Ciara Byrne is a documentary filmmaker and social impact entrepreneur. In 2013 Ciara and Kim MacQuarrie founded Green Our Planet and together with their team they helped create one of the largest and most comprehensive school garden and hydroponics programs in the United States. Currently, Green Our Planet is operating in 10 states and impacting over 140,000 students. In 2019 Ciara was selected from 5,000 applications along with 19 other nonprofit leaders to be a 2019 Obama Fellow. The Obama Foundation is supporting Ciara and the team at Green Our Planet to scale their program across the United States and beyond. In 2001, Ciara set up and ran a film production company, Lion Television, with offices in LA and New York. During that time, she managed over 60 employees and produced hundreds of films a year for PBS, The Discovery Channel, National Geographic, PBS, BBC, Fox, and E! Ciara uses her background in television to include educational films as a core part of the Green Our Planet offerings to schools.

Kim MacQuarrie is a writer and a four-time Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker and entrepreneur. In 2013 Kim co-founded Green Our Planet with Ciara Byrne and together with their team they helped create one of the largest and most comprehensive school garden and hydroponics programs in the United States. Kim uses his background in television to include educational films as a core part of the Green Our Planet offerings to schools.  He has an undergraduate degree in biology, a master’s in anthropology and lived in Peru for five years. During part of that time, he lived with a recently-contacted Amazonian tribe, the Yora. A native of Las Vegas who has lived, studied-abroad, and worked around the world, Kim’s most recent book is “Life and Death in the Andes: On the Trail of Bandits, Heroes, and Revolutionaries.”

A Las Vegas resident since 1999, Brittany DuPree holds two degrees from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) – a bachelor’s degree in Communications and Mass Media Studies and a graduate degree in Public Administration with a Non-Profit Management Certification. Brittany has worked within the Las Vegas Non-Profit sector for more than a decade,  is a graduate professor at UNLV and enjoys volunteering her time, sitting on community non-profit boards and committees. 

In her spare time Brittany enjoys working out, volunteering, going to concerts and spending time with her family.  Notably, Brittany is known to live by the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. quote “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

As the Chief Growth Officer for Green Our Planet, Brittany is excited to lead the organization’s growth to scale impact and ensure the next generation of STEM leaders are diverse in race, gender and equity.  She is passionate about her work and firmly believes we can break generational poverty by ensuring education equity and opportunity for all children. 

Laura Meyer has over fifteen years’ experience in the nonprofit and public sectors. Her professional expertise includes strategic growth and program scaling, impact and evaluation, and public-private partnerships for social change.  She received her Master’s in Anthropology, specializing in collective impact initiatives and community health. This background paved the way for a diverse career in community-based work, which fostered a deep commitment to nonprofit capacity building and sustainability.

Outside of her role with Green Our Planet, Laura is a consultant for local nonprofits, supporting capacity building in grants, operations, strategic partnerships and evaluation. She is a content developer and instructor at UNLV in the areas of funding strategy, grant writing and nonprofit development. She currently lives in downtown Las Vegas with her partner, his daughter, their two dogs. In her free time, she likes to grow her own food, spend time in the desert, make collage art and paper flowers, practice yoga, and drink lots of tea.

Brent is a career-long educator with roots in the Greater Philadelphia Metropolitan area. He
graduated from Temple University with a degree in Business Administration with a major in
Marketing. He went back to his hometown of Burlington Township, New Jersey and served his
community as a ELA teacher while achieving a Master’s in Education Administration conferred
by Gwynedd-Mercy University. With a burgeoning interest in community development, Brent
led an out-of-school-time enrichment program, with a strong focus on instilling a green-
conscience among the students and their families. Brent brings his experience as an educator
and evaluator to Green Our Planet to develop an evidence-based approach to program
outcomes. In his spare time, he enjoys exploring the great, natural wonders of the Delaware
Valley with his daughter.

Christy (Christine) Carlson is an adventurous soul with a passion for sustainability, apiculture, and the great outdoors. With a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, she has years of experience in teaching (in-person, virtual, and hybrid) 2nd and 3rd grade in both Las Vegas, NV and Plainfield, IN. Christy has meshed her passion for teaching and sustainability as the Senior Manager of School Garden Programming at Green Our Planet. Christy is deeply committed to fostering a love for sustainability and gardening in students across the globe through project-based STEM education.

