Staff and Board of Directors

Currently Seeking Board Members

Are you interested in giving back to the community by serving on the Board of Directors for The Garden Project of Southwest Colorado? We encourage you to apply!

The Garden Project's Board of Directors sets healthy term limits for membership cycles of 2-3 years. As a result, we are often searching for new members. Start dates are typically in April and September of each year, with applications due a month or two in advance.

We are looking for individuals who:

  • Represent the community of Southwest Colorado – and may have experience with fundraising, grant writing, gardening, agriculture, nutrition, business, policy, and/or community development

  • Can commit to one monthly board meeting a month plus additional time to help with The Garden Project’s events, fundraisers and committees. Time commitment varies throughout the year, but expect 4-10 hrs/month.

  • Have a passion for our mission: “to grow a healthier community through the support and development of school and community garden programs that promote health & wellness, environmental stewardship and a sustainable local food system."

  • Are interested in helping The Garden Project grow into a larger, more diverse, and even more successful organization!

Please complete the application form and send it along with your Resume and/or Cover Letter to Sandhya Tillotson.
If you would like to talk to a board member before applying, please call us! Nine Seven Zero-259-3123
Thank you for your interest!

Board Responsibilities


Current Staff

sandhya.jpgSandhya Tillotson
Executive Director

Originally from Santa Barbara, CA, Sandhya attended Colorado College and majored in Environmental Science. After moving to Durango in 2010, Sandhya has worked and volunteered for local non-profits, including Durango Nature Studies and 4CORE. Following her passions for gardening, local food, and environmental nonprofit work, she became the Executive Director of The Garden Project in 2013. Since then, Sandhya has given new vitality to the organization, increasing its visibility in the community, impact on participants and fundraising capabilities in a short time. In 2015 Sandhya graduated from the Community Resource Center’s Nonprofit Leadership Training Program. She is a big thinker who appreciates action, follow through and change. While not in the gardens or grant writing, Sandhya can be found on outdoor adventures with her husband, Joey Ernst, owner of Velorution Cycles.

mia1.jpgMia Carrasco-Songer
Organization Coordinator & Ohana Kuleana Garden Manager

Mia graduated from Warren Wilson College in her home state of North Carolina in 2011 with a degree in Sociology. She followed her passion for social and environmental justice here to Durango's community gardens. Mia also works for Homegrown Farm in Bayfield and spends her free time exploring this beautiful place on her mountain bike or paddling a raft. Mia has been with The Garden Project since January 2013.

brooke2.jpgBrooke Frazer
Manna Garden Coordinator

Brooke Frazer is excited to join her fellow gardeners and farmers at the Garden Project. Originally from Virginia and North Carolina, Brooke holds a masters degree in appropriate technology from Appalachian State University. She has a varied background in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and farming. Brooke started a successful SPIN inspired urban farm in Durango and is excited to be growing food downtown at Manna Soup Kitchen. Brooke enjoys playing roller derby, mountain biking, snowboarding, and remodeling her house when she isn't in the garden. Brooke volunteered for The Garden Project for several years before being hired on as staff in June 2014.

taylor.jpgTaylor Henzler
School Garden Program Coordinator

Taylor is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 2013 she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Art Education from Penn State University. She has taught youth in both museum and public school settings. Following her love of the outdoors, Taylor became a Colorado transplant and has gained a variety of experiences through guiding, teaching, and building communities. Taylor enjoys whitewater rafting, skiing, camping, pottery, and drawing.

AmeriCorps Members


Rachel Vetter
School Garden AmeriCorps member

Rachel is originally from Manhattan Beach, California. She graduated from Auburn University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Wellness in May 2016. Rachel enjoys immersing herself in new parts of the world and is happy to combine her love of service and nutrition with The Garden Project.




Nicole Putman
School Garden AmeriCorps member

Nicole graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham with degrees in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. Her love for the great outdoors led her to Durango where she discovered The Garden Project of Southwest Colorado. Nicole previously worked in agricultural education in her home state of Alabama. Nicole is excited about educating children through hands-on experiential learning in the garden. In her free time she enjoys adventuring with her husband and two dogs and exploring the beautiful town of Durango.

