Meet the Schoolyard Roots Staff

We are fortunate at Schoolyard Roots to have a dedicated, committed, and passionate group of individuals who thrive on their work. Their passion for garden-based education makes our great state healthier and more sustainable, one child at a time.

Eric Courchesne


Eric is the CEO of Oak Philanthropy in Tuscaloosa, AL and the Schoolyard Roots Interim Executive Director. With a wealth of nonprofit experience he is working on a strategic plan and the hiring of the organization’s second permanent ED.    205.523.5450


Nicole Gelb Dugat

Nicole comes to Schoolyard Roots with over a decade of experience working in Food Education across the U.S. She has taught at nonprofit and Permaculture farms, and most recently at a world-class school garden program in New Orleans. She holds a degree in Experiential Education, and when she’s not working you can find her painting plants or planting flower seeds and tending honey bees in her backyard.

Becca Gardner


Becca, an Alabama-native, has a degree in Zoology from LSU and is a former high school math teacher. She enjoys hiking, exploring, traveling, and making a variety of teas with fresh ingredients from the garden.

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Kate Brundrett


Kate comes to us with a degree in
Environmental Science from the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). Aside from her triathlon training and dog-cuddling, Kate has a passion for promoting a healthy lifestyle and enjoyable learning experiences for students.


Casey Vinson

Casey’s education has focused on geography and GIS. He hopes to use what he has learned to further his career in sustainability. He believes gardens can serve as a resource for learning how to feed yourself or local communities. He likes to spend as much time as possible on slacklines, in caves, or on walks with his dog. 



Tom Rathe

Coming from Central Virginia where he has spent countless hours gardening as both a personal hobby and full-time occupation, Tom is thrilled to share his passion and enthusiasm for growing vegetables with students and teachers alike. He is also an avid folk musician and loves going on hikes with his dog, Dolly.



Natalie Wulf

Natalie Wulf recently graduated from The University of Alabama with a degree in civil engineering. She co-teaches garden lessons, assists the garden committee, and facilitates school and community events at two of our second year schools.


Rachael Floyd

 A native of Atlanta, Rachael joins the Schoolyard Roots team with multiple years of non-profit experience and her B.A. in Religion & Social Justice from Agnes Scott College. She is passionate about helping Southern communities thrive and believes Schoolyard Roots is one piece of that puzzle. When she isn’t working, she is likely out hiking or dreaming about her future garden.


Riley Giles

Riley graduated from the University of Alabama in 2017 with a B.A in film and communications. Riley has a passion for storytelling that makes a difference, and hopes to improve the community by sharing the story of Schoolyard Roots. In his free time, Riley enjoys video gaming, spoiling his cat rotten, and thinking about saving the bees.


Davie Higginbotham

A Tuscaloosa area native, Davie is a recent graduate of The University of Alabama with a major in advertising and a minor in sociology. Outside of work, his time is most likely to be spent with a good book  or history-related podcast.



Each semester, Schoolyard Roots receives several part-time students through the Federal Work Study program, administered by The University of Alabama.



Noel Amason Fleta Edwards Dr. Chris McGee Eddie Sherwood
Catherine Bridgers Dr. Wes Hollowell Sarah Moore W. Ryan Stallings
Anna Burns Molly Ingram Bill Petty Rebecca Young
Adelaide Drennen Emily Wolfe Leigh Jennifer Schmitt