Christy lives on a hobby farm in Bloomington, Indiana with her husband and daughter. When not spending time beekeeping and maintaining their hobby farm, her family enjoys outdoor rock climbing, windsurfing, waterskiing, and mountain biking. Christy and her family look forward to growing their apiary, orchard, and vegetable garden into a sustainable, Midwest sanctuary.

Gabriela-Prato School Garden Coordinator

Gabriela was born and raised in Venezuela. She earned an associate degree in advertising.  Gabriela believes that art is a language for people to express their thoughts and emotions. She has always enjoyed being surrounded by children and was a preschool teacher for 18 years. She is passionate about letting children explore and discover the world through their eyes and hands on learning. Gabriela believes that educating young children about their planet will make the difference in future generations. The most meaningful part of her life is her family, and they are her inspiration to continue on this extraordinary path.

Maria Jose (MJ) School Garden Coordinator and Design Specialist

Born and raised in Quito, Ecuador, MJ moved to Las Vegas in 2015. She received a BS in Landscape Architecture from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and joined the Green Our Planet’s School Garden Coordinator and Landscape Design teams. Throughout her undergraduate degree, she became increasingly interested in community engagement and public spaces. By creating new design solutions and incorporating environmental benefits that include wildlife habitat, sustainability, and urban gardening, she looks forward to enriching the Las Vegas community and surroundings one garden at a time. MJ enjoys traveling and sightseeing cities with her family and friends and practicing new languages.

Travis Kapetan School Garden Coordinator and Hydroponics Expert

Travis Kapetan grew up in McGill, Nevada and graduated from Colorado State University in 2017 with a B.S. in Horticulture/Horticultural Food Crops. Alongside his interests in science, education and improving efficiencies and yields in agricultural systems, Travis has experience in certified-organic crop production and large-scale hydroponic production. In his spare time, Travis enjoys skateboarding, exploring the outdoors and going to concerts and stand-up comedy shows with his girlfriend, friends and family.

Liliana was born and raised in Los Angeles County, CA. She attended California State University, Fullerton where she received a bachelor’s in history and a teaching credential. In 2018, she worked as the programs assistant at the Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum where she enjoyed teaching children local history, putting special events together, and working with volunteers. Liliana believes that teaching all students to become critical thinkers will help create a better future. She enjoys traveling and watching musicals.

Madelynn Sneed was raised in Campbellsville, KY. Growing up she began farming as a child and continued to build a love for gardening. She attended Blackburn College in Carlinville, IL where she received her Bachelors in Environmental Biology in 2021. During this time she developed a passion for sustainable food systems, native plants, and pollinators. She hopes to develop a community with our educators and provide the best support possible for our gardens. Madelynn believes that giving access to hands-on food education will encourage more children into the STEM field to create a more sustainable future.

Katie Zimmerman, originally from Madison, WI, is a graduate of Indiana University with a Bachelor of Science in ballet and an Outside Field in business. Katie spent seven years as an Artist with Nevada Ballet Theater where she performed alongside NBT and also in collaboration with Cirque du Soleil. Throughout her dancing career, Katie enjoyed teaching both ballet and math in her spare time. Long passionate about nutrition, Katie has become increasingly interested in the space where the health of people and health of the planet meet. Katie is thrilled to be joining Green Our Planet and begin working at the intersection of sustainability, nutrition and education. In her free time, Katie enjoys anything that gets her outside. She loves to hike and bike and is becoming an avid camper!

Kristy grew up on a horse and cattle ranch that was also a hay- and grain-producing farm in the Fall River Valley in the Shasta Cascade region of Northern California. It was here where Kristy found a deep appreciation for the outdoors. Kristy studied agriculture and horticulture in college and earned a degree in communications. She has worked in horticulture and engineering divisions for 15 years in Las Vegas and enjoys outdoor recreation, hiking with her dog, playing golf and spending time with family and friends. Kristy looks forward to contributing to the future of STEM education through outdoor gardens and aspires to instill a sense of responsibility and respect for the environment with children for the preservation and enjoyment of future generations.

Tom Bohannon Farmer and Master Gardener

Tom Bohannon is an avid horticulturalist, pursuing interests in the fields of permaculture and xericulture. Tom has been involved with the greater horticultural community in Las Vegas since 2014. Having grown up in the Las Vegas area, Tom has always felt at home surrounded by the beauty and serenity found within the desert. But a desire to explore other climates, community outreach, and a passion for work in a horticultural setting eventually drew him to Pittsburgh, PA in the mid 2000s, where he joined Landslide Community Farm, a not-for-profit focused on community empowerment through gardening, crop production, and food distribution. Tom uses his knowledge with Green Our Planet by growing a love of plants within our community and bringing those skills to students across the valley.

