The 2017 Agroecology Summer Intensive (ASI) was the last year for two faculty members who have served the program since its inception in 2006. Larry Yoder and Melissa Kinsey were honored for their contributions at the concluding celebration of the 2017 ASI in early August.
Larry Yoder, who retired from his role as assistant director at Merry Lea in 2007, continued to play a role in the ASI’s course on soils each year. Larry’s training as a botanist, his experience as the proprietor of the Yoder Family Farm and his passion for geology enriched the students’ experiences. His contribution was especially critical in 2015, following the death of Dale Hess, the first director of the ASI. With the coming of John and Ruth Mischler in January 2017, the ASI is now fully staffed, enabling Larry to attempt to retire once again.
Melissa Kinsey, alumni director at Goshen College, taught a course entitled Small Farm Management and Marketing. A former business professor whose expertise is in entrepreneurship and the management of nonprofits, Melissa guided students through the process of designing a business plan for a farm they could imagine owning someday. In Melissa’s case, the changes came about because of the new Sustainable Food Systems major that Goshen College launched this year. Courses were shuffled as a result, and the marketing course that Melissa taught will now take place on campus, not in the ASI.
“Our students are often missing much of that business piece and it’s inspiring to see how much care she puts into meeting students where they are,” observed John Mischler, director of the ASI. John sent the two faculty home with jars of homemade blackberry jam to remind them of the Merry Lea Sustainable Farm.