Founder, Co-Executive Director
Ciara Byrne is a documentary filmmaker and entrepreneur who 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! A native of Dublin, Ireland, Ciara has traveled the world and decided it's her mission to leave a positive impact on the planet.
Founder, Co-Executive Director
Kim MacQuarrie is a writer and a four-time Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker. 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."
Originally from the D.C. area, Sarah attended Indiana University for her undergrad and received her MS in Environmental Policy and Management from University of Denver. She has always had a love for the outdoors, and is fascinated by the dynamics between the environment, people, and communities. Fueled by an interest in industry environmentalism, Sarah wrote her Master’s thesis on water and energy sustainability in the beer brewing industry. She has lived in five states and the Czech Republic. Sarah loves hiking, traveling, hockey, and trying new food. She lives in Las Vegas with her fiancée Max and their two guinea pigs, Floyd and Crackers.
Landscape Designer - Hydroponics Program Coordinator
Taylor Quiram graduated from UNLV in December 2013 with a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture. Originally from Central California, he grew up surrounded by agriculture, but it wasn't until studying landscape in the desert that the importance of food production became a priority to him. After graduating, he spent 4 months as an intern at an aquaponic's farm in Honokaa, Hawaii (Friendly Aquaponics). There he learned as much as possible about how the systems operate and how to scale systems for personal or commercial food production. Working as a School Garden Coordinator is an exciting step in his personal mission of better connecting communities to nature and increasing food sovereignty.
Education Specialist--School Garden Coordinator
Christine "Christy" Travis graduated from Indiana University in 2016 with a degree in elementary education. After gaining teaching experience in the Clark County School District, she is now following her passion for horticulture, sustainability, and the great outdoors at Green Our Planet. As an outdoor enthusiast, she spends most of her weekends rock climbing at Red Rock Canyon and the surrounding areas. Christy is dedicated to fostering a love for gardening and plants in the students of Las Vegas.
Landscape Designer--School Garden Coordinator
Graduating from UNLV in May of 2017 with a B.A. in Landscape Architecture, DangDuy has grown up in Las Vegas with a strong association between family and the beauty of nature. Through this relationship, he feels a sense of happiness and enthusiasm whenever he is enjoying the outdoors. DangDuy strives to share his vision and passion with the Las Vegas community through his work. He believes that working at Green Our Planet brings him a step closer to his mission of enabling people to share joy through experiencing beauty and art, found in our environment. In addition, his personal goal is to develop great skills and achievements while having fun. He embarks on this journey with the Green Our Planet Team, schools, students and community to accomplish this goal.
Public Health Specialist--School Garden Coordinator
Megan Shannon is a Las Vegas native. She graduated from Silverado High School in 2012. After attending UNLV for a year, she moved to Mt. Pleasant, MI to attend Central Michigan University where she earned her Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology in May 2016. From her experiences studying abroad, she decided to move to Grenada to attend St. George’s University for her Masters in Public Health. Megan completed her internship with Green Our Planet earning her MPH in Environmental and Occupational Health in December 2017. Megan is very excited to be part of the coordinator team for Green Our Planet. Growing up in Las Vegas, Megan spent much of her time outdoors whether it was fishing at Lake Mead, camping at Mount Charleston, or hiking at Red Rock! Spending all this time outdoors gave her an appreciation for the environment which she wants to pass on to the future generations.
Environmentalist--School Garden Coordinator
Taylor is originally from West Des Moines Iowa, and graduated from Iowa State University holding a dual degree in Global Resource Systems and Environmental Studies, with her main focus in Sustainability. While attending college, Taylor completed an internship at the Budongo Conservation Field Station in rural Uganda where she worked on community development projects and chimpanzee tracking research. For the past year, Taylor has worked for Green Meadows Outdoor School in the Sierra National Forest, where she taught 6th grade students environmental science courses. Taylor has a love for the outdoors, whether that's rock climbing, snowboarding, surfing or gardening, and she is excited to help others discover their passion for the outdoors. She has seen first-hand how children retain more information when learning in an outside environment, and is looking forward to working at Green Our Planet as it matches many of her personal goals.
Emily has extensive horticulture experience and knowledgeable about hydroponics. She planted her first seed in her childhood vegetable plot. Emily's enjoyment of plants and outdoors led her to Oregon State University for a degree in Natural Resources. She started her career at USGS, researching plant and soil relationships, often using hydroponic systems for experiments. After almost a decade, she moved to a more commercial setting at the College of S. Nevada greenhouses helping with contract grow outs for USFWS and greenhouse/irrigation maintenance. Meanwhile, she's turned her house into a ¼ acre urban farm, which she uses as an educational demonstration of what can be grown in her local community. Emily believes that it is important for people to reconnect with nature and their food system and that putting gardens in schools is one of the best things we can do to help the future of the planet and our society.
