get to know
CSA/Food Production Manager
Jess began understanding the importance of the food we eat and the way that it is produced when she spent a semester abroad in South India during her junior year at Ramapo College. While there, she saw firsthand the effects of corporate agriculture on small, local farmers & the environment and realized that the same interactions must be going on worldwide. Upon returning home to New Jersey, Jess began to learn more about the complexities of food systems and production in the U.S. To help satisfy her thirst for knowledge, she began volunteering at Fernbrook Farms CSA in 2014.
Curious to learn more about the ins and outs of farming, Jess would ask the Farm Manger (shout out to Jeff Tober!) and the farm crew many questions. With a bachelor’s degree in Biology, she soon found herself just as excited to learn about soil structure, integrated pest management, and cation exchange capacity as much as she was to cook new recipes with the literal fruits of her labor. And after so many days spent hauling fresh produce to smiling shareholders, she was hooked! Jess became an apprentice in 2015 and has been coming back every season since. In 2017, she took over as the Assistant Farm Manager and in 2020 she has taken the helm as the CSA Manager.
Jess is proud to be growing food in an honest way that benefits the local community and ecology. She feels that sustainable farming represents a great intersection of many issues that the world faces today. When she is not at the farm, Jess is usually cooking up a new recipe that she thought up while she was doing tractor work, playing with her dog, Bentley, reading about food / other farming techniques, or spending time with her boyfriend, John.
Homeschool Director, Young Stewards Director
A South Jersey local, Jenna has a combination of book smarts from Rowan University and natural knowledge from a life in the outdoors. Graduated with a B.A. in Health and Exercise Science, certified to teach K-12, Health and Physical Education in New Jersey as well as certified in Adventure and Experiential Learning. She is the future of the education field combining her classroom teaching experience with her love for the outdoors. She has grown up in a family that excels in the outdoors, from skiing and hiking Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains to fishing and exploring the Jersey Pine Barrens. Jenna wishes to educate and share the experience of hands-on environmental education with as many children as she can.
CSA/Food Production Assistant Manager
Many of you already know Nick and I am sure you are looking forward to seeing him back at the farm. If you don’t know Nick, be prepared to meet the friendliest guy around! Nick worked at the CSA for three years and then took a 2 year hiatus down in D.C. working on a couple of other farms. Welcome back Nick!
Saplings Director & Lead Teacher
Liz has always found herself happiest when immersed in nature and when working with children, and she now loves having the opportunity to merge the two at Fernbrook Farms. Liz earned a Bachelor’s degree in planetary science and astronomy in 2015 from Connecticut College where she also conducted research on surface features of Mars. After graduation, she left the lab environment to work as an educator and visitor experience manager for a hands-on math, engineering, and science museum in Pensacola, Florida. While working here she discovered her enthusiasm for informal science education.
Liz started at Fernbrook Farms in the fall of 2018 after she moved to New Jersey with her fiancé and rescue pup, Luna. Starting off as an educator with the afterschool and field trip programs, she is excited to have taken on the role of preschool instructor in the fall of 2019. Liz sees her youngest students as the world’s most natural scientists and she loves getting to watch them grow as they explore the world around them. Liz recently completed her Master’s degree in geoscience with a teaching concentration from Mississippi State University. Now she is looking forward to both bringing new ideas from her classes to Fernbrook’s unique outdoor classroom and to finally having the free time to explore all that New Jersey and the surrounding area has to offer!
In 2020, Liz earned her certification as a Nature-Based Teacher through the Eastern Region Association of Forest and Nature Schools.
Nursery Field Manager
Kevin’s Horticulture career began in 1975, working summers as a maintenance employee for a local landscape company. After a number of years and moving up the ranks to become a supervisor, he was hired by The Williamson College of The Trades in Media, PA, to manage the 200-acre grounds of their campus.
During his tenure at Williamson, he decided to attain a Degree in Ornamental Horticulture from Temple University in Ambler, PA. Upon graduation, he was hired by Cumberland County College as an Associate Professor for the Ornamental Horticulture Associate Degree. Kevin was responsible for the entire contents of the curriculum, as well as student advisement. Over the years he also helped develop articulation agreements with four-year universities in order for the students at Cumberland County to make a smooth transition to pursue a Bachelor Degree.
