Ann Piombino - Farm Manager and Educator
Born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA, Ann’s first brush with agriculture was in her Italian grandparent's backyard garden. She studied Restoration Ecology at Prescott College, and proceeded to live the fast lane life of farming, from market gardens to dairy farms. Her passion for on-farm education grew when she first started working with YFP in 2010, and blossomed into co-creating the Summer Program experience. She is currently the Farm Manager and Educator and oversees day-to-day operations for YFP. She strives to ensure the environment at YFP is one where all youth are safe and can strengthen their perceptions of themselves and the world we all share. Ann loves bringing games and experiential learning to YFP's programs, she is fascinated how we are more open to expressing ourselves while learning about complex social issues, like racism and our food system, free from the roles of society.
Natalia Rathbun - Assistant Farm Manager
An alum of the Youth Farm’s Summer Program, Natalia is excited to have returned in a leadership role. After working for the Farm for three years in high school, Natalia went on to earn her degree in International Agriculture and Rural Development at Cornell University. She has worked for eight seasons on farms in the U.S. and Costa Rica, gleaning skills from varied operations such as veggie CSA’s, a tropical market garden, and rotational grazing meat farms. She also works often with herbal medicine and believes strongly in the value of the connection between all people and the earth. Working hard with the land is her favorite way to learn and grow, and she hopes to bring this passion to the students she sees at the Youth Farm.
Katie Church - Administrator
Katie Church co-founded YFP in the winter of 2009, and has been with the program ever since. Katie is currently in the role of Administrator, keeping things rolling on the office end of the program. Katie's passion for the powerful voices of young people, and her love for the land, drive her commitment to the Youth Farm Project.
Katie grew up in the Ithaca area, and is raising her own family here. For much of her life, Katie's work has centered around food, from working on farms, to managing a large CSA, to working as a chef. Katie's work with the Youth Farm Project ties all of these passions together.
Astrid Castillo - Food and Social Justice Educator
Astrid Castillo works fluidly and consistently to educate the youth and the community in the history of ancestors and the legacy of our interconnectedness to the land. Her connection to land movements was stoked by a childhood full of stories from her grandfather who was a farmer and a big part of the Campesinos Sin Tierra movement in the DR. She comes to Ithaca via a vibrant immigrant community in NJ and has worked on farms in the Finger Lakes region and Montana.
Astrid dove right in, running and assisting in various programs, including the Ithaca Waldorf School Farm Classes, The Social Justice Library, and our Farm to School Field Trip program. She kicked off the Social Justice Intensive, an after school program for teens of color, and works with the teens in GIAC's Conservation Corps each week. Her warm heart and careful preparedness have been felt by all!
In working with the younger members of our communities she hopes to inspire a sense of responsibility and empowerment so that they may be the leaders of manifesting a resilient and exuberant society. By acknowledging their power in becoming stewards of the natural and social environment, she helps the youth transform ideas into action.
Christa Nunez - Manager of Fresh Snack Program
Christa is a graduate of the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts and an attendee of the Sundance Institute for Filmmakers. She was a Freelance Producer for Sundance Channel and Filmmaker Portrait Photographer at The Sundance Film Festivals 2002-2003. She provided much-need respite care to foster children and taught film production to at-risk youth at an alternative High School. She was also a computers professor at Mendocino College.
Recently, she gained valuable marketing expertise in her work as an Advertising Executive for Comcast/NBC Universal and at her firm, CAN Cooperative Media where she managed and provided marketing strategy and campaign implementation to over 30 client accounts.
Currently she runs a youth development firm, SmallNGreat, as well as a nature education organization and organic products manufacturer, The Learning Farm and the Learning Farm Juicery, focusing on supporting children and families in obtaining access to healthy food, sustainable living opportunities and physical exercise in natural environments.
In her spare time, she interviews current movers and shakers in the sustainability realm on her YouTube show, the Sustainability Sentinel.
An active member of her church and in helping people in need, she farms, teaches and lives in Ithaca, NY with her three young children and husband, Pete.