Jeanne Marie Toscano
Nutritionist-Master Gardener-School Garden Coordinator
Jeanne Marie Toscano started her career with a Bachelor of Science degree in dietetics from the University of Wyoming. She worked in the nutrition field enjoying a myriad of experiences including college feeding systems, senior living meal services, public school nutrition programs (breakfast, lunch, after-school), weight management, and consulting. Jeanne moved to Las Vegas in 1993 as a nutritionist and manager for the Nevada WIC (Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infant, and Children) Program for Sunrise Hospital. After almost 20 years in the WIC program, she noticed that children did not know where their food came from (other than the grocery store), which lead to establishing a Kids Club class introducing the farm to children. Following this interest, she became a Master Gardener (2007), Nevada Naturalist (2010), Master Food Preserver (2011), and certified as an Herbalist (2012). Jeanne continues to participate in the community, giving talks to groups such as the Garden Clubs, Master Gardeners, Nevada Naturalists, parent groups, scouts and churches. Jeanne joins Green Our Planet staff and is looking forward to working with local schools creating gardens and helping to foster healthy eating.
Nicole is a proud native of the Las Vegas Valley. She graduated from the College of Southern Nevada in 2015 with a degree in Horticulture and has held Master Gardener certification from 2011-2016. Prior to getting her degree, Nicole worked in construction management. In 2008, she took a couple of years to build and care for her family. During that process, she discovered her passion for plants and the environment. She then enrolled in the Horticulture program at CSN. Nicole looks forward to turning her passion for plants into enriching the lives of the Valley's children through outdoor education.
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 2000’s, where he joined Landslide Community Farm, a not-for-profit focused on community empowerment through gardening, crop production, and food distribution. During and after his years with Landslide, Tom also explored and expanded his musical talents, growing his skills with ukulele, banjo, guitar, bass, and sometimes his voice until late 2013, when he felt the call of nature to use his green thumb once again, at which point he returned to Las Vegas and quickly found himself joining the Master Gardeners. He subsequently joined the team at Moon-Sun Cactus and Koi until summer 2017, inspiring him to get involved with the Cactus and Succulent Society of Southern Nevada (CSSSN). Tom has since been employing his mixture of xeric and herbaceous horticulture mixed with a permaculture mindset here in the Las Vegas valley, and is excited to use that knowledge to forward a greater cause with Green Our Planet by helping to expand and grow a love of plants within our community, and bringing those skills to school gardens across the valley.
Originally from South Florida, Rosalie grew up with a backyard citrus orchard which instilled in her a passion for growing food. She continued pursuing gardening as a hobby while working as a paralegal for almost fifteen years. Rosalie became interested in farming for self-sustainability after reading The Good Life, chronicling Helen and Scott Nearing's homestead. In late 2015, Rosalie and her husband unexpectedly relocated to Las Vegas. Their house hunt was centered around one primary need: a large backyard. She spent a year converting her yard into an urban farm and adjusting to the unique challenges of gardening in the desert. Rosalie is very excited to be a part of Green Our Planet and to share her enthusiasm for gardening with future generations.
Rick is a 17 year resident of Las Vegas and was born in southern California. A parent in the nursery trade and time on the family farm in Michigan grew his interest in gardening and sustainability, leading to a career in culinary arts. A Master Gardner since 2015, Rick in his spare time also runs the gardens at a local aquaponics farm using regenerative techniques to feed animals, plants and people.
Landscape Designer-Garden Build Director
Originally from the Chicago area, Steve Black attended Georgia Institute of Technology. He has an Associates Degree in engineering and has designed and installed landscapes and gardens in Illinois, Georgia, Florida and Nevada. He has also supervised the construction of bridges, tunnels, highways, high-rises and the site development of retail and housing projects. One of his more interesting projects was the construction of the tiger and kangaroo exhibits at the West Palm Beach Zoo. Steve fully believes in the ability of all types of landscaping and gardening to improve the quality of life in our schools, homes, and communities.
Accounts, Garden Build & Office Coordinator
Jessica was born and raised in Las Vegas but her family originates from El Salvador. Before coming to Green our Planet, Jessica worked in the accounting department for a nightclub on the Las Vegas Strip as well as a Program Assistant for another local non profit that focused on providing 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 hopes to help 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.