In 2002, Kevin was hired by Ehrich & Ehrich Nursery in Chesterfield, NJ to head their ball and burlap operation. Although he lacked experience in the nursery industry, with determination and hard work, Kevin grew the nursery into a successful operation.
Eventually, Kevin was wooed by Larry Kuser, owner of Fernbrook Nursery, to become the field manager and where he continues to be employed.
Kevin enjoys life outside of Fernbrook Farms with his wife Michele and daughters Caitlin and Emma. When any free time presents itself, you may find Kevin fishing, golfing, and or reading.
Lauren is a self-described nature nerd who loves learning everything she can about ecology. She uses her own fascination with the natural world to help inspire her students. She discovered her knack for teaching while leading nature hikes as a student at Cornell University, and again while working in the education department of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. After graduating with her degree in sustainable agriculture in 2016, she spent several years travelling the country as a field ecologist. Among her many job descriptions, she monitored woodland plant populations in the Missouri Ozarks, radiotracked quail on the tallgrass prairie, researched bird damage in blueberry orchards, and worked to restore habitat and control invasive species. She spent a summer as a farmhand in Pennsylvania, and she assisted research in Costa Rica and in the Dominican Republic.
Lauren joined Fernbrook Farms in fall of 2020. Now that her ecological skill set is well-honed, she’s delighted to return to full-time environmental education. She loves helping her Saplings students discover how neat nature can be, and she is thrilled to have a job that combines all of her passions into one. She strongly believes that children are natural learners who just need the freedom and flexibility to follow their curiousity.
In her free time, Lauren loves to go birdwatching, cook with fancy ingredients, contradance, and relax at home with her cat, Max.
Educator/Animal Barn Manager
Born in Morocco as the daughter of a Navy veteran, Lydia came to New Jersey as a toddler. She spent her childhood raising animals and riding horses in Cream Ridge, NJ. After attending Ocean County College, Lydia accepted a position in the banking industry where she managed Money Markets and Certificates for over 14 years.
As an officer in the Pinellas County Homeschool Association, she assisted in the selection of curriculum, the teaching of children from grades K – 7, and the managing of finance for that association.
For the past 23 years, she has been active in various county 4H programs to include:
- Pinellas County Cooperative Extension
- Burlington County Farm Fair Volunteer Recruiter
- Burlington County Sheep Club
- Burlington County Goat Club
- Hunderton County Sheep Club
- Hunderton County Veterinary Club
Lydia maintains a volunteer leadership position with the Burlington County 4-H program, where she holds a seat on the Leaders Council as Treasurer, provides out of school educational experiences for Burlington County youth in grades K through 13, teaching members to learn life skills, explore their world, and learn more about themselves. Thus, becoming competent, caring, and contributing citizens.
She came to Fernbrook Farms 13 years ago as a Shepherd to the animals. In addition to caring for each of their diverse needs, Lydia also attends to the animal’s varied and individual health requirements, including diet, threat of disease, animal handling, and human – animal contact on a daily basis.
Lydia, also tends the Children’s Garden, assists in educating in the garden and simply enjoys being part of the Fernbrook family.
Nursery Customer Service
Tanya’s love for the outdoors sparked her interest in ornamental horticulture at a very young age. When it was time to decide a career path, well let’s just say it was decided without a question or doubt. Her ornamental horticulture education was obtained from Mercer County Community College and Rutgers University. Where she graduated with an associate’s degree in Ornamental Horticulture. Tanya continued to gain knowledge in this industry from past employers, Princeton Nurseries, Rappleyea’s Nursery and at Fernbrook Nursery since 2008. In 2015 she became a CNLP and in 2016 she was named the ‘Young Professional of the Year’ from the NJNLA. Tanya has been married to her best friend, Robert, since May 2002 and they have 2 kids (the 4 legged kind) Mia and Max, Alaskan Malamutes. They love to get out and go kayaking, quad riding, bicycling and walking in their free time.
