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."
Allison was born and raised in Las Vegas. A second-generation Nevadan, she is enamored by the beauty of the desert. After graduating from UNLV with a BA in Communications, Allison moved to Seattle, then Nashville, beginning her career in Human Resources. In 1997, she moved back to Seattle and worked for a pediatric neuropsychologist, an ad agency, and then a financial brokerage firm. After 25 years, she returned home to the beautiful desert, joining Green Our Planet in December of 2019.
Allison is thrilled to work with an organization determined to make the world a better place. The daughter of a kindergarten teacher, Allison saw how bringing the outdoors into the classroom (churning butter, raising chickens, making jam) inspired students and connected them to the food they ate. Allison believes the GoP STEM curriculum will give teachers and students the ability to learn in and from the garden, exciting them to change the world, too.
School Garden Program Manager—Landscape Designer
DangDuy graduated from UNLV in May 2017 with a Bachelor in Landscape Architecture. Though his goal is to one day become a fully licensed landscape architect of Nevada, he has grown to love and appreciate the community in which he has grown in through his architectural design projects in Las Vegas. This interest has led him to Green Our Planet, where he strives to combine his appreciation for the environment, passion for landscape architecture and love for the Las Vegas community to help create a positive and beautiful place for the generations to come.
Jeanne Marie Toscano
Senior School Garden Coordinator—Nutritionist, Master Gardener
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 led 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.
School Garden Coordinator—Design Specialist
Ami is currently a student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas working towards a B.F.A. in Graphic Design. She grew up camping and hiking where she understood the importance of preservation.
She is passionate about the conservation of our planet as well as helping others gain a love for the outdoors. In her free time Ami collects houseplants. She loves rare foliage plants that bring character to our living spaces.
School Garden Coordinator—Education Specialist
Gabriela was born and raised in Venezuela. She earned an associate degree in advertisement, and supports art as a language to express our thoughts and emotions. She has always enjoyed being surrounded by children and has been a preschool teacher for 18 years. She is passionate about letting the 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.
School Garden Coordinator—Nutrition Specialist
Matt Dallas is an Air Force veteran and UNLV graduate with a B.S. in Nutrition Sciences and a minor in Kinesiology. His passion for health and wellness led him to also become a Certified Personal Trainer. His goals at Green Our Planet include helping students and their families make healthier lifestyle choices and creating an everlasting contribution back to the planet. He enjoys hiking with his friends and family, running with his dog, and watching all the local sports Las Vegas has to offer.
School Garden Coordinator—Hydroponics/Horticulture Specialist
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. During his spare time Travis enjoys skateboarding, exploring the outdoors and going to concerts and stand-up comedy shows with his girlfriend, friends and family.
María José (MJ) Echeverría
School Garden Coordinator
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.
Brenda has been a resident of Las Vegas for 44 years and started in the architectural field before migrating to landscape design. She attended CSN's Horticulture Program for Landscape Design & Construction. Afterwards, she owned and operated a successful landscape management company for 18 years. Brenda has experience in landscape sales, design, installation and management. She also served as the Irrigation Specialist at the Springs Preserve for a number of years. With water being a finite, precious resource on our planet, Brenda says she "is excited to be a part of an organization that connects children and others to the Earth, teaches them to help manage our precious resources and uses water to benefit us nutritionally rather than ornamentally!"
Eddie Del Grosso
Eddie was born in Niagara Falls, NY and was raised K-12 in Las Vegas at many of the schools we have gardens at. He received a Bachelor's Degree in Plant Science from Cal Poly Pomona in 2018 and has been gardening and growing his own food for over 10 years. Eddie really found his passion for plants while pursuing a degree in Geological Engineering at UNR and decided to make the switch after 3 years in! Eddie has worked on farms and in greenhouses and has found a love for urban farming and regenerative agriculture and wants to incorporate these ideas into his schools. Eddie spends much of his free time climbing in Red Rock or other areas around the valley as well as tending to his own gardens!
Horticulturalist–Farmer, Master Gardener
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.
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.
Farmer, Master Gardener
Having lived her first years in sunny southern California with a garden in her front yard and backyard, Heather loved watering all the trees and grape vines, picking fruit from them, and making mud pies with her sister and mother. Reminiscent of the of the gardens she grew up with, Heather grew her own garden in the Sonoran and Mojave deserts. After having worked in the dental and legal fields, Heather took her dad’s advice and decided to finally do what she is most passionate about—gardening, sustainable living, and sharing her knowledge and experience with others.
Heather became a Master Gardener in 2019 through the program offered by the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Heather also studied business at the College of Southern Nevada and Nevada State College and is passionate about finding entrepreneurial solutions to environmental issues. She even worked with local landscapers and restaurants to save well over 600 gallons of compostable waste from ending up in the landfills, and instead, used as mulch, compost, and food for vermicomposting. Heather volunteers her time in various capacities, through teaching at her local church, UNCE, her local chapter, Alpha Xi Beta of Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society, and various other capacities. She is always interested in learning about anything related to sustainability, nature, horticulture, and agriculture. She loves sharing that knowledge with others.
As Farmer and Horticulturist at Green Our Planet, she loves seeing the students and teachers light up in appreciation and wonder as they smell the incredible aromas of herbs growing in their school garden, or when they learn about something they never knew that they never knew! She is a firm believer that gardens inspire intrigue which compels them to want to learn more!
Yolanda grew up in 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. Starting a composting program in her high school in 1998. Yolanda has a technical degree in Environmental Lab and a BA in Tourism Business and Marketing, and focused her career in Adventure and Eco-tourism businesses. She opened a surf school in a hotel in Baja for 5 years, and then a boutique hotel in 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 as well.
