Staff and Volunteers
MCA’s workload is tackled by two staff members and an outreach coordinator, a talented board of directors and skilled and dedicated volunteers. Our Board and volunteers give generously of their expertise and time. Working together as a team, MCA has been able to take on the many challenges that face the Agricultural Reserve and at the same time work to promote it through education and legislative initiative. MCA is also registered to provide student service learning hours to middle and high school students. Contact us to find out more!
Caroline, who has the great fortune to live with her family within the Reserve in historic Sugarland Forest, has worked on environmental and agricultural issues for much of her professional career. Her first exposure to environmental litigation came while employed at Covington and Burling. She then worked with a talented group of lawyers and advocates at National Wildlife Federation on a wide range of cases and issues including: Spotted Owl, Key Deer, Exxon oil spill, food policy, forest preservation and, water resources. Yet her passion has always been local issues including protection of the Ag Reserve’s natural resources and working lands. Caroline comes from a long line of farmers and ranchers, from Pennsylvania, Virginia and Idaho. Growing Legacy, Caroline’s second film project, aims to both educate and inspire the many, the diverse- those who through the simple act of eating, as Wendell Berry wisely notes, practice agriculture.
Senior Conservation Associate
Kristina grew up in Montgomery County (hiking Sugarloaf every year on her birthday) and has returned after a number of years in North Carolina where she earned her Masters in Public Administration and worked on numerous environmental issues, including stormwater mitigation and greening local governments. Kristina values all the ways the Ag Reserve benefits our region but nothing beats the excitement of a weekly CSA box or the first peaches of summer, all grown right here!
Originally from New Jersey, Oakley came to the DC area to attend the international studies graduate school at Johns Hopkins (SAIS). He went on to work in the International Division of the US Chamber of Commerce where he ran the Asia Pacific department and later headed up the International Program department overall. In 1985, he joined the American International Group (AIG) where he ran the global government relations operations and established the first climate change program in any US insurance company.
Twenty years ago he and his family moved from Bethesda to a storied historic farm in Darnestown when he, at the age of 52, took to the saddle and found himself two or three days a week riding in the open spaces of the Ag Reserve. It was during those moments that he first came to appreciate the “Green Lung” of the Washington region and how critical it is to promote and protect it. When pressed, Oakley admits a real weakness for the Reserves tender sweet corn.
Oakley, a founding member of MCA, has given generously of his time and talents to the organization and the community.
Treasurer, Chief Financial Officer
Without question, Jean’s steady and patient hand at all things financial has been quite invaluable to our efficiency over many years. Dealing with the myriad details and requirements of a staffed non-profit is a challenge and Jean has proven time and time again that she has it going on.
On New Year’s Day, 2013, Ellen moved to Boyds, MD from suburban Detroit, and promptly fell in love with rural life in the Ag Reserve. She brought with her a passion for cooking locally sourced foods, gardening, land and native plant preservation, playing outdoors, and the importance of community involvement. With a BA in History along with a background in organizing and design, Ellen is also enamored with the area’s rich historical & architectural legacy. In addition, she holds a Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology, and has long been involved in her community through literacy and mentorship programs, organizing and throwing events, giving workshops, and supporting charitable causes. Ellen is really excited about the opportunity to meet more people county wide and share her enthusiasm for the extraordinarily special place that is her adopted home.
Land Link Founder, Shannon Varley and her husband BJ run Bella Terra Family Farm, pictured here with kids/ farm hands Maeve and Luke. Shannon researched and founded the Land Link program for MCA, creating a data base of farmers looking for land and land owners looking to partner with farmers by offering land for sale, long term lease, or granted to a nonprofit farm. Shannon has taken part in these programs while farming in New England and wants to see them flourish in the Ag Reserve. Want to take part in the program? More info here!
MCA reported on the blend of natural ingredients Shannon feeds her chickens here in a post about arsenic in commercial chicken feed. (Yes, you read that right, arsenic. After a long grassroots effort by Food and Water Watch, MCA and others, Maryland was the first state to ban arsenic in chicken feed.)
Senior Editor, photographer and IT Support, Josh Goldman, now in his second year at UMD College Park majoring in electrical engineering. He has lived in the Ag Reserve ”forever” and is keenly aware of the need to protect local natural resources and farmland. Over the past 5 years Josh has provided wonderful digital photography, IT and web site support as well as editing. Josh has written a number of essays profiling life in the Reserve. His favorite local produce: ”I won’t choose between heirloom tomatoes and Kingsbury Pride peaches!”
Development Associate , Christina Barr moved to Maryland in 2001 following obtaining a degree in mixed animal veterinary medicine from the University of Pennsylvania. Originally from the Midwest, Christina studied Biology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and has a PhD in Neuroscience from the Medical College of Ohio, which she obtained prior pursuing her veterinary degree. Christina is an avid animal lover and has a laboratory at the NIH, where she studies the genetic bases for interindividual and interspecies differences in behavior in both domesticated and wild animals. After discovering Sugarloaf Mountain in 2002, she moved to a farmette in Comus, MD, where she and her family currently reside. Christina feels privileged to be given the opportunity to join this group of exceptional people and to contribute to efforts to maintain and grow the agricultural reserve .