Miss Patty has been teaching environmental education for the last 20 years. In addition to Fernbrook Farms, she has worked at Cedar Run Wildlife Center and Paws Farm Nature Center. She is a certified teacher in special education and early childhood education. Miss Patty has recently finished her masters degree as a Teacher of Biological Sciences.
While pursuing that degree, she was able to study and participate in conservation efforts in Baja, Thailand and Borneo. During those trips, she swam with whale sharks and sea lions, studied coastal, desert and rainforest ecology, planted trees in a disturbed rainforest, went scorpion hunting in the desert, participated in studies of orangutans and proboscis monkeys, slow loris and frogs in Borneo, and planted an organic rice paddy in Thailand.
Patty has also participated in an Earthwatch Project in Ecuador studying tropical birds in the cloud forest and using a mist net to catch and tag them for future population studies. During another educational trip to the Amazon, she visited remote villages where she studied the rainforest, saw pink dolphins and poison arrow frogs, went piranha fishing, learned about plant and herbal remedies from the local shaman and tried a blow gun used by native tribes.
Her love of animals and nature also found Miss Patty on an African safari where she observed and learned about a whole array of animals on the African plains in Kenya and Tanzania. She has a hard time naming her favorite animal which might be a giraffe one week and cheetah the next.
Miss Patty came to Fernbrook Farms in 2013 and has been teaching field trips, homeschool classes and the occasional summer camp week. She currently is the lead upper level (ages 12 to 14) homeschool teacher.
Events Manager @ The Inn
Kristin has been in love with love her whole life. Therefore, it was a no brainer when she made the decision to work in the wedding industry. It has always come natural for Kristin to want to work with people and create the best experiences for everybody possible. She has always been a proactive planner of sorts. From the time she was a child she would plan each day from start to finish. With her passion of food and events, the hospitality industry has always been her number one choice.
Kristin started her career participating in culinary arts classes in both high school and college. Here she had the responsibility of running fully operational restaurants. Kristin attended college at Western Illinois University in 2009. She graduated from Cheyney University in Philadelphia in 2012 with her B.S. in Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Management. After graduating from Cheyney University in 2012 Kristin moved to Orlando, Florida to work at Nickelodeon Suites Resort along side the Ninja Turtles. Although she loved the thrill that the character dinners and events brought to her life Kristin has always had a heart of gold and loves to surround herself by family. Therefore, she moved back to New Jersey in 2013 and began her catering and event manager career at Rider University working for Aramark. Kristin learned the ins and outs of catering at Rider but after 3 long years there it was time to venture further into her journey. After spending a few moments on the Fernbrook Farms property, learning about the history and everything they stood for, Kristin was absolutely certain that this would be her next big move. Starting at Fernbrook Farms in May 2018 as the Event’s Manager, Kristin has already gotten through the start of a busy wedding season and looks forward to many more seasons at Fernbrook Farms with her newfound family.
Outside of work Kristin enjoys spending time with her son Maison and her family. She loves traveling and hopes to fill her passport up with stamps from all over the world. She enjoys planning huge get-togethers for her family and friends. On her days off you can find her at the beach, watching reality tv or more than likely at the mall.
Yvonne Itchmoney joined Fernbrook Farms in 2015 and handles many of the day-to-day administrative and financial aspects of operating each of the farms’ businesses.
Yvonne’s background is in journalism. She spent many years in the print journalism industry before taking time off to be with her family. Upon going back to work, Yvonne channeled her management skills into business administration. Yvonne discovered Fernbrook Farms in 2013, when her son began attending the Education Center’s Fiddlehead summer camp program. When an opportunity to become part of Fernbrook Farms presented itself, Yvonne didn’t waste any time! The farm has since become her home away from home.
When she’s not at the farm, Yvonne enjoys spending time with her family. In addition to her coworkers, Yvonne adores her husband, son and Batman. Yvonne’s hobbies include discovering new movies and music, nagging her kid to do his homework and/or chores, macro and nature photography, reading anything and everything, hiking with her dogs, taking long bike rides, celebrating all things Halloween, and caring for her own flock of assorted critters.