Farmer–Master Gardener, 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 over the last 3 years and most recently worked as a farmer at a specialty herb indoor vertical farm. Joseph has home-schooled 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 is working as a Horticulturist–Farmer and Hydroponics Expert.
Horticulturalist–Farmer, 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. 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.
Chef Program Manager
Lisa Cheplak is Green Our Planet's Chef Program Manager, Nutrition Chef 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 11-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. 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.
Chef Program and School Garden Coordinator—Nutrition Specialist
Alyssabeth graduated from California State University Chico in May 2018 with a B.S. in Nutrition and Food Science. While attending Chico State, she interned at the Child Development Lab where she educated children on the importance of nutrition. Through the Student Philanthropy Council, she helped raise money and spread awareness about food insecurity on campus. She hopes that with Green Our Planet and her past experiences, she can inspire children in the Las Vegas Valley to lead healthier
lifestyles and care for the environment.
Monica is an American-Canadian environmentalist. She began her career in 2011 in her hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana, teaching science at Sci-Port Discovery Center. Driven by an adventurous spirit, she moved to Calgary, Alberta in 2013, where she gained experience in annual plant production at Sunnyside Garden Centre; the organic food system at Community Natural Foods, and STEAM inquiry-based education at TELUS Spark Science Centre. Throughout her career, she volunteered in garden and nutrition programs at community centers, schools, and urban and rural farms. Monica completed a Permaculture Design Certificate at Verge Permaculture in 2016 and a Master of Arts in Environmental Education and Communication at Royal Roads University in 2019. She is thrilled to spend her days carrying out Green Our Planet's mission of conserving and protecting the environment through project-based STEM education.
Hydroponics Program Manager—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 has joined the Green Our Planet team to help bring the fun and 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.
Accounts, Garden Build & Office Manager
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.
Greg is an award-winning producer, videographer, and editor from Los Angeles, CA. He has produced and filmed behind-the-scenes documentaries for Metro Goldwyn Mayer Inc, Sony Pictures, Warner Brothers, as well as for Shout Factory and other production houses. 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, who is passionate about visual storytelling, was ready for the next phase in his career where he could tell real-life stories about the positive changes impacting people’s lives and the planet.
That journey led him to Green Our Planet in 2019. Greg 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.
Born and raised in Germany, Kathrin moved to Las Vegas in 2018. Before joining Green Our Planet, Kathrin provided respite care for physically disabled people as Marketing Executive for a nonprofit organization based in London, UK and worked as inventory manager for a high-tech corporation in Cologne, Germany. Throughout her life, Kathrin has been passionate about the environment, sustainability and nutrition. As a certified Pilates trainer and mother, Kathrin is mindful about the importance of a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet consistent with an educated understanding of the impact on our future generations. Kathrin is convinced that there is no better place to start making a change than by educating our children about food and nutrition at home, in school and within the community.
Mariana Bengochea Johnson
Community Engagement Manager
Mariana joined the Green Our Planet’s team a year ago as the Community Engagement Manager. In this role, her primary focus has been on further developing the school garden financial literacy program and building relationships with local financial institutions to support the Green Our Planet Garden Financial Literacy Program.
Mariana is also a Senior Vice President at Bank of George. Prior to joining Bank of George, she was a banking executive at Sun West Bank of Nevada and City National Bank. Mariana has over 40 years of local business banking experience.
Throughout her career, she has always been drawn to 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 STEAM education and financial literacy. She has also served on nonprofit boards of the Latin Chamber of Commerce and Helping Hands of Vegas Valley.
She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV).
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 bee advocate, certified Master Gardener, and fundraising professional, Lucy brings her life-long passion for the natural environment and over 30 years of experience in nonprofit management, fundraising and community engagement to Green Our Planet. She previously served as a member of the senior management teams with the UNLV Foundation, The Lincy Institute, The Smith Center and Nevada HAND, has served on numerous community boards, is a proud UNLV alumna, and native Las Vegas resident.
Lucy enjoys the science of gardening in the desert, travel adventures with best friends, collects more books than she will ever read, and considers a good sense of humor essential to one’s personal well-being.
Lucy finds great satisfaction in connecting people with programs that touch both the head and the heart. She believes, as does Green Our Planet, that a well-run school garden program can impact student curiosity and academic performance, enhance the culture of a school, and transform the greater community. Gardens are an investment worth making.
A native of Maine, Chelsea has always had a passion for conservation and education. Since a child, she has been an active member in her local Fish and Game Club as well as 4H. The love of the outdoors has been instilled in Chelsea since before she could walk, growing up hunting, fishing and gardening. This passion and love led her to attend Unity College in Maine where she graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in Conservation Law Enforcement with a concentration in Aquaculture. After graduating, Chelsea followed her love of Aquaculture and food production to Walt Disney World where she was an intern at the Living With The Land Pavilion, which provides food to the resort through hydroponics and aquaponics systems. After her internship, Chelsea found herself loving Florida and followed her animal care passion working for Gatorland, providing animal encounters and enrichment. In the fall of 2018, Chelsea followed her partner to Las Vegas for work and was ecstatic to find Green Our Planet, which seemed to be a perfect fit for her love of education and sustainability. Chelsea is extremely excited to be part of the Green Our Planet team and to face the unique challenges and diversity of farming in the desert. At Green Our Planet, she is working as a Horticulturist–Farmer and Hydroponics Expert.
Fundraising and Marketing Coordinator
Samantha graduated from Dixie State University in St. George, Utah with a B.S. in Professional and Technical Writing and a minor in Art. While in St. George, she developed a love for the unique landscapes of the Mojave Desert.
She is passionate about sustainability and helping others cultivate a connection with nature. In her free time, Samantha enjoys road tripping, hiking, and exploring the natural beauty around the Las Vegas Valley.
Garden Build Manager
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.
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.
Garden Build Assistant