Board of Directors and Founding Members
Our Board of Directors is comprised of a group of inspiring and dedicated individuals who share a common passion...to create a Children's Storybook Garden & Museum with a Learning Center for all children and adults, but especially for the children and families of Kings County. We have members with experience in law, banking, engineering, education, agriculture, landscape construction, horticulture, art, and more. We work very hard and are proud of all that we have accomplished so far. We are anxious to complete this Garden & Museum by the year 2018! We will open the first phase in 2016.
Board of Directors Founding Members
* Represents Founding Members
Kate Catalina *
LInda Nielsen *
Barbara Black Tolle*
Ruth Tolle (honorary member)
Judy Wait *
Cindy Bishop *
Dave Jones *
Peggy Horner *
Barbara Horton *
Larry Wait *
Janet Stivers *
Judy Wait - President, Founder
Judy is a retired educator having taught for 23 years, first as an elementary teacher and later as a library media teacher. She holds a BA in Education and an MA in Library Media Services. She is a wife of fifty three years, a mother of seven children, and a grandmother to fourteen grandchildren. She has been an active community volunteer, 4-H Community Club Leader, and is currently an active member of the Hanford Garden Club where she teaches gardening at local school gardens. Judy enjoys giving youth gardening workshops where literature is always combined with gardening. She loves Hanford because of its historical character and believes strongly in historical preservation.
Her favorite quote is “In a hundred years it will not matter what you owned or how you looked. But the world may be better because you were important in the life of a child.” Anonymous
Eric Osterling - Advisory Member, Media Administrator, Grant Writer
(currently on leave)
Eric C. Osterling is Manager of Water Resources at Kings River Conservation District (KRCD), a resources management agency encompassing one million acres in the central San Joaquin Valley. He has been with KRCD since October 2007. Through local efforts, Groundwater Resources Association (GRA) and Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) subcommittees, he is deeply involved in the development of sustainable policies, and innovated programs, for groundwater management and water quality protection. For the past seven years he has served as Program Manager of the Kings Basin Water Authority (KBWA), an Integrated Regional Water Management Joint Powers Authority comprised of more than 50 agencies, non-profit organizations and non-governmental entities. In that time the KBWA has been successful in leveraging over $55 million in State and private grants to complete more than $100 million to complete planning activities and to construct regional projects that address groundwater overdraft, water conservation and efficiency, water quality, riparian habitat, flood corridors, and disadvantaged community needs. Prior to coming to KRCD, Mr. Osterling worked as a CEQA/NEPA consultant, as a regional operations manager for an international remote sensing and precision agriculture company, as a substitute teacher and literacy tutor, and as an agriculture research assistant at the University of California Cooperative Extension. He holds a bachelors degree in Agroecology and Sustainable Systems from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Jeannie Williams- Web Administer, Media Administrator, Board Member
Jeannie is the owner and manager of Genesis Organic Farm in Hanford, growing stone fruit and berries. In 2008 she began, Discovery Gardens, a hands on agriculture program teaching classes specializing in organic and biological gardening methods to help people learn to grow their own nutrition. Jeannie also started Gardens 4 Education, a fundraising program, which helps local schools support their school gardens. Genesis Organic Farm also hosts a vegetable CSA, Good Seed Organics, featuring a mini farmer's market every Tuesday where members pick up their veggies.
Jeannie is an advocate for healthy eating. "We are starving to death with full stomachs, processed foods simply do not meet our nutritional needs. We have to encourage the next generation to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. Teaching people to grow their own is a great way to make it both affordable and accessible."
Jeannie also has a background in graphic arts and web design which has helped with the creation of the CSG&M website.
She lives in Hanford with her husband, Ted, and daughter, Tahlia.
Favorite quote "Let food be thy medicine" Hippocrates
Ruth Tolle- Board Member and Volunteer Coordinator (Honorary Board Member)
Ruth is a Board Member and the Volunteer Coordinator of the Children’s Storybook Garden & Museum. She is a retired elementary school teacher with over 32 years of experience in grades K-7 with a degree in Elementary Education plus 60 hours over the degree. Professional leadership includes co-chairman of Hanford Elementary Curriculum Committee, Lead Kindergarten teacher for curriculum development, & Negotiating Committee member. Volunteering includes Outdoor Education (both fall & winter experience) with sixth graders, Sunday School teacher, Girl Scout Leader, creating a homework tutoring program for grades K-4 in her church for neighborhood children, organist for her church, leadership roles in church council as well as church women's groups, leader of Bible studies, leadership roles in Daughters of American Revolution.