Yolanda Reyez Farmer Horticulturalist

Yolanda grew up on a farm in Ensenada Baja, Mexico, and with a parent in the exotic flowers business in Los Angeles, she was naturally drawn to plants, gardening, sustainability and an outdoor lifestyle. She started skateboarding and surfing at a young age and became a competitive surfer for all of her teens and twenties.

Yolanda became passionate about the environment and sustainability when she was very young. Yolanda has a technical degree in Environmental Lab and a BA in Tourism Business and Marketing. She opened a surf school in a hotel in Baja, and a boutique hotel on her family farm, where she also began to grow and sell her own vegetables. Yolanda has continued this passion of plants, growing and a sustainable lifestyle here in Las Vegas and has an urban farm in her backyard.

Originally from Michigan, Michelle grew up around nature and family gardens that filled her with curiosity. In 2006 she relocated with her parents to Las Vegas, NV. At the age of 19 is when a passion for horticulture sparked inside Michelle. Since that spark, she has worked in many retail garden centers evolving and growing her knowledge. Michelle’s goal in life is to keep expanding her knowledge of horticulture while spreading her passion to others. When she is not playing in the dirt, you can find Michelle with her dogs (doodles) and spending quality time with her husband and three children.

Diana has lived in Las Vegas for most of her life, but has spent the last nine years traveling the country falling in love with different places, cultures, ideas, and food. After graduating with a BA in Psychology, she worked with multiple AmeriCorps programs, like City Year, where she mentored 8th graders in Tulsa. But it was her passion for creating delicious, yet healthy dishes that inspired her to learn how to grow organic fruits and vegetables. After two seasons of farming in Maryland and Virginia, Diana returns to the desert to learn from and to inspire others about sustainable agriculture. She can be found reading too many books at one time, incorporating dates into most desserts, and dancing and singing in the garden.
Joe Zitello Farmer, Master Gardener and Hydroponics Expert

Joseph Zitello has lived in Las Vegas since he was 3 years old. He began building raised bed gardens for himself and others in the community in 2008. After graduating from UNLV in 2011, Joseph decided to further his horticultural education and became a Master Gardener in 2014. He has worked extensively with hydroponics as a farmer at a specialty herb indoor vertical farm. Joseph has homeschooled his own child and feels it is important to teach children where food comes from and to help them stay connected to their environment. At Green Our Planet, he works as a Horticulturist–Farmer and Hydroponics Expert.

Ashley grew up in Detroit, Michigan, where her connection with nature sprouted at a young age. Her love for the environment blossomed after watching documentaries on environmental injustices, which led to her getting a B.S degree in Environmental Science, specializing in environmental law. Her passion is rooted in urban sustainability and sharing with others the positive impact we can have in our everyday environment. She hopes to one day start her own farm program for inner city youth in support of healthy communities. When Ashley is not in the garden, she enjoys reading suspense books, singing, and meditating in nature.

Stephanie is originally from Pennsylvania and holds a BA from the University of Vermont. She spent 10 years in Europe running a vegan cooking school teaching students from all over the world that plant based food can be delicious as well as nutritious. Her culinary journeys have led her to explore the globe and she trained in Morocco, Thailand, Italy, Greece, Spain, India, Ireland, Israel and beyond. When she lived in New Zealand she volunteered with at-risk youth and this experience was her first taste of exposing youth to the wonders of cooking with freshly harvested food. Stephanie saw first hand the positive impact that a garden program could have on the eating habits, attendance in school, and improved grades of the students. Now as a farmer with Green Our Planet she is excited to continue teaching children about the wonders of fresh foods.  In her free time she enjoys traveling, restorative yin yoga, cooking spicy food and walking her rescue dog, Bruno Mars.

Chris Anderson Hydroponics Program Manager and Educator

Chris Anderson graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Community Health in 1989, and a bachelor’s in Elementary Education in 2001. After teaching for 18 years (5 in CCSD) Chris joined the Green Our Planet team to help bring the vast educational possibilities of gardening to more teachers and students in Las Vegas and beyond. She hopes to support and empower more educators to integrate gardening into their classrooms to connect more students with the natural world and with their food. Chris enjoys sports, the outdoors, travel and the entertainment of the Fabulous Las Vegas Strip, where she enjoys the lights, the excitement and the plants.