 Board of Directors

 eric.jpgEric Ryba

Eric grew up in Seattle, WA and attended college in Southern California earning a degree in engineering.  Since a young age Eric has been actively gardening, first as a child laborer pulling weeds and rocks from his parent’s garden followed by pulling weeds and rocks from his own gardens as an adult.  Eric moved to Durango in 2010 with his wife and has been busily converting large areas of his yard into berry patches, vegetable gardens and fruit trees.  As a Colorado Master Gardener, he now grows in excess of 40 different types of apples, cherries, peaches, plums and continues to increase the variety through yearly grafting.  In the rare occasion Eric isn’t in his gardens you may find him and his wife skiing or hiking with their two Labradors.

amber.jpgAmber Johnson
Vice President

Amber Johnson grew up in Durango, Colorado and received a Bachelor's degree at Fort Lewis College. She is an outdoor enthusiast and loves to explore the mountains of the Southwest, either on foot, horseback or by mountain bike. She is deeply inspired by the beauty of the South West and feels so grateful to be living in such a great area. She is a strong advocate for the health and well-being of the community and local economy. Growing up in ranching family that has been in the area since the 1940’s has given her a unique connection to the area and the people here. She is very interested in land conservation, ranching, sustainable agriculture, preserving as much open space as possible and creating wild life corridors while still accommodating the growing demand for development and infill.  She believes much of the beauty of the west lies in its wildness. Amber has been a Real Estate Broker at Coldwell Banker Heritage House Realtors in Durango since 2000.

nora.jpgNora Doyle Stafford

Nora has been an elementary teacher for 34 years. She has lived in the Durango area since 1981. Nora has been involved with the Needham Garden since its inception. Noraʼs goal is to inspire and motivate students to become responsible, respectful, and resourceful students who are stewards of the Earth. She believes that the Needham garden is the perfect place to incorporate science, language arts, math, health and social studies standards.

Amy_Arnold.jpgAmy Arnold

Amy grew up in western PA and went to culinary school after graduating from high school. She was a chef for approximately ten years before deciding to go back to school to obtain a BS in Accounting. She moved to Durango in 2010 and currently works for the City of Durango in the finance department. She is passionate about connecting people with healthy food and sharing knowledge and love of cooking.  When she isn't working she enjoys being outdoors running, hiking, or camping. 

 TaraFrazer.jpgTara Frazer
Originally from the midwest, Tara Frazer has called Durango home for almost a decade.  During this time she has been raising her three daughters and running a licensed preschool out of her home, which she is closing in August to pursue other teaching or nonprofit work.  Tara has enjoyed maintaining a backyard garden for several years and using it as a teaching tool in her preschool.  She earned a bachelor’s in biology at Oberlin College and a master's in science education at UT-Austin.  She has taught for over 15 years in many settings, including public schools.  Tara appreciates the opportunities the school gardens at Needham and Miller provide her kids.  Tara recently earned a certificate in Non-Profit Management at Fort Lewis College.  By volunteering with the Garden Project, she hopes to gain more experience with nonprofits while giving back to her community and promoting sustainability.

Clint_crop.jpgClint Kearns

Clint realized a 35-year dream when he moved to Durango two years ago. It was not chance, but choice that brought him here and he thinks of it as returning home to Colorado, since his family ran a boarding house in Denver in the 1880’s. Clint “grew” an interest in gardening as a child working in the garden with his grandmother, “My Grandma had not so much a green thumb as an entire green arm,—she could grow anything.” Clint  honed his skills through gardening classes at the Los Angeles County Arboretum in southern California and upon relocating here, became a Colorado Master Gardener. He has served on a variety of non-profit boards and has been a business owner working in electronic security for over 25 years. Clint came to the Garden Project because he feels strongly about educating our youth about living in sustainable and renewable ways and as gardening as a tool for learning science. He and his wife enjoy hiking, backpacking, camping, and of course, gardening.

Jennifer_crop.jpgJennifer Boyer

Jennifer was born and raised in Denver, Colorado and holds a degree in Anthropology from the University of Colorado, Boulder.  With a background in renewable energy and elementary education, she currently works for La Plata County.  She believes that every person deserves access to fresh, healthy food and is thrilled to be a part of the Garden Project.  In her free time, she enjoys exploring, hiking, kayaking, cooking, quilting, nordic skiing, volunteering, reading, camping, canning and knitting (in no particular order).

 Dave_Harris_sm.jpgDave Harris

Dave comes from a family of gardeners growing up in a small town in Central Illinois. He and his wife Michele moved to Durango from Boulder in 2012. Their 3 daughters are in the Front Range and NYC. Dave is a 30+ year veteran of the legal profession. He is a CO Master Gardener committed to the environment and sustainable practices. Their house near Purgatory is a net zero home meaning it produces more energy than it consumes. Dave was the horticulturist at Glacier Club but has transitioned to assisting with legal and human resources matters. 

Past Board Members

Darrin Parmenter

Eileen Dawson

Charlie Love

Krista Garand

Becky Turner

Kelle Bruno

Chelsea Farley

Janet Fogel

Shari Fitzgerald (Co-Founder)

Kate Lauth

Beth Saren