As a teacher in kindergarten, Ruth enjoyed using the thematic approach to learning. The children were read both fiction and non-fiction literature as well as enjoying the theme in music, art, math, etc. which she felt were the "hooks for learning". Plant life was a favorite theme. When teaching an Educational Handicapped class of eight boys, the boys were introduced to planting a garden. A neighbor volunteered the plot of space.
She is the mother of three children and has two grandchildren. Her paternal grandmother was the mother of 12 children and actively gardened until she was 90. Her grandmother felt all should garden- not only for the food, but also the therapy of working the garden.
The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses. ~Hanna Rion
He who has a garden and a library wants for nothing”
Annemarie Stokes -Advisory Member
Annemarie was born in Morocco and, because of her father’s career in the Foreign Service, lived in Germany, Nigeria, and South Africa for extended periods during her childhood. This allowed for a deep immersion into the cultures of these countries, and these early experiences were the seed of her deep interest in multicultural and diversity issues.
She received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology at the University of California at Davis in June of 1992. Because of her passion for helping others, She went on to complete a Doctoral Degree of Philosophy (PhD) in Applied and Theoretical Clinical Psychology at the California School of Professional Psychology (Currently called Alliant University), in Fresno, California.
She has since worked in a variety of clinical settings including the Department of Mental Health in San Diego, California, and has had the opportunity to teach extensively at several community colleges in San Diego as well. She moved back to the Central Valley in 2008 to work for the Department of Corrections at California State Prison, Corcoran. She has had the privilege of working with several local organizations for fundraising and special events, including the Kings Art Center and the Pet Adoption Center (an animal rescue located in the Hanford mall), and has sat on the board of Andy’s House, the local men’s homeless shelter. She truly enjoys working with non-profit organizations, and finds it personally satisfying to give back to the community in which she resides.
Cindy Bishop- Founding Member
Cindy Bishop is a Founding Member of the Children’s Storybook Garden and Museum and chairs the grant writing team. Cindy is a graduate of Chapman University with a BA degree in Sociology and Psychology, and a multiple subject teaching credential. She is retired from Hanford Elementary School District where she taught 3rd grade for 15 years. She has one son and three grandchildren. Her hobbies include organic vegetable gardening, stained glass work, caring for four back yard chickens, and spending lots of time with her three beautiful grandchildren. Cindy and her husband are currently turning their front yard from grass into a sustainable, raised bed, organic vegetable garden. She hopes to encourage their neighbors to do the same. Once the Children’s Garden is up and running she hopes to teach urban chicken-keeping classes and organic raised bed vegetable gardening.
Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.
Barbara Horton - Founding Member
Barbara is a retired teacher from Pioneer Elementary School. She lives in Hanford, CA with Ken, her husband of 48 years. She is the mother of three grown children and the proud ‘Nana” of eight terrific grandchildren. Barbara is active in her community and her church, cooking at the local soup kitchen and giving food and clothing to the less fortunate through the St. Vincent de Paul Center. She loves to “play in the dirt” as she has been a hands-on gardener in her own back yard for over 40 years and enjoys helping friends and family to plan and plant their yards. She is an active member of the Hanford Garden Club and especially enjoys the club’s field trips to gardens and nurseries all around California.
Barbara’s favorite quote: “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who makes things grow.” (1Cor. 3:7)
Larry Wait - Founding Member
Larry Wait is a retired educator with 36 years of teaching, coaching and administration duties. He and his wife, Judy, are the proud parents of seven grown children and fourteen grand children.
Larry loves old cars, all sports, and antiques and is excited about helping to create the Children’s Garden. He is a ‘people person’ and enjoys sharing the many ways the Children’s Garden and Farm History Museum will enhance our community and promote healthy living, conservation of our natural resources and promote literacy.
"If you think you can or think you can't, either way, you are correct." Henry Ford
Barbara Osterling - Founding Member
Barbara is a retired educator, having taught most levels from kindergarten through college. She was born and raised in Suburban Chicago, but her maternal roots are embedded in agriculture. She is still part owner of a Central Illinois farm which has passed down through three generations.
Barbara did her undergraduate work at DePauw University (Greencastle, IN), where she majored in Romance Languages and spent her junior year studying in Paris, France and Valencia, Spain. She holds an MA in French from UC Berkeley, and while there also completed doctoral work except for the dissertation ("ABD" or "All But Dissertation"!) After moving to Hanford, she completed her Elementary and Administrative Credentials, and taught in Hanford Elementary for 36 years.
Barbara has been married to Dean for 47 years, and they have two married children and two small grandchildren. Their passion is travel, (and the Children's Storybook Garden) and they have visited all 50 states and more than 60 countries.
Carmen Bettencourt- Vice President
Carmen Bettencourt is a mother, community leader, school volunteer, caterer, designer, executive secretary, farmer, and bookkeeper. She is a graduate of Fresno State University with a degree in public administration and recreation. She is the Vice president of the Children’s Storybook Garden and Museum and is the director of the Farm History Museum.
