Current Staff


Andrew Shea

Director & Produce Ambassador

After scouring the nether regions of our planet and beyond in search of Utopian habitation, Andrew has returned to McDowell. Most recently working as a goodwill ambassador of the island of Hispaniola, his diverse career path has led him to the understanding that the heart of nurturing change lies in the grumbling belly of us all. With the benefit of the history behind us, the land and its inhabitants, and a future that is yet to be determined, he hopes to create a vision of the way things ought to be, right here. His door is always unlocked, keys in the ignition.

Why are you passionate about farm education? The farm is the place where our connections to the land is most readily apparent. When we take time to observe and nurture the relationships we create here, we find ourselves happier, healthier, and at a greater understanding of what needs to be done for one another and our planet. If you plant, you grow.


James Walawender

Farm Manager

James joined the McDowell Crew this year, and jumped right into the world of everything animals and plants. He has developed his skills as an organic farmer throughout the US, and brings with him a passion for guiding adults to do better. And, he loves collecting bugs, especially aquatic bugs.


Annaliese Danckers

Program Coordinator

As the new coordinator here, Annaliese is embarking on her fourth season at McDowell Farm School. With a background in environmental sociology, lots of teaching experience, and her past seasons at the farm, she is looking forward to her new and exciting position with the farm! She is passionate about sustainability from the local to international level and loves the connections students make between food grown at the farm and how food interacts with their daily lives.


Aubrey Gallegos

Livestock Assistant & Instructor

I couldn't tell you the exact moment I knew I was a farmer, but I can tell you that it's not the good days that have convinced me. It's the cold, wet, dirty, exhausting, challenging days, when I still find myself thinking, "I love what I do!" There was one day when I was preparing for an Open Farm Day after having been up until 4am with our ewes and newborn lambs the night before. Despite the long night, I couldn't wait to go out and talk with people about our farm. I love the work and lifestyle of farming, but even more I love its unique potential to connect us with where our food comes from, to show us how closed-systems work, help us see the cycles in everything, and to illuminate our role as conscious consumers and stewards of our environment.


Leah Twillman

Garden Assistant & Instructor

I had not a clue what I wanted to do after I graduated college, so I decided to travel Europe on the cheap. I volunteered on farms in England and France, and while cheap travel was my main objective, I ended up falling hard for farm life. I loved getting my hands in the dirt and being sore at the end of long days; I loved knowing the story of the food on my plate and the land it came from; I loved meeting and learning from others who ingrained their passion for food in me. As an instructor at MFS I hope to share that love and appreciation - for food, for the land it comes from - with our visitors, and let them know growing is as enjoyable and simple as they want it to be.


Gabriel Burford


After spending the last few years working in the production side of agriculture, this is Gabe's first season at the farm school. He hails from the Northeast but has roots in East Texas. He feels that small farms are an ideal place to mend our cultural relationship with the land and is glad to be a part of this work!


Kate Yeater


Kate Yeater grew up making inedible chalk Kool-Aid, riding bikes, and playing pinecone factory on her family’s farm in rural Ohio. In college she discovered a passion for sustainability, conservation, and community capacity-building after working with an indigenous community in the Brazilian Amazon and researching tropical deforestation. After finishing her anthropology degree, she started post-grad life in the mountains of central Idaho. Kate is excited to continue working outdoors and learning with and from the students and staff at McDowell Farm School! Once the spring season concludes, she will begin her 2-year Peace Corps service as a natural resource management volunteer in Malawi, southeastern Africa.


Paige Arrington


Paige Arrington attended Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, AL, where she earned a BA in English Language Arts and Theatre in 2007 and an MA in English Literature in 2009. After graduating with her Master’s degree, Paige began teaching English literature and composition classes at Jacksonville State until 2011, when she relocated to Alabama’s Lake Martin area. While in the Lake Martin area, Paige taught English composition classes at the Alexander City location of Central Alabama Community College. After her last teaching assignment Paige started a business in 2014, named Art in Equality, where she creates personalized crafts. In 2017, Paige married her best friend, Jeff Lee. They have a home in Equality, AL, where they live with their cat-child, Jimi Carter (no relation to the former president).


Carol Ann Head


Carol Ann has been working with food in various roles since she was 15. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, she grew up in Tennessee and since then has had the opportunity to travel and work in different cities teaching about food and business operations from a the point-of-view of a restaurant opener. She is excited to return to Camp McDowell - where she has spent many summers - to both teach and learn about farming and food from a completely different perspective.


Reed Whetstone


Reed grew up in nearby Birmingham, Alabama and joined the Camp McDowell community at a young age, attending summer camp on Clear Creek. Camp McDowell has nurtured his passion for the outdoors, community, and sustainability over the course of his growth to adulthood. Along with his inquisitive and playful nature, Reed has continued to apply those values towards teaching the next generation of bright young minds.