Our Team

Devon Turner
Executive Director

 

Glenn Caston
Program Manager

Clara Lyle
Social Enterprise Manager


Kaya Jones
Field Trip and Alumni Coordinator


Travis Cleaver
Site Coordinator

Kevin Connell
Education Coordinator

 
Sean Winford
Assistant Farm Manager

Leo Gorman
Farm Manager

 
Cassie Reeves
Communications and Event Coordinator

 

Grow Dat Fellows

Alex Sanders
Farm Fellow

Jonshell Johnson
Crew Leader

 

Najee Finner
Crew Leader

 

Maggie Mullins
Crew Leader

Jessie Zelisko
Crew Leader

 


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Devon Turner

Executive Director

T. 917 710 3168
devon@growdatyouthfarm.org

A native of Plaquemines Parish in southeastern Louisiana, Devon's career has been focused on supporting and advocating for young men and women, first as an educator, teaching about social justice issues at the nexus of race, gender, justice, and violence. She was then instrumental in the creation of New York City’s first community-based school for justice system-involved youth. She most recently served New Orleans youth by developing young leadership opportunities at Liberty’s Kitchen as well as connecting them to a host of resources throughout the city.


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Leo Gorman

Farm Manager

T. 504 616 1777
leo@growdatyouthfarm.org

Leo Gorman earned his BA in Anthropology and Latin American Studies from Tulane University in 2000. He worked for three years in Mexico and Colombia with Witness for Peace, working with partners to educate U.S. citizens about the impacts of free trade policy on civil society and the environment. He earned his MA in History at the University of New Orleans in 2009 and has co-authored several published articles and book chapters on indigenous rights, popular education and immigration. Leo taught social studies at Warren Easton High School and ran market gardens near Xavier University in New Orleans. He has interned multiple seasons on three organic vegetable farms and is thrilled to be part of a project that merges his passions for experiential education, social justice and sustainable agriculture.


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Glenn Caston

Program Manager

T. 504 307 1200
glenn@growdatyouthfarm.org

Glenn Caston is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana. He studied mathematics at Tulane University and secondary education at Our Lady of Holy Cross College. Glenn's desire is to provide space that promotes equitable learning experiences to the young people of New Orleans. His professional roots are in the public education sector where he served as a teacher, instructional coach, data coordinator, and curriculum specialist. Working as a high school math teacher, Glenn noticed a lack of advanced opportunities for the students he served. As a result, Glenn teamed up with members of the Cowen Institute in an effort to provide advanced placement courses for the students of Algiers. Glenn has also served in the capacity of a learning team leader at Greater New Orleans Teach For America, where he provided professional development opportunities for first-year corp members. He continues his work at Grow Dat Youth Farm in the capacity of program manager. 


Clara Lyle

Social Enterprise Manager

T. 917 846 7418
clara@growdatyouthfarm.org

Clara Lyle is a native New Yorker with experience in kitchens, in classrooms, and on farms. She came to New Orleans in 2013 to teach first grade, and in her classroom, she saw firsthand the food and nutrition barriers affecting her students' success. Ready to dive into food systems, Clara spent a year working as a line cook at Cochon Restaurant while also volunteering as an Ag Apprentice at Grow Dat. In early 2015, she took off across the country with roving-restaurant Outstanding in the Field, where as the social media manager, photographer, and expeditor, she met dozens of farmers and chefs across the country. She returned home in 2016 and is thrilled to be working with Grow Dat at the intersection of her passions for local, sustainable agriculture, food justice, and education. Clara graduated from Cornell University in 2012 with a degree in Religious History and Global Health. She is an avid bicyclist and fan of groovy tunes.


Kevin Connell

Education Coordinator

T. 850 240 3048
kevin@growdatyouthfarm.org

Kevin Connell is a teacher, farmer, and musician from Valparaiso, Florida. Starting out in education as a paraprofessional, he has taught bilingual social studies to new immigrants, ESL in Indonesia and Tanzania, special education science in New York, and adult education in New Orleans. As a novice urban farmer trying to grow vegetables with teenagers in Battery Park, Kevin discovered the power of farming as a tool for social justice education. He is happy to be back among live oaks and pelicans and to be teaching outdoors, helping the young folks of Grow Dat to question our food system and envision more just and sustainable alternatives. He holds a master’s degree from Teachers College and is a certified special education and social studies teacher. 


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Sean Winford

Assistant Farm Manager

sean@growdatyouthfarm.org

Sean Winford is 20 years old and has lived in Louisiana most of his life. Coming from a military family, Sean was born in Kreuznach, Germany, and moved to New Orleans at the age of 3. Sean was introduced to Grow Dat by his school counselor during his junior year at Carver Collegiate Academy. Sean took the opportunity to pursue a job at Grow Dat as a way to learn more about sustainable farming, better his skills in public speaking, and to become a better leader. After his first year as a crew member, Sean became an Assistant Crew Leader during the 2015-2016 program year. During his third year at Grow Dat, Sean served in the role of Head Crew Leader and Farm Fellow. In this position, Sean helped lead young people through the fall and spring leadership programs. Now in his 4th year of employment at Grow Dat, Sean will now fill the role of Assistant Farm Manager where he will assist and help oversee the upcoming expansion of the farm. In the future, Sean plans to travel overseas to Europe to study naturopathic medicine.

