Chicago Botanic Garden


Green Youth Farm

GYF Staff and Contact Information

PHOTO: Angela Mason

Angela Mason
Director, Community Gardening and Green Youth Farm

Phone: (847) 835-8254

Angela Mason, director of community gardening, has been instrumental in the success of the Green Youth Farm program since its inception in the spring of 2003. In her more than five years at the Chicago Botanic Garden, she has nurtured the program's growth from one farm and 13 students to more than 45 students at three sites, and she also helped found the Garden's Windy City Harvest urban agriculture training program. Angela graduated from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL, with a B.S. in plant and soil science, and an M.S. in plant, soil, and general agriculture.

PHOTO: Eliza Fournier

Eliza Fournier
Manager, Community Gardening

Phone: (847) 835-8352

Eliza Fournier, manager of school and community gardening, has served in the school and community gardening department at the Chicago Botanic Garden for eight years. In that time, she has helped more than 200 communities and schools plan and implement gardens in their neighborhoods. She currently manages the Green Youth Farm program, teaching teenagers how to grow organic produce on three urban farms. Eliza earned her bachelor's degree in environmental studies from Lake Forest College in Lake Forest, IL, and her master's degree in public affairs from Indiana University, where she concentrated in urban management. Lately, she has been seen presenting a variety of gardening topics during regular appearances on Chicago Tonight.

PHOTO: Laura Erickson

Market Coordinator

Phone: (847) 835-6936

Laura Erickson serves as the market coordinator for Green Youth Farm. She oversees the harvest and distribution of sustainably grown produce at each of the three Green Youth Farm sites. She also works with Cook and Lake County Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and Community and Economic Development Association (CEDA) offices to sell fresh produce directly to WIC families as well as provide a public-speaking opportunity for Green Youth Farm students.

Before Laura arrived at the Chicago Botanic Garden, she apprenticed on organic farms in California and Georgia. She also served as an assistant project manager at the Center for Transportation and the Environment, a nonprofit organization in Atlanta, GA. Laura earned a bachelor's degree in business management from Bradley University.

PHOTO: Ali Schneiderman

Garden Educator, Jr. GYF at Reavis Elementary

Ali Schneiderman is thrilled to be a part of the Green Youth Farm program at the Jr. GYF site! After studying environmental studies at Oberlin College she worked in various environmental  and garden education capacities including with nature preserves, after-school programs, and job readiness programming.  She is also pursuing a master's degree in elementary education at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC).  She loves working with young people and engaging their curiosity for watching food grow, while continuing to make healthy food more accessible. 

PHOTO: Kevin Erickson

Coordinator, Washington Park GYF

Kevin Erickson has been with the Chicago Botanic Garden for five years, serving as a grower in the Green Youth Farm program and farm manager for Windy City Harvest prior to his current position of coordinator at the Washington Park/Dyett High School site.  He began his career in agriculture by working as an apprentice on organic farms in Georgia and California, where he learned specific sustainable growing methods and livestock practices. He enjoys helping teens identify plants and weeds, interacting with farmstand customers, and coming up with farm jokes. 

PHOTO: Carson Poole

Coordinator, North Lawndale GYF

Carson Poole started his work with Green Youth Farm as a grower in North Lawndale in 2012. He grew up on a family farm in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York and has a background in sustainable agriculture. He has worked on farms in the United States and spent a season working on a bio-dynamic farm in France. Carson earned a B.S. in communication from Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Science in 2009.

PHOTO: Megan Baumann

Coordinator, North Chicago/Waukegan GYF

Megan Baumann graduated with a liberal arts degree from Loyola and worked in human rights law for a few years. After volunteering with farmers in southern France, Argentina, and Chicago, Megan decided to pursue a career in growing, completing the Chicago Botanic Garden's Windy City Harvest program in 2012. She loves cooking, dancing, camping, and learning languages. Megan looks forward to seeing students comfortable with soil-covered hands, gleeful with a colorful harvest following weeks of field work.