Thursday, January 26, 2017

Meet the Staff ...

Whew! Time sure flies! It's hard to believe it's already almost February of 2017. Soon we'll be seeing spring flowers around here again. Meanwhile, maybe this pic will help us all think warm thoughts.

In a previous blog post, I gave you a peak at some of what we do here at Rural Resources. This time, I'd like to introduce you to the staff. The first person you're likely to meet when you call or stop by our office is Sharon Tanner. 

Volunteer Coordinator/Office Assistant Sharon Tanner

Sharon Tanner has been with Rural Resources for more than 10 years as a volunteer and part-time employee, and is currently our volunteer coordinator and office assistant through the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) of 1st Tennessee Human Resources Agency. Sharon is an invaluable member of the Rural Resources team, infusing our organization with her positive "can-do" attitude and using her diverse employment experience and talents to further our mission. She says her time here has been a positive experience in both learning new skills and for the many opportunities it's given her to help our community.

Rhonda doesn't wait for folks to come to her. She goes to them.

Outreach Coordinator Rhonda Hensley

Rhonda Hensley's love for people has driven Rural Resources' outreach efforts since 2005. She served as the Mobile Farmers' Market Manager and has pioneered the Children's Farmer's Market program and a partnership with Second Harvest to bring fresh produce to low income neighborhoods.  She tirelessly seeks out those who can't get to soup kitchens or food drops because of transportation or health issues, to find ways to bring food to those who need it most. Rhonda received an associates degree in Education from Walters State Community College and attended East Tennessee State  University. Prior to working for Rural REsources, Rhonda operated a restaurant and rural country store. Her passion for nutritional educatio is focused on public and low income housing, where she has been instrumental in leading and teaching folks to grow and prepare some of their own food.

Sally Causey might be a more familiar name to you. 

Executive Director Sally Causey

Sally Causey, Rural Resources' executive director, has piloted our organization since 1996. Sally brings a great deal of energy and a wide variety of skills to the complex blend of public and private interests that define the nonprofit world. She loves teaching children of all ages how to milk Virginia the cow and takes an active role in field trips to the farm in spite of her busy schedule. Sally holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of North Carolina and a MAEd. from Tusculum College. In addition to raising two boys with her husband, she's a lifetime member of the Girl Scouts, Elder in the Presbyterian Church, a 2004 Greene Co. Partnership Leadership Class graduate, and a 2015 graduate of the University of Tennessee's Consortium of Social Enterprise Effectiveness.

Anyone who is involved with the teen program will recognized Miss Debbie!

Farm and Food Teen Training Program Coordinator Debbie Strickland

Debbie Strickland is  the Farm and Food Teen Training program coordinator at Rural Resources, a post she has held since 2008. She is loved for her tireless efforts to empower and nurture disadvantaged youth and inspire them to reach their fullest potential. She teaches nearly 50 teens gardening, animal husbandry, cooking, business, and leadership skills annually. Prior to working with Rural Resources, she worked for Just for Girls, Manatee County Girls Club in Florida where she helped to develop class curricula. She has a college background in business administration and management, and comes from a family farm in Indiana.

Working closely with Miss Debbie is Taylor Boles.

AmeriCorps/Appalachia CARES Member Serving as the Garden and Grazing Manager Taylor Boles

Taylor Boles is an AmeriCorps/Appalachia CARES member serving as the garden and grazing manager. She works directly with youth in the Farm and Food Teen Training program, developing curricula and teaching classes, as well as planning and managing the teen garden and greenhouse. She is a full-time student pursuing a degree in biology with a concentration in environmental studies. Her passions include environmental justice and education. She hopes to make a difference in the world one compost bin at a time. 

Teddy Dabbs has been keeping the farm running for years.

Farm Manager Teddy Dabbs

Since 2007, Farm Manager Teddy Dabbs' welcoming smile, watchful eyes and capable hands have guided the farm through its seasonal cycles. He cares for the livestock daily, as well as oversees gardens, repairs, maintenance and supervises volunteers. His wealth of knowledge and experience has earned the respect of all who work with him, as well as the affectionate title of "Cow Whisperer." Teddy grew up on a Greene County farm and enjoys his time working in Rural Resources' country setting.

This guy usually stays in the background, but he loves to teach the kids. He is seen here telling them about vermiculture.

Accounts Manager Paul Scala

Paul Scala is Rural Resources’ accounts manager and works with the treasurer in the finance committee. Paul is a long-time organic grower and has been composting with worms for much of that time, something he shares with visitors of all ages who come to Rural Resources. Before becoming Accounts Manager, Paul’s position was Educator, where he taught gardening to elementary school children in after school programs. Previously, Paul worked in Accounts Payable for a local industry. He holds a B.A. in sociology from Binghamton University.

And that leaves me. I first learned about Rural Resources while conducting interviews for the Greeneville Sun's ATHENA Award nominations as a freelancer in 2014.

AmeriCorps/Appalachia CARES Member Serving as the Communications Coordinator Lorelei Goff

Lorelei Goff came to Rural Resources in 2014, enthusiastically volunteering her talents as a blogger and photographer, and working with Farm Day Camp. She became a seasonal program assistant in the Farm and Food Teen Training Program in 2016 and is currently serving as Rural Resources' communications coordinator through AmeriCorps/Appalachia CARES. Lorelei has a bachelor's degree with concentrations in journalism and environmental studies. In addition to serving at Rural Resources, she works as a freelance science and environmental writer, a staff writer and education editor at the Greeneville Sun and is a certified naturalist.

So that's all about us. How about telling us a little bit about yourself and how you became interested in Rural Resources? Please comment below!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

What Do You Do, Anyway?

Are you wondering what Rural Resources actually does? Check out these videos and blog links to find out!

If you like what you see and want to participate or volunteer, call the office at 423-636-8171.

Would you like to donate to our capital campaign to finish our Farm & Food Learning Center?  Visit our website,, or 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Orientation for Farm and Food Teen Training Program!

It's time to sign up for the 2017 session of the Farm and Food Teen Training program!

Orientation is Monday, January 16th from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in Greeneville. Any interested teens in middle school or high school can apply for a limited number of slots. The program has a heavy emphasis on hands-on learning. Topics include gardening, livestock, cooking and entrepreneurship. Participation in the program can lead to paid internships and exploring higher education options.

For more information, call Debbie at 423-636-8171.

If you would like to support this program for youth in our community, please visit .