Executive Director & Co-Founder
Kari Bersagel Braley is one of the co-founders of GROW. She has worked in education for 12 years as a special education teacher, elementary classroom teacher and a literacy teacher. She is a mother and wife who feels passionately about buying and eating locally grown food. She believes in the benefits of educating her own children and the children in the community about healthy living and working to ensure that all children have access to healthy food. In her free time Kari enjoys hiking in the bluffs with her family, practicing yoga, and eating delicious food around the table with good friends and family.
Communication & Outreach Coordinator
Bonnie brings skills from past experiences such as: marketing, event planning, volunteer organizing, and graphic design. She is passionate about enriching the lives of children through providing hands-on educational activities. As a leader and volunteer in her children’s school PTO and 4-H club Bonnie has been able to help provide enrichment events and travel experiences for children. It was through these roles that Bonnie became familiar with GROW. She is excited to be a part of an organization that is making a positive impact on the lives of children.
Garden Educator & Farm Experiences Director
Ana Skemp’s background in biology/ecology allows the farm program participants to experience learning about their food and where it comes from an in depth level. For example children will learn how plants turn sun into energy during photosynthesis. Ana has experience teaching in a school setting and has led cooking classes for youth. She is a farmer and the owner of Deep Roots Community Farm.
Sam is a nature lover who came to gardening through time working on an organic farm and a market garden. He has also worked at an organic orchard in his hometown. He lives in La Crescent with his wife Hanna and their dog Cheech. Sam loves to run, bicycle, listen to music, and learn about the natural world. He is super excited to be part of the GROW team and to help make the gardens and greenhouse awesome places to learn and be!
Amy grew up on a family farm where gardening and a love of the outdoors were a part of life from her earliest years. She went on to earn a Bachelors in Animal Science from Iowa State University. Over the past five years she has gained experience as a substitute teacher. She loves helping children grow through experiential learning and watching their eyes light up with new information. As a mother she will often be found in the family garden with her boys. Providing fresh veggies for the family and neighbors and helping others grow is a favorite family pastime.
Shelly has always loved gardening and getting her hands dirty. Gardening has been a learning experience for her as she continues to learn and grow along the way. She graduated with an education degree from UW-LaCrosse and from there, headed out west to Colorado where she taught second grade. She loved watching her students explore and always made it her goal to instill a love of learning in whatever comes their way. Moving back to the midwest with her husband, Chad and her two boys, Booker and Ethan, Shelly is excited to get back into teaching and Grow is a perfect fit for her. She believes that getting students excited about eating healthy while growing their own food is most important and so valuable for all children.
Garden Educator & Curriculum Director
Mary McKee is thrilled to be a new team member of GROW. She is excited to be part of a team with such an important mission and the ability to positively impact our community. Mary is an educator with 25+ years of experience as a special education teacher and most recently, an academic interventionist. After experiencing some health issues last year, she made the very difficult decision to leave her full time teaching position in order to best support her health. Mary LOVES nature whether it be hiking trails in national parks and the trails in our beautiful area, caring for her many flowers, soaking in sunsets, kayaking, camping with family or harvesting fruit and veggies from her garden. Mary and her husband have 3 grown daughters and a grandson who also enjoy the simple joys of nature. Mary is incredibly excited to share the joys and magic of nature with students as a garden educator with GROW.
LaKiah has a curiosity for the natural world and loves guiding youth in developing their own curiosity. She has over eight years of experience teaching with community groups, summer camps, and currently as a substitute teacher. LaKiah is a La Crosse native who graduated from UWL with a degree in Interpersonal Communication and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. She loves spending time in her own garden, backpacking, and continuously learning. She is excited to be a part of the GROW team!