she received the Florence Hoard Award for Community Beautification and was published in The Public Garden Journal as a young leader of note in the field of public horticulture.
Under Erin's leadership, ICG received the American Public Garden Association Program Excellence Award in 2017. Erin currently serves as treasurer of Executive Exchange, (an association of Tompkins County non-profit executive directors); advisory council member of Cornell Botanic Gardens; steering committee member of the Biophilia: Ithaca Chapter; Finger Lakes ReUse as a board member; and writes a monthly column for Tompkins Weekly, "Into the Great Outdoors." Erin is inspired by permaculture, playwork and is dedicated to cultivating organizational sustainability, nourishing connections to food, environment, and joy. She believes all children should have the right to climb trees. Erin has been serving as ICG's Executive Director since 2011, and welcomes the chance to talk with you about your ideas and how ICG can become part of your life too!
Tori Chamberlin, Americorps VISTA Member
Tori is serving in the Americorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) program. She graduated from Ithaca College in 2017, with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and a minor in Communication Studies. Tori has a deep connection and love for the Ithaca community. Now four years after her introduction to the area, she is happy to return and have the opportunity to work with Ithaca Children’s Garden.
Tori Grew up in the woods of Western New York, where she fostered a deep relationship with the natural environment. This relationship gave her great gratitude for the opportunities she had as a kid to play in the trees and dig in the dirt. Tori now has a passion to help build strong communities that have access to learning in their local environments. She is serving the Ithaca Children’s garden by helping to build capacity that will increase the garden’s ability to serve disadvantaged youth and families.
Tyler Dudick, Communications Intern
firstname.lastname@example.orgTyler is currently enrolled at Ithaca College as a Communication Management and Design Major. He joined the Garden as a communications intern during his first semester at Ithaca College and is very gracious to be able to work for such a wonderful organization that provides fun and educational outdoor activities to the children and families of the Ithaca community. Tyler is a project manager for the Student’s Consulting for nonprofit organizations club at Ithaca College, and he enjoys the scenic Ithaca landscape surrounding the campus. He is very excited to explore all the opportunities that Ithaca College and the Ithaca Children's Garden have in store for him in the future.
Jean Gerow, Facilities Manager
Jean is a master gardener who brings a deep love of plants and experience working with plants as a long-time volunteer at the Cornell Plantations.
Jean's passion is wildflowers, and has loved scouting for them since childhood. She has been known to drag unsuspecting friends on hikes along the Finger Lakes Trail in search of a specific orchid or other plant of interest, stopping constantly to check out and identify anything blooming. An avid quilter, she takes inspiration from nature to create colorful pieces she shares with family and friends. And she LOVES parties!
Sheehan Gotsch, Communications Coordinator
Working as the Communications Coordinator at ICG, Sheehan hopes to share the purpose, passion, and play fostered by the Garden with the greater community.
She began her time in Ithaca by volunteering for local organic farms where she gained a greater appreciation for food systems and the importance of fostering sustainable local growth. Sheehan is currently studying Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell University. Her passion for the outdoors, as well as for health and well being, have been pillars of her life from a young age and she finds time to get outside by being a team member of Cornell Women’s Rowing, and by exploring Ithaca and the surrounding area, whenever she gets the chance.
Richard Lansdowne, Operations Manager
A recent addition to the staff, Richard's interest in the study of play drew him to attend of all of Ithaca Children's Garden's play symposiums. He holds degrees in both accounting and philosophy and has worked for mission driven organizations since moving to the Ithaca area in 2003. Before that he worked seasonally at garden centers while pursuing his studies. He grew up near the headwaters of Fall Creek and enjoys playing outside. With his partner Margo, he pursues adventures in edible landscaping and year round gardening.
Leigh MacDonald-Rizzo, Education Director
Leigh has been supporting plant and environmental education as a Cornell Cooperative Extension employee and part of the ICG team since 1999. Leigh has a wide range of interests but at the core of them all is an appreciation for the magic of childhood and wonder of the natural world.
After studying horticulture at Cornell, Leigh focused her master’s work on environmental education in public garden settings. Leigh believes wholeheartedly in the connection between environmental stewardship and meaningful time in nature during childhood. Her work at ICG allows a unique blend of fostering outdoor, child-led free play and hands-on, multidisciplinary exploration of the natural world. After 15 years of developing and leading education programs for Ithaca Children's Garden, Leigh feels ICG’s focus on permaculture and playwork lay the foundation for the next generation of environmental stewards.