Education Director, Summer Camp Director
Brian Kuser, son of Larry ‘Farmer Q’ & Susie Kuser, has been involved in outdoor education since 1996. During his years at Bates College in Maine, Brian spent his summers working at Keewaydin Camps in Vermont where his love of experiential environmental education was founded.
After graduating Bates with a degree in mathematics, Brian started teaching at New England boarding schools while continuing to spend his summers at camp in Vermont. Brian took a couple winters off from the indoor classroom and spent several seasons teaching in the outdoor classroom at Keewaydin Environmental Education Center and Hulbert Outdoor Center where he focused on environmental education and teambuilding activities. He then married Tracy and they moved to Thailand to teach at an international school.
Brian and Tracy returned to the US in 2007 where they began teaching at the Montclair Kimberley Academy. Brian spent 6 years teaching high school math at MKA while spending his summers as the Summer Camp Director at Fernbrook Farms. In 2013, Brian left the indoor classroom for good and joined the year-round staff at Fernbrook as the Director of Education. He truly enjoys being able to share his love of his childhood backyard with the kids as they get to experience the joys of the outdoor classroom at Fernbrook Farms.
Brian and Tracy moved to the farm in 2015 and have introduced two more Kusers to the farm, Mikala (born 2008) and Gemma (born 2011) who can both be seen around campus during camp, after school programs, and more!
Larry “Farmer Q” & Susie Kuser
Larry ‘Farmer Q’ & Susie Kuser moved to the farm in 1974 and have been actively running the farm since 1982. They have been married for over 40 years, have three grown children and eight grandchildren. Their vocation and avocation are the same: to live close to the earth and share the farm with as many people as possible.
Prior to farming, Farmer Q was a high school math and science teacher and coach. From 1976-1981 he served as Dean of Students for Princeton Day School in Princeton, NJ. Farmer Q has never given up his love of teaching or his involvement in the community. He has been an adjunct teacher at Mercer County Community College, Rutgers University School of Continuing Education and the New York Botanical Gardens. He has given lectures for the Master Gardeners programs and the New Jersey Association of Landscape Architects. In 2014, he was inducted into the NJ Nursery & Landscape Association’s Hall of Fame.
He serves on the Board of Directors of the New Jersey Community Forestry Council, a past member of the New Jersey Nursery and Landscape Association Board, the Burlington County Board of Agriculture, and past president of the Chesterfield Township Environmental Commission. Farmer Q is a graduate of Cornell University and has a Masters degree in Education from Fordham University.
Prior to running The Inn, Susie ran Wit & Whimsy, a boutique gift store in Bordentown, NJ from 1983-1987 and Princeton, NJ from 1988-1994. Her love, passion, and gift for hospitality have transformed The Inn from ‘Farmer Q’s’ boyhood home into a beautiful place for family and friends to come together to celebrate special occasions.
School Programs Director
Stacy hasn’t always been a nature lover. According to her mom, her first response to the outdoors was to cry. She quickly moved from tears to mud pies, plant mash concoctions, and roaming the ravines and forest preserves.
Stacy spent hours reading the “Little House” Books, fascinated with the history of the first people to live on this land. She always wanted to live on a farm, close to nature in a simple way, and sought out the opportunity to live and work on a sheep farm in Olympia, WA caring for a small flock of sheep, chickens, turkeys, a small fruit orchard, and a prolific garden.
It was there that Stacy began to make the oft-lost connection between farms and food, and spent many hours trying recipes and herbal teas reminiscent of her childhood concoctions. Nowadays Stacy is known at Fernbrook for her famous “Tea Parties” and “Pesto Eggs” as many summer campers can attest!
After five years of farm life, two years with AmeriCorps Youth in Service, and a year of internships in NYC, Stacy graduated from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington with a Bachelor of Fine Arts.
