Board of Directors

& Founding Members

​        Our Board of Directors and Founding Members are comprised of a group of inspiring and dedicated individuals who share a common passion...to create a Children's Storybook Garden & Museum for all children and adults of Kings County.  We have members with experience in law, banking, engineering, education, agriculture, landscape construction, horticulture, business, 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, and with your continued support we will make it happen! 

Tony Mendes

President

​        Tony Mendes was born and raised on a small dairy farm (60 cows!!) just outside of Hanford where they also grew apricots and peaches for drying.  He taught grades 3-8 in Hanford and Corcoran for 40 years.  Now retired, he is president of the Kings County division of California Retired Teachers (CalRTA Div 30). 

​        He is inspired by the vision and the people attracted to it:  Storybook Garden is an experience!

His favorite quote is:

​        “We think we can! We think we can! We think we can!”

- (adapted from The Little Engine That Could.)

Barbara Black Tolle
Founding Member

 
        Barbara 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.

​Her favorite quote is:

        "One filled with joy preaches without preaching."

​        ​        ​        - Mother Teresa

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.

Her favorite quotes are:

        "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

Carmen Bettencourt
Founding Member

 

​        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.

​       

​        Carmen is a very active member of her community.  She is the director of the Farm History Museum.

Her favorite quote is: 

​        "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

​        ​        ​        - Margaret Mead

Lisa Conway
Board Member
 

I am a lover of all things home and family, gardening, decorating and entertaining 

and all kids activities. 

After graduating from Oregon State University I  became a flight attendant for Delta Airlines and met my future husband, Rick, who had just begun his law career. We have lived in Hanford and been married 38 years where we have raised 5 children and now just became proud grandparents for the first time. 

Through the years I have been actively involved and held many offices in community clubs, volunteered at our kids many school and sporting activities, including being Room Mother over 24 times!
I am happy to serve the community that our family has enjoyed for so long!

Mahi Woody

Board Member

 

        Mahi graduated from Hanford High and spent one year at COS Visalia before moving to Los Angeles. While there, she studied respiratory therapy at a private college and went on to work in that field for 15 years. 

​        She then discovered what would become her lifelong passion: natural living. This led her to become a vegetarian/cook/chef. Her family owned and operated a natural food store and juice bar.

 

        On her journey, she was employed by a few celebrities, such as Charles Dutton, Debbi Morgan, and Syreeta Wright. She became a strong advocate for animal rights, pesticide-free living, and other passions. 

        After many years, Mahi returned to Hanford and inherited her parents' home. Her youngest daughter lives on the property as well, and together they take care of the land where Mahi's parents were mainly farmers. Mahi and her daughter have a goal to leave a living legacy for others to enjoy in memory of her parents.

Her favorite quote is:

​        "What you think you become, what you feel you attract, what you imagine you become." 

- The Buddha 

Eldon Bueno
Board Member
 

Eldon Bueno is with the UC CalFresh team in Kings County as a Community Education Specialist. With a B.S. Degree in Health Education from San Francisco State, Eldon’s passion resides in youth development, education, and promoting health and wellness. He previously worked in After School Programs for the Stonestown Family YMCA in San Francisco and is excited to utilize his past experiences in the Bay Area to serve his hometown community. Eldon aims to provide quality instruction and enriching classes on health education to our youth and is hopeful about making a healthy change in the Central Valley to decrease health disparities that are currently affecting our community.​

Judy Wait
 Vice President
Director
 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-four years, a mother of seven children, and a grandmother to fourteen grandchildren.

       

        She has been an active community volunteer, 4-H Community Club Leader, member of P.E.O., 19th Century Round Table, and a member of the Hanford Garden Club where she was teaching gardening at local school gardens, then deciding that all children in the Valley deserve a beautiful, educational and magical Garden!  Judy enjoys working with the Green Teens.  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

Linda Nielsen
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 of the Hanford Garden Club for over 10 years, and the Treasurer for CSG&M for four years.

Lindsey Calvillo
Board Member

 

        Lindsey is an elementary school principal for Hanford Elementary School District. She taught 3rd, 7th, and 8th grades, all for HESD, before becoming a Learning Director and current Principal. She was born and raised in Tollhouse, CA where she developed her love for agriculture and athletics. She holds a BA in Liberal Studies with a minor in Math and English from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and an MA and Administrative Credential from California State University, Fresno.

        Lindsey has happily lived in Hanford for the past 23 years with her husband, Rick (an elementary school teacher) and three daughters. Lindsey is passionate about education and providing hands-on experiences to children. She enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her family and friends. 

Ginnie Herleman
Parliamentarian
Board Member

        Ginnie is retired from Kings County Human Services.  Ginnie worked for the county for 20 years and was an Employment and Training Supervisor when she retired.  Ginnie grew up in the Bay Area and moved to Hanford with her husband Ron when he began working as an attorney in Kings County 41 years ago. She is the Parliamentarian for the Garden Board.

 

        Ginnie has belonged to many local organizations and served as an officer many times.  She raised her children and her grandchildren are being raised in the area.  Ginnie has been involved in many youth organizations.

Her favorite quote is:

        "God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts.  Use them well to serve one another."

​        ​        ​        - 1 Peter 4.10.

Jeannie Williams

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. 

​        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 and marketing materials.  She lives in Hanford with her husband, Ted.

Her favorite quote is:

​        "Let food be thy medicine"

- Hippocrates

Maryse Guevara

formerly a Board Member, now our

Director of Education

 

        Maryse earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from California Lutheran University.  After working for five years in California's Child Welfare Services as a social worker, she earned two teaching credentials and worked for 11 years teaching 5th and 6th grades.  She has taught AVID classes and is a teacher consultant for the San Joaquin Valley Writing Project. 

 

​        Recently, Maryse completed Master Gardener training.  Maryse is now the CSG&M's Director of Education and writes our curriculum for the field trips as well as teaching the lessons on the trips!   Her favorite part of spending time in the Garden is hearing from children and visitors all the ways the Garden serves the community. 

Her favorite quote is:

​        "Beauty surrounds us, but usually we need to be walking in a garden to know it." 

- Rumi 

Chris Raven

Board Secretary

 

        Chris was born in Hanford and raised in Laton on a dairy farm & walnut ranch. After graduating from Laton High School, she studied at California State University, Fresno and earned K-12 teaching credential. She then taught at Laton Unified for 36 years.

        Chris has 2 daughters, 8 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren. For 40 years, she has been a member of Theta Tau Theta Sorority, an organization that sponsors local children and families to Summer Camp at Bearskin Meadows Diabetes Youth Families in Sequoia National Forrest.  

​Chris is passionate about the Children's Storybook Garden & Museum. She loves volunteering, learning new things, and interacting with the guests at the Garden. 

Susan Lafferty
Board Member

 

Susan has been a nutrition educator for the University of California Cooperative Extension for over 11 years.  She especially enjoys working with youth teaching them about healthy choices and physical activity.  She attended COS majoring in business administration.  She is a mother and grandmother and has been active in youth organizations including 4-H, FFA and Kings County Junior Fair Board.  Susan  has lived in Hanford with her husband, David, for over 44 years. She enjoys reading, camping and being outdoors.

© 2019 Children's Storybook

Garden & Museum,

a 501(c)(3) organization.

FOLLOW US:

Children's Storybook

Garden & Museum

175 East Tenth St

Hanford, CA 93230

(559) 500-9966

Mailing address: 

P.O. Box 363

Hanford, CA 93232

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