In her years in service, Leigh has earned a reputation as a first rate educator. With 3 young boys of her own, she knows what kids like, and loves to deliver it through program innovation, design, and evaluation.
Mara NewRoots, Early Childhood Educator
Mara has worked with children at the Garden for 4 years, and has worked with children for 20 years in a variety of settings. She brings her deep experience as an educator, mother, naturalist, and human service worker to working with children at ICG as Assistant Director of Preschool Summer Camp and Lead Educator for the Garden's Playful Nature Explorers Preschool. She feels there is nothing more exciting than being outside exploring nature with children.
Julia Paltrineri, Communications Intern
email@example.comJulia is a student at Ithaca College, studying Integrated Marketing Communications. Though she hails from the Boston area, she was not prepared for the snowy season in Ithaca. Her passion for hiking and outdoor fun drives her love of nature and all adventures. Growing up going to summer camps and being enrolled in after school programs, Julia hopes that children get to create the same memories and experiences as she did. She found out about Ithaca Children's Garden through word of mouth from peers who also went to and go to Ithaca College. In or out of the classroom, Julia loves to learn, and experience being in a new place. When not at school or at ICG, Julia can be found playing pool with her friends at school, watching Netflix, and playing trivia. She also loves to talk about her cat, Lulu!
Lauren Salzman, Outreach Educator and TUF Coordinator
Lauren has over ten years of experience leading educational programming with non-profits, nature centers, museums and community organizations. She received a Master’s in Education from a unique program at Western Washington University in conjunction with the North Cascades Institute focusing on leadership and field-based, experiential learning. She has continued to work as an educator with increasing responsibilities in program design, assessment and organizational collaborations. She also loves all animals, walking in the woods, playing big games, sitting quietly by a fire, and being outside in the wind, rain, snow, heat and everything in between.
As an avid naturalist, Lauren has always loved plants and studying the natural world. In recent years, that has translated to working on organic farms, community gardens, and now her own gardens to pursue deeper connections with food systems. With her own roots growing deeply in Ithaca soil, Lauren is thrilled to be making meaningful and magical connections between local youth and the natural world.
Marina Vergara, Nonprofit Administration Intern
firstname.lastname@example.orgSome of Marina’s favorite childhood memories are of outdoor play, and through her role as the Non-Profit Administration Intern, she hopes to give others the opportunity to make the same memories. Studying Environmental and Sustainability Sciences at Cornell University has allowed her to continue to learn more about her passion for environmental justice issues, and working with Ithaca Children’s Garden has allowed her tot share her love for the environment with others. When she’s not in class or at the Garden, you can find her exploring Ithaca and its many outdoor trails, playing soccer with her team, or reading a good book.
ICG Board of Directors
Joyce Barney, Board of Directors
Joyce Barney has lived in Ithaca for the last 45 years. She has been a teacher and school administrator most of that time. From 1998- 2002, she was the Principal of Beverly Martin School. Next to her love of kids, her most significant passions are birds and gardening. She enjoys her 3 months on Sanibel Island where she and her husband work as docents at J.Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge. At Kendal at Ithaca she is very interested in the Gardening Committee and the work that she carries on there every Monday night from 5-7.
Harriet Becker, Cofounder, Board of Directors
Volunteering had always been a large part of Harriet’s life from helping out in her children’s elementary school to designing signs and scheduling classes in in the early days of the Sciencenter. Being a transplanted Californian, she only began enjoying the Finger Lakes region after enrolling in the local Master Gardeners’ course and learning about the wonderful world of gardening. A children’s garden was a great way to join together all her interests. She was fortunate to work along with two knowledgeable and inspirational friends, Monika Roth and Mary Alyce Kobler, to begin Ithaca Children’s Garden. She is delighted to see so many happy folks visiting and exploring the garden daily, and is excited to be involved in the latest ideas and developments. She can be found being guided around the garden by her granddaughter, who loves Gaia and all that the garden has to offer.
Kathleen Downes, Board of Directors
Kathleen grew up in Staten Island, New York and received a B.S. from Cornell University and her Masters in Education from Columbia University. She has been a special education teacher for 25 years primarily working with preschool age children and their families. Previously a curriculum chair for the Ithaca City School District, she currently teaches at Caroline Elementary School in an integrated pre kindergarten class. She has traveled as an educational ambassador studying special education to Russia, Egypt, Vietnam, and Cambodia. Kathleen has three grown children who all graduated from Ithaca schools and she developed her passion for gardening while tending gardens with her children. She continues to develop and tend gardens with the children she teaches at Caroline and her interests involve education and gardening accessibility. She has been an Ithaca Children's Garden board member and board secretary for over two years.