Chef Program Coordinator
Lisa Cheplak is Green Our Planet's Chef Program Coordinator and Certified Health and Nutrition Coach. She is excited to be a part of this organization as it is a strong passion of hers to educate children on healthier eating habits. 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 kids and parents to help them make lifestyle changes and health-promoting ways that produce real and lasting results improving energy, balance, health and happiness. As a mother of a 9-year old son, she has learned that there is no better way to teach healthy eating habits than hands on learning in the garden and kitchen and has seen first-hand the positive influence it has had on him. Lisa is a member of the PTO at Ethel W. Staton Elementary where she helped build a garden and implement a parent farmer garden program. Originally from Ohio, Lisa has been a resident of Las Vegas for 25 years. Over the past several years she has taught nutrition and corporate wellness workshops and many cooking classes to kids and adults. Lisa loves teaching simple ways for kids to prepare and love fruits and vegetables that they helped grow in their school garden.
Mariana Bengochea Johnson
Community Engagement Manager
Prior to joining Green our Planet, Mariana was a banking executive at Sun West Bank of Nevada and City National Bank. She has over 35 years of business banking experience in the for-profit world. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV). During her banking career, Mariana was heavily involved in community relations work and was often the key liaison between the bank and local nonprofit charities. This included coordinating in-house employee volunteer and non-profit donation programs focused on benefiting children, with special emphasis on supporting education and literacy. She has also served on nonprofit boards of the Latin Chamber of Commerce and Helping Hands of Vegas Valley. Mariana was born in Miami, Florida and has been a resident of Southern Nevada for more than 50 years. She and her husband, Bob, have been married over thirty years. They take great pride in their two adult children, Lindsey and Bobby, who also work and reside in Southern Nevada. In their spare time, the family enjoys cabin life in Southern Utah.
A two-time graduate from The Ohio State University, Julia came to Las Vegas in 1990 to teach in the Clark County School District. She has taught 1st, 3rd, and 5th grades, but spent the majority of her 24 years there as an art specialist. After retiring in 2014, she pursued various interests, including art, drumming, and completing the Master Gardening training course through UNCE/UNR. Julia shares her “urban homestead” with her husband, two cats, two dogs, three chickens, a goldfish, and a white dove that magically appeared in the front yard on Valentines Day and decided to stay.
Sara Carmichael relocated to Las Vegas 6 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri. Her exploration of the natural beauty of Southern Nevada sparked a bigger interest in her to help protect and raise awareness for our amazing planet. Sara received her B.A. in Audio Engineering from Webster University. After college, she worked in production and event coordination for CBS Radio and ESPN 3D as well as planning and managing large conventions. Sara is excited to have a role that will give her more of a purpose in serving her community and help grow healthier humans. In her free time, she likes to hike, snowboard, kayak attend concerts and Vegas Golden Knights games.
John is a lifelong outdoor enthusiast committed to using his keen eye for detail to deliver uncompromising high standards on any project that he is involved with. Originally from Maryland, John has over 20 years of experience in a wide variety of roles within the green industry including wholesale nursery production, landscape construction, and project management. He is a Certified Professional Horticulturist, SNWA Smart Water Contractor, and has a passion for witnessing the connection with nature that can be created with functional outdoor spaces. Upon relocating to Nevada in 2014, John has been the operations manager for a prominent Las Vegas residential landscape design/build company. He looks forward to the opportunity to use his field experience to help realize the vision of Green Our Planet. John believes that with dedication, integrity, and hard work, any goal is achievable.
Dustin hails from the windy city of Chicago where he spent his childhood helping out his family in their landscaping business. Dustin took up landscaping as a profession a little over 5 years ago. He moved to the warmer climate of Las Vegas two years ago when an attractive job opportunity came up for him. He is passionate about building school gardens as he has a six year old daughter and he knows how important it is to teach students how to eat healthy and also he knows the gardens a great way to teach students science. Also, he knows that gardening can become an important hobby to some students just like it has been for him.
Born and raised in eastern Pennsylvania, James is a long time landscaper and health care enthusiast. After studying at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and receiving a degree in Health Management Systems, James became fascinated with the relationship between plants and health. His understanding of plants from his experience in landscaping and his education in health care led to an interest in Permaculture systems for growing food and medicinal plants in a sustainable, self sufficient way. Through his work with Green Our Planet, James hopes to spread the message of the abundance in nature, the healing power of plants and a holistic approach to health.
Marcus Villagran is an independent multimedia journalist from Las Vegas. His care for education in his community drew him to Green Our Planet as a volunteer. He has interned for several award-winning publications such as Newsday in New York and Citylife Chiang Mai in Thailand. He has a B.A. in sociology and international affairs from the University of Nevada, Reno. With a camera in hand, he hopes to capture the organization's most meaningful moments in a creative way. Marcus is always on the hunt for a good story and frequently works on independent journalism projects in his spare time. When he's not shooting or editing, you can find him along side his beloved dog, Roger.