Matt Davis – Co-Director of Children’s Programming

Matt has over 17 years of experience as a farm-based educator. He has worked in the Place-Based Learning Center (PBLC) since the fall of 1999, when he became an intern in the Visiting Students Program. After finishing his internship, Matt had the opportunity to stay on with the Program as a permanent staff member. He has served the PBLC in many ways over the years, including managing the children’s gardening activities, waterfront safety at the pond, managing the Field Camp for teenagers in the summer, and codirecting the Visiting Students Program. Matt’s interest in place based learning was cultivated while he studied Sociology and Environmental Studies at the University of California San Diego. Email Matt.


Joe Harris – Co-Director of Children’s Programming

Joe lived and worked at The Camphill School in Pennsylvania for almost 20 years, splitting time between administrative activities, life sharing, and teaching. He was involved in the work of the Camphill Association of North America (CANA) for over ten years, serving as president for three of those, from 2017-2020. Originally from England, Joe moved to the United States in 2003 after earning a Bachelor’s degree in history with a minor American studies. Joe lives a stone’s throw from Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School with his wife and three children, just up the road in Ghent. Email Joe.


Indigo Ocean – Program and Day Camp Manager

With a long history in both the arts and special education, Indigo’s path ultimately turned towards Waldorf education. She served on the Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School faculty for many years, receiving her Waldorf teacher training certification from Hawthorne Valley Alkion Center. She is now able to combine all of her passions for art, education, farming, and food in her role at the Place-Based Learning Center. Email Indigo.

Jae Vyskocil – Residential Program and Summer Camp Manager

After spending her formative years in Chicagoland, Jae studied International Development and Peace & Conflict Studies at Portland State University in Oregon. During her studies, she became especially interested in regenerative agriculture and experiential education as tools for peacebuilding.

As the Residential Program and Summer Camp Manager, Jae is excited to combine her interests in farming, arts, and education to foster hands-on learning experiences for children and teens. She is currently a student in the Waldorf teacher training at the Alkion Center and is eager to develop her skills as a farm-based educator.

When she’s not on the farm, you can find Jae riding her bike, skiing in the Berkshires, or illustrating the local flora and fauna.

Email Jae.

Nina Barry – Office Coordinator, Program Manager, Summer Camp Manager

Nina grew up in Pennsylvania and attended school for Art & Design, then Alternative Education. She first came to Hawthorne Valley as an intern for the Visiting Students Program in 2012. Nina went on to complete coursework for foundations in Waldorf Education, working in early childhood at Mountain Laurel Waldorf School and then returning to Hawthorne Valley as a Program Manager in 2019. She transitioned to the role of Office Coordinator and Program Manager in 2022. Nina spends her time on and off the farm as a photographer, designer, muralist, artist, gardener, parent and caring for the chickens. Email Nina.


Michele Connors-Kowalski, Dining Hall Manager

Michele’s first trip to Hawthorne Valley was in 2005, as a visitor with her family to our annual Fall Festival while expecting her youngest child, Charlotte. Little did she know what fate had in store for her! The farm, biodynamics, and Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School made such an impression, that she and her family decided to find a way to a simpler life. The Kowalski clan became members of the Hawthorne Valley Farm family in 2008 when Michael, her husband, left his corporate job to pursue farming full time. He became a farmer here that same year. The family soon relocated to Harlemville. Michele continued her career as a commercial photographer on a part-time basis while raising their daughters on the farm and sending them to Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School. She was also the go-to cook for the farm’s new learning center for special “day on the farm” events. She cherishes this time in their lives, the wonderful people they met and the simplicity and seasonality of it all