Dan Krall, a retired professor, is a long-time resident of Ithaca where he taught in the Cornell Department of Landscape Architecture. Growing up in central Illinois, Krall spent his summers working on farms and gardens throughout his small community. He received a history degree from Manchester University in Indiana, served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa, and later earned landscape architecture degrees from Purdue and Cornell University. During his years in Ithaca, Dan has served on the city’s Parks Commission, Shade Tree Commission and has invested many hours as a volunteer with the Children’s Garden.
Edwin Malone, Board of Directors
Ed is a native of Ithaca and lives near the Cayuga Medical Center with his wife Jeanne and his 2 children, Sydney and Isaac. He works at BorgWarner in the human resources department in a career that began 8 months after graduating high school, and has continued for over 25 years. He first became aware of ICG when he visited Gaia with his wife and children. It was amazing to see his children's joy and wonder as they climbed and explored in a natural environment. Ed wants others to have similar experiences. As a wheelchair user, he hopes to improve accessibility so that everyone can enjoy all the wonderful areas and activities ICG has to offer.</p.
Mark is an alum of Ithaca College who returned to the area in the Spring of 2015 with his wife Elizabeth (“Baz”)—a Cornell alumna—and two wonderful kids, Iona and Guthrie. Today they live on their homestead in Danby, raising small livestock and farm-fresh eggs and veggies, and Mark works as an audit director at Cornell.
Mark and his family started exploring the Garden in the mid-2000’s when visiting grandparents in town. During the process of moving to the Ithaca area and discovering family life around town, the Garden became a sanctuary of sorts, giving their children a wonderful calming place to explore and romp around, while learning in a safe outdoors environment. Gaia the magical turtle quickly became a beloved spot and the Anarchy Zone is an exciting recent addition. The Fire & Ice Festival is now an annual tradition! ICG remains one of the family’s favorite places to visit, relax, explore and dig in the dirt.
As a lifelong environmental advocate and general outdoor enthusiast who believes strongly in childhood education, enriching life experiences and supporting local community organizations, Mark’s personal interests have a natural alignment with the mission and programs of ICG.
Monika Roth, Cofounder
Monika Roth is the Agriculture & Horticulture Program Leader for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County. Her duties range from working with farmers on agriculture business development and marketing, working with towns on farmland use policy, to answering gardening questions and supporting volunteer efforts including Master Gardeners, Citizen Pruners and the Countywide Beautification Program. Along with Harriet Becker and Mary Alyce Kobler, she helped to found and has supported the Ithaca Children's Garden since it's inception in 1999. Her role on the board is as the CCETC staff liasion to ICG. Monika studied biology as an undergrad and has a Masters in Agricultural Economics from Cornell.
Adam Schaye, President, Board of Directors
Adam grew up in the Boston area, and came to Ithaca in the late 1990s, graduating from Cornell Law School in 1999. He is an immigration lawyer, and partner in the Ithaca law firm, Miller Mayer, LLP. Adam lives with his wife and three elementary and middle-school aged sons, who introduced him to the joy of the Ithaca Children’s Garden. While his children romped in the Anarchy Zone, Adam came to realize what treasure and resource the Garden is for adults and children of all backgrounds and interests.
Sonja Skelly, Vice President, Board of Directors
As a mom and West Hill resident, Sonja and her family enjoy the Garden almost every week. When not chasing her little girl through the mud of the Anarchy Zone or sitting in the birds' nest pretending to be a "mommy bird," Sonja is the Director of Education and Communications for Cornell Botanic Garden. She is passionate about connecting children to nature and studied the benefits of gardens to youth in Texas, Florida, and Mississippi before moving to Ithaca. She offers ICG expertise in public garden education, connecting children to nature, and public garden administration. She is thrilled to contribute to such a dynamic organization and looks forward to helping the Ithaca Children's Garden mean as much to all children and families as it does to hers.
Kartik Sribarra, Board of Directors
Kartik Sribarra has more than a decade of nonprofit experience, including two AmeriCorps assignments. Most recently, he spent six years at the national Rails-to-Trails Conservancy in Washington, D.C., where he directed efforts to build a groundswell of support from elected officials, leaders, and the general public. After moving to Ithaca in 2012, he transitioned to being a stay-at-home dad and now spends much of his time outside with his two kids--often at the Children’s Garden's Anarchy Zone. He earned his Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning from Portland State University and his undergraduate degree from the University of Rochester. Kartik and his family live at White Hawk Ecovillage in Danby, where he is an aspiring homesteader.