After taking time after graduation to live abroad teaching English in Chengdu, China, Stacy returned to the USA. Country life beckoned, and in early 2006 she found a new opportunity as “Farm Educator” at Pennypack Farm in Horsham, PA. Connecting her experience in classroom teaching with her knowledge of farming, love of the outdoors, and an unquenchable thirst for interdisciplinary intersection, a career path was born. So was her son, Diego, who spent many days bundled on her back while she led field trips, camper visits, and community classes on the farm.
Following a field trip from a Montessori School near Pennypack, Stacy became intrigued by the Montessori philosophy and methods of teaching. Becoming a Montessori Guide in 2008 brought new inspiration for creating lessons and activities that borrow their educational themes from farming and the natural cycles of life. During this time, she noticed that today’s young children are often full of stress, anxiety and disconnection from the natural world,. Stacy started bringing yoga into her classroom to help combat the effects of modern life stress on children and their families.
Stacy became a certified 200RYT Yoga teacher in 2014, offers a variety of yoga based summer and school break camp activities. Certified to teach both floor yoga as well as aerial yoga, campers benefit from these stress busting moves with her much loved “Hammock Hangout” and “Nature Yoga Scavenger Hunt” all over Fernbrook’s grounds are a camper favorite! Yoga not only helps children cope with stress and social anxiety, but it also lends itself to our work as nature educators by offering a perspective centered in compassion extending to all living things.
General Manager @ The Inn
Teri Lands is one of New Jersey’s premier catering and event specialists. With a comprehensive background in event planning and many years of relevant hospitality experience, Teri is widely recognized for creating and executing some of the most beautiful weddings on the East Coast. Supported by a qualified, detail-oriented team, she has most recently led Main Street Fine Catering’s special events division (currently Fenwick Hospitality Group), establishing it as The Knot’s Best of Weddings Hall of Fame, the only caterer in NJ to earn this distinction. Teri has perfected the art of executing spectacular events, focusing on an authentic approach to planning. Her creativity and artistic nature allow her to find the perfect way to achieve each client’s singular vision.
Having planned hundreds of unique weddings and events from offbeat to intimate exclusive locations, Teri and her events have been featured in Martha Stewart Weddings, Style Me Pretty, TheKnot, NJ Bride, Bucks County Magazine, Town & Country Weddings, and many other publications and blogs.
With a firm belief in providing her clients with the very best organic and sustainable foods, Teri is excited to take on her newest role as part of the Fernbrook Farm family as the General Manager at the Inn at Fernbrook Farm helping to continue to host truly amazing, one-of-a-kind events. Teri has consulted and catered at Fernbrook Farm for over 18 years and is back to work with the team to elevate the on-site events to the next level.
Sean LaVergne discovered his passion for nature and the outdoors through the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts of America. Earning the rank of Eagle in 2013 for a Habitat Restoration project, he made the decision to spread his passion for the outdoors. His career in Environmental Education began at the age of 15 at Forestburg Scout Reservation, the summer camp for Monmouth County Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Over his 5 years at Forestburg Scout Reservation, Sean taught scouts from all over Northern New Jersey about the natural world around them and how we affect it. At 19, he became the Director of the Ecology and Conservation Area and an Instructor in Leave No Trace, an outdoor ethics organization.
In 2017, Sean graduated from Stockton University with a BS in Environmental Studies, where he studied local and global environmental issues and solutions, as well as assisted with research into the Fire Ecology of the Pine Barrens. Starting as a field trip educator in the spring of 2018, Sean continued at Fernbrook Farms as a camp counselor in the summer, becoming the Director of Afterschool Programs in the Fall of 2018. Sean looks forward to sharing his passion for nature for years to come.
Kayla is a Jersey girl who decided to give veggie farming a shot after working as a landscape architect and separately in the floral business. Kayla is kicking butt on our JD 1050 tractor this year and is already a pro with it. Be sure to quiz her about the Latin names of your favorite plants…
Rachel is the apprentice who traveled the furthest to be a part of the 2020 season – she came all the way from Oklahoma! Rachel has also been kicking tractor butt on our IH 274 tractor. She is a basket weeding pro at this point and could even do tractor work while dreaming of fried pie (if you don’t know why you should ask Rachel or visit Oklahoma!).