Barbara Black Tolle - Co- Secretary
Board Member, Founding Member
Barbara is a Founding Member and the Secretary of the Children’s Storybook Garden & Museum. She is a graduate of Fresno State University. She is a mother, grandmother, retired teacher of 25 years and a very active member and officer in community clubs, her church group and other organizations. Barbara serves as the secretary for the Children’s Storybook Garden & Museum.
Janet is a retired educator after 18 years teaching at Kit Carson Elementary School. She grew up in Kansas, attended Kansas State University where she received her BS degree in elementary education and also met and married her husband, Fred. She taught one year in Kansas before they moved to Rome, Georgia and lived for 17 years before coming to Hanford in 1984.
Janet worked 10 years as a tax consultant for H&R Block in Georgia and 3 years in California. She also taught the H&R Block basic tax class for 3 years.
She and Fred have 3 grown sons and 5 grandchildren. She is a member the of the Hanford Garden Club and Common Threads Quilt Guild. In addition to gardening and quilting, Janet loves to travel, read, and play bridge.
Dave Jones: Marketing Director, Board Member, Founding Member
Dave Jones was interrupted by major surgery in the last year but after his recovery, he continues to work for the Children's Storybook Garden and Museum utilizing his expertise in agriculture from General Manager 's positions at Rain for Rent, Monarch Nut Company, and Kernpareil Almond Cooperative. He also brings multicultural expertise from his Peace Corps time in Iran as an agriculture instructor and his time in Mexico as Caterpillar Tractor Company's Service Representative. Dave was awarded the best idea award by The American Landscape & Nursery Association for his work in logistics in 2002.
Kate Catalina-Board Member. Co-Secretary Founding Member
Kate Catalina: Fulfills the marketing and business administration function of our organization as well as chairing major fundraising events and is a founding member of Children’s Storybook Garden & Museum. Kate was born in New Orleans, Louisiana and raised in Mobile, Alabama. She brings a cultural diversity to our garden.
After receiving her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Spring Hill College in Mobile, Kate pursued a successful career in the beverage industry for fifteen years, culminating in her hometown growing a small import wine distributorship from $243,000 in annual sales to $1,200,000 in three years.
Kate moved to the Central Valley in 2004 with her newlywed husband, who is currently a Lieutenant Commander in the U S Navy. In 2006 she obtained her real estate license and is a licensed REALTOR with Century 21. Kate and her husband, Louis, have two children who attend public schools in Hanford.
Aubrey Bettencourt- Board Member
Aubrey is the executive director of the CA Water Alliance, and a farmer at Bettencourt Farms. Aubrey has a BA in history business/economics from Westmont College. She is active in the Kings County Farm Bureau, Guild for Central Valley Children’s Hospital, and serves on the Fundraising Committee for the Children’s Storybook Garden & Museum, as well as other community organizations. She loves gardens and children, books and reading and calls herself a ”research junkie”.
Dominique Butler - Board Member
Dominique is the manager of the Comfort Inn, a mother, an active member in NAACP, the Hanford Visitors Bureau, and Soroptomist Club as well as other community organizations. Dominique is a native of Hanford and brings her energy and special perspective to the Board of Directors
Peggy Horner - Founding Member
Peggy served in retail sales and management for over thirty years. She has worked in floral design for more than twenty years. She has been involved in gardening classes for youth, giving workshops and school gardening for many years. She is often asked to give programs and workshops on her many hobbies: living wreaths, hanging baskets, recycling bottles, making yard art, and canning salsa. Peggy is a Past President of the Hanford Garden Club, and a Founding Member of the Children’s Storybook Garden & Museum.
Her favorite quote is:
“Kindness in words creates confidence.
Kindness in thinking creates profoundness.
Kindness in giving creates love."
Lupe Ponce Wong - Advisory Committee
Lupe Wong is a Kings County Employee in the Behavioral Health Department. Lupe has more than 20 years of experience in administrative and fiscal operations management in nonprofit, government, and education sectors. In 1999 she started her career in the government sector as a community development specialist for the City of Corcoran, where she spent more than five years. Lupe is a proud graduate of University of California, Berkeley where she received a Bachelors' Degree in anthropology. She worked on the UC Berkeley campus while earning her bachelor degree and is the former research administrator of a Nobel Prize recipient in Physiology and Medicine.