Michael was born and raised in Las Vegas. He spent the last 15 years as a land surveyor making maps and working on infrastructure projects in the valley and Southern California. His interest in sustainable food production began after witnessing firsthand the reality of modern agriculture practices and their impact on our environment and our health. Michael has since spent time working at local indoor vertical farm startups focusing on growing locally grown hydroponic produce for his community. Michael enjoys growing salad for his family and neighbors in his own hydroponic kitchen garden. He also enjoys going on adventures with his wife and two kids and tumbling cool rocks they find.

Jacob is a Filipino-American who has lived in Las Vegas since his family moved from California when he was 3 years old. Jacob has grown up around Northern Las Vegas where he developed a strong connection to the outdoors and the local desert which was always just a short walk away. Even in his home, nature was never far as he has spent most of his life caring for an ever-growing garden of plants and an ever-expanding family of tortoises. His family has had a strong influence on his interests, often going on camping trips and hikes, collecting information and learning about the natural world, and valuing the application and practicality of the sciences. In the spring of 2022, Jacob was drawn by his interests to intern at Green Our Planet where his value of and fascination with their work has only grown. That same season, he graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) with a bachelor’s degree in Public Health and then fully joined the Green Our Planet team soon after.

Lisa Cheplak is the Chef and Nutrition Program Manager and Nutrition Chef Educator for Green Our Planet, as well as a Certified Health and Nutrition Coach. Lisa received her certification at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and has had a long-time passion for health and wellness. She loves working with students and families to inspire them to create healthy meals using garden-grown produce, help them make simple and healthy lifestyle changes and encourage health-promoting ways that produce real and lasting results improving energy, balance, health and happiness. As a mother, she has learned that there is no better way to teach healthy eating habits than hands-on learning in the garden and kitchen. Originally from Ohio, Lisa has been a resident of Las Vegas for 28 years. Over the past several years, she has taught nutrition and corporate wellness workshops to various companies throughout the city and hundreds of nutrition and cooking classes to students and adults.

Jeanne Marie Toscano started her career with a bachelor’s in dietetics from the University of Wyoming. She worked in the nutrition field enjoying a myriad of experiences including running college food systems, senior living meal services, public school nutrition programs, weight management and consulting. Jeanne moved to Las Vegas in 1993 as a nutritionist and manager for the Nevada WIC Program for Sunrise Hospital. After almost 20 years in the WIC program, she noticed that children did not know where their food came from. Following this interest, she became a Master Gardener, Nevada Naturalist, Master Food Preserver and certified as an Herbalist. Jeanne loves working with local schools to help foster healthy eating through gardening.

Sierra Kuno grew up in Cheyenne, Wyoming. She moved to Las Vegas, Nevada in 2015 where she earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Nevada Las Vegas in Nutrition Sciences. She worked with many nutrition and community programs during her time as an undergraduate. She is now working her way to become a registered dietitian. Sierra wants to empower and inspire individuals by promoting the field of nutrition through continued education. She feels that every person has the opportunity to optimize their own health while enhancing personal confidence. She is excited to work with Green Our Planet as a nutrition educator.

Jessica was born and raised in Las Vegas, but her family is originally from El Salvador. Before coming to Green Our Planet, Jessica worked in the accounting department for a nightclub on the Las Vegas Strip and as a program assistant for a nonprofit that provided books to children. In recent years, she has developed a passion for sustainability which during the 2016-2017 school year brought her to volunteer at Green Our Planet. Now as a full member of the team, Jessica helps bring awareness to younger generations so that they can both gain a passion for the environment and also learn that growing your own food is not only exciting but can help preserve our Earth. Jessica loves exploring the world, hiking and anything to do with the ocean.

Andrea grew up in Los Angeles, CA but moved to Las Vegas, NV about a year ago and has not looked back! She moved with her fiancé and two black labs shortly after graduating. She graduated from CSUN in 2021 with a B.S. in Business Management. Andrea knew from a very young age that she wanted to make a difference in the world and now her career allows her to do just that. When she is not working to better the planet, you can find her either reading a book or hiking with her fiancé and pups.