 

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Kaya Jones

Field Trip and Alumni Coordinator

kaya@growdatyouthfarm.org

Kaya Jones grew up in North Florida where she was able to enjoy beautiful beaches and gorgeous trees. She graduated from Florida A&M University with a bachelor's degree in Environmental Science. While in college she founded a student community garden and worked with different organizations to help fight environmental injustices in the Sunshine State. After graduating college in 2016 Kaya worked as an Environmental Educator at the Mcdowell Environmental Center in the Bankhead National Forest in Alabama. Kaya was excellent in her position of Crew Leader and Farm Fellow last year, and she is super excited to now be working at Grow Dat as Field Trip and Alumni Coordinator. She is thrilled to continue to learn about farming in Louisiana and the amazing culture of New Orleans.


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Cassie Reeves

Communications and Events Coordinator

T. 678 425 8245
cassie@growdatyouthfarm.org

Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Cassie strives to foster harmony between her urban surroundings and creating green space to cultivate fresh, healthy produce. During her tenure at the University of Georgia, she earned dual BA's in Advertising and Psychology with an emphasis in Graphic Design. She enjoys working with her hands, whether it be Photoshop media design or wielding a circular saw to build a vertical planter on her small patio in the city. Cassie's love of the land runs deep despite her urban upbringing. Her latest endeavors have included managing and event planning at the state's oldest operating bed and breakfast on beautiful Amelia Island, Florida, and managing the dining room at Lake Hotel in Yellowstone National Park. Having worked for over a decade in hospitality, her appreciation of the culinary arts and access to quality ingredients serve as the backbone for her belief in a just food system. She also serves as a copywriter for Southbound Brewing Company and can be found kayaking the bayou, planning her next travel adventure, or photographing vibrant New Orleans during her free time. 

Travis Cleaver

Site Coordinator

T. 504 957 7706
travis@growdatyouthfarm.org

Travis Cleaver is a landscape architect and former business owner. Travis moved to New Orleans in 2002 from his family farm in West Virginia, and is happy to again take part in the farm life at Grow Dat. He studied architecture and permaculture design through Tulane University, and in 2007 started the landscape architecture firm EcoUrban Landscaping. Travis's work at EcoUrban focused on sustainable design and installation, native and edible plants, and forward-thinking water management, all of which Travis draws from in his work maintaining and expanding Grow Dat Youth Farm. Travis also enjoys carpentry, welding, drawing, hiking, live music and all manner of outdoor activities.


Grow Dat Fellows

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Alex Sanders

Farm Fellow

alex@growdatyouthfarm.org

Alexander Sanders was born in Louisiana but moved to Tennessee after the hurricane. After a few years Alex moved back to New Orleans to finish school. As a junior attending G.W. Carver Collegiate high school he found his first job at Grow Dat. As a crew member working in the field and learning about sustainable agriculture he fell in love with the life of agriculture. He returned to Grow Dat to complete another year as an assistant crew leader to help teach youth like himself about the importance of agriculture and social justice. In his third year with the organization Alex has taken on the role of Farm Fellow. In the future Alex hopes to continue the lifestyle of agriculture and start his own recycling company.

Maggie Mullins

Crew Leader

maggie@growdatyouthfarm.org

Maggie Mullins grew up in San Antonio, Texas and spent her summers backpacking in the rocky mountains of Colorado, where she developed her deep love of nature. She graduated from Tulane University in 2018 with a degree in Communications. While in college, she served on a peer-run 24/7 hotline that provided support for victims of sexual assault and worked as a hostess at the historic Caribbean Room in the Ponchartrain Hotel. She considers these experiences to be key players in developing her passion for social justice and her belief in the unifying power of food. Maggie deeply believes that delicious, wholesome food provides necessary emotional nourishment, and believes that accessing this nourishment is a human right, not a privilege. She is beyond excited for the opportunity to serve as a Crew Leader and to work toward providing that emotional nourishment to more New Orleanians. 

 

Jonshell Johnson

Crew Leader

jonshell@growdatyouthfarm.org

Jonshell Johnson is an alumni of International High School of New Orleans and Aveda Institute South. She was introduced to Grow Dat after four years with Backyard Gardeners Network of the Lower Ninth Ward. Jonshell shares a passion for nature and   wants to learn how to use sustainable resources. In the future, she hopes to gather neighborhoods around local issues to empower and redesign community.

 

Jessie Zelisko

Crew Leader

jessie@growdatyouthfarm.org

As a prison abolitionist and climate justice activist, Jessie is excited to fuse her work fighting mass incarceration and pipeline infrastructure with cultivating food sovereignty and youth empowerment. While completing her B.A. in International Development and Social Change and Women’s and Gender Studies at Clark University, Jessie interned at several food justice organizations, leading her to write her senior capstone paper titled Whiteness in the Food Justice Movement. Through her food justice work, Jessie witnessed the devastation mass incarceration has caused Black families and communities. This led her to work on the roots of racism as seen manifested in the system of mass incarceration as the Office Manager at The First 72 +, an organization founded and led by formerly incarcerated folks that helps people thrive in their transition home from prison. Radicalized in the Unitarian Universalist youth movement, Jessie is exited to support Grow Dat youth in claiming their power as activists and agents of social change. She is passionate about collective living and can often be found with beloved community co-visioning queer utopian futures rooted in collective liberation.

Najee Finner

Crew Leader

najee@growdatyouthfarm.org

Najee is a highly motivated educator striving for ways to impact young people's lives as a teacher, leader and life coach. Najee is currently a sophomore at the Southern University at New Orleans as an Educational Studies major with a minor in Business Management. Najee is driven by seeing young people develop into the future leaders we need to make the right changes and impacts. Najee's motto is plant the seed and allow it to manifest. The reason I chose Grow Dat was because I value farm etiquette and educational team building and growth. I know that Grow Dat will impact my life and I will make impacts at Grow Dat. Grow Dat provides education, farm life, team building and self-growth for all.