Lupe was born and raised in tulare and Kings County and grew up on a farm. Her parents, grandparents, and great grandparents taught her how to live off the land. Her family is native to California and Mexico and she is a proud descendent of the Wirkuta (Huichol) Tribe. Her family taught her about the harvest and the hard work associated with getting food to our tables and caring for livestock. Lupe is married to Greg Wong and is the mother of Alejandro, Isabel and Ruben Wong. She is currently an active member of School Site Council, PTA, PTSA and is an advocate for STEM Education, Prevention and Project Based Learning. She and her husband serve as Lego Robotics Coaches for several teams through the FIRST Lego League Organization. Lupe is a past recipient of the Tulare County Volunteer Bureau's "Volunteen" of the year award. Lupe has also served as a Sunday School teacher, Girl Scout Leader, soccer coach, YMCA coach, American Indian Child Resource Center Outdoor Camp counselor and Youth Mentor.
Lupe's favorite quote is:
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." ~Margaret Mead~
Laura Camara - Founding Member
Laura Camara is a Founding Member of the Children's Storybook Garden & Museum. She retired after serving seventeen years as the Director of Food Services for Kings River Hardwick School District. She has been married to her husband Joe, for 49 years. She is the mother of three children, and grandmother of seven grandchildren. Laura is a member of Our Lady of Fatima Altar Society, a member of the Moose's Lodge, a volunteer for the Burris Park Foundation, and an active member of the Hanford Garden Club.
Laura's favorite quote is:
"The first wealth is health." by Waldo Emerson
Dean Osterling - Founding Member
Founding Member. Dean is a retired elementary school administrator who, after teaching fifth and first grades, worked for four years in the Hanford Elementary District Office before serving for 28 years as a principal in six Hanford Elementary and Lemoore Elementary schools. Born in Indianapolis, he was raised in Park Forest, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. He holds a BA in History from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, and an MA and Elementary Administrative Credential from California State University Fresno.
Dean has long been active in the community. He has been a member of Rotary for more than 32 years, and has served as President of Hanford Rotary, as well as in a number of board positions. He has also been active in Rotary District 5230, which includes Kings, Fresno, Tulare, and Monterey Counties. In 2005 he was a Rotary Group Study Exchange Leader, and led a group of four (non-Rotarian) young professionals on a one-month vocational and good will exchange in Armenia, Egypt, Jordan, and Cyprus. In addition to Rotary, Dean has served the local YMCA and is very involved in the Kings County Art Center, serving on the Executive Board in several capacities.
Dean and his wife Barbara have lived for more than 46 years in Hanford, where they raised their two children, both now married. They have two small grandchildren.
Ginnie Herleman - Board Member
Linda Nielsen, Co-Treasurer, Founding Member
Linda was born and raised in Hanford. She is a mother, grandmother, and great grandmother. Linda was a Patient Account Representative for a Non-Profit organization for 28 years. She has been the treasurer for the Hanford Garden Club for over 10 years.
Peyton Sheets - Board Member, Social Media and Newsletter
Peyton is a full-time college student and nanny to two young children. She has always had a love of books and is passionate about fostering a love of reading in others, especially the children she looks after. She is working towards receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology so she can serve as a behavioral aide to children with special needs. She has a desire to help others and make meaningful contributions to her community. She is also a watercolor artist and potter who loves to share her passion for art with others. She manages the Children’s Storybook Garden & Museum’s social media accounts in addition to putting out it’s monthly newsletter.
Jana Dudley - Board Member
Born and raised in Hanford, Jana Dudley retired five years ago from HESD and teaching special education (K-Junior High) for 38 very inspiring years. She graduated from the University of California at Davis with a BA in Psychology and Fresno State with a double teaching credential in elementary education and learning handicapped. She has been married to Roger for 45 crazy years and they have two creative sons, a wonderful daughter-in-law, and a precious 2 year old grandson. Her club involvement includes the presidency of the Hanford Garden Club, secretary of California Retired Teachers, secretary of the Nineteenth Century Round Table, weekly reading to the children in HESD about gardening and related subjects, and occasionally teaching an adult Sunday School class at her church. Other than spending lots of time in the garden, she enjoys anything Star Wars and collecting PEZ dispensers. With her love of children and gardening, she was totally drawn to the Children's Storybook Garden & Museum and the wonderful educational opportunities this venue can bring to our community.
"Truly wonderful the mind of a child is." Yoda
"Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce." Jeremiah 29:5
Aaron Medeiros - Board Member
Aaron is a pastor at Koinonia Church, working as the Outreach Pastor as well as the Junior High School Pastor. Additionally, Aaron works as a barber at his family's salon, the Medeiros Spa & Salon. As a representative of Koinonia Church, Aaron is always eager to make connections in the community and find new ways to generate positive change in our city. In his personal life, Aaron is passionate about growing food. He hopes to find new ways to use gardening to restore lives affected by anxiety, depression, hunger and poverty.
Isaiah 58:11"And the Lord will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.