Ana migrated to the desert in 2014 from Dracula’s home country Transylvania, Romania, and she is not afraid of garlic. She was raised to respect mother nature and to learn from it, taught at a young age to identify plants and trees by their leaves, texture, smell and in the summer vacations, she turned her grandparent’s garden into a playground using the plants, rocks and soil for cooking classes and fashion shows.

Suzanna lives in Hawai’i and has had a connection to the natural world since she was a child and a passionate drive to protect the planet since high school. An environmental science class opened her eyes to the impact human activity has on our planet, and, as a result of that class, she felt an obligation to do something about it including forming an organization to clean a waterway in her hometown, Honolulu, HI. In college, Suzanna studied environmental science and economics, and most recently worked for Greenpeace USA to fight plastic pollution and the climate crisis. Suzanna believes that the stronger the connection people have to nature, the more compelled they will feel to protect it. She is eager to vegetate the urban landscape one hydroponics system and one garden at a time with Green Our Planet!

Suzie was born and raised near Minneapolis, MN but spent her summers on a lake in northern MN where she fell in love with nature. After graduating from University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire with a BS in Mathematics, Suzie moved to Las Vegas in 2001 and taught geometry and algebra at a local high school. Suzie lives with her husband, two daughters, two yellow labs and 21-year-old tortoise, Sammy. She ran the school garden at her kids’ elementary school and is passionate about the environment, nutrition and teaching children to explore and to be curious.

Samantha West Grant Writer

A native of northern Utah’s mountains, Samantha West grew up surrounded by the wonders of the Western landscape. Her goal is to conserve our natural resources and help others cultivate a connection with nature through writing. When she’s not clacking away at the keyboard, Samantha enjoys crafting, road-tripping and exploring the beauty of the American Southwest.

Kevin Leadingham is an accomplished non-fiction producer, editor, and camera operator from Los Angeles, CA by way of Chicago, IL. His over 50+ TV and documentary film credits include projects made for Discovery Channel, A & E, ESPN, ABC, HGTV, Animal Planet and PBS to name a few. His passion for entertaining, educating, and inspiring others through video is what drew him to join the Green Our Planet family. He lives in Las Vegas with his beautiful wife Amie and his super pugs, Buddy and Xena.

Greg Carson Videographer and Editor

Greg is an award-winning producer, videographer, and editor from Los Angeles, CA. His career is expansive; Greg has produced over 300 bonus features for DVD and Blu-ray discs and interviewed a variety of talent, from directors, to A-list stars, as well as production professionals. Greg  is passionate about visual storytelling and enjoys filming the teachers, students, chefs, and urban gardeners and translating their passion and love for what they do to film. When he’s not busy filming and editing, Greg enjoys playing guitar and bass, and has played with a variety of bands in both the LA and Las Vegas music scene. He lives in Las Vegas with his wife and his two Boston Terriers.

Marcus Villagran Videographer and Editor

Marcus Villagran is a Cambodian-Mexican American videographer and documentarian from Las Vegas, NV, with 3 years of experience shooting daily news and documentaries. These days, he shoots content for non-profit organizations he believes in like Green Our Planet! His ultimate goal? To bring light to meaningful stories in an honest and engaging way. And to learn and grow as much as possible to achieve that goal.

Joshua Bonzo is a native to the Philippines but grew up in Sacramento, California. He studied film history at American River College and graduated with an Associates in Arts & film certificate. While attending, he worked on campus as a peer mentor where he guided incoming and/or current students with their educational journey. Besides having a regular 9-5 like a lot of students, Bonzo was booking various side gigs as a videographer creating a diverse array of work. Bonzo has a lot of hobbies but one that is ingrained into his soul is skateboarding, which started his interest in filmmaking. Bonzo is thrilled to start a new journey with GoP because he enjoys playing an essential role in creating a positive difference for future generations.

Geoff attended Harrisburg University of Science and Technology where he received his Bachelor of Science with a concentration in Nanobiotechnology. From there he moved to Honolulu, HI where he attended Hawai’i Pacific University and received his Master’s of Education with a concentration in secondary education. He began teaching in Honolulu at a brick and mortar school before moving to Rhode Island while continuing to teach for an online high school. Geoff likes to try many different hobbies but some of his favorites are hiking with his two dogs, maintaining his native New England plant gardens, and collecting retro video games and accessories. Geoff is excited to be a part of the Green Our Planet team where he can share his passion for gardening through hydroponics and his expertise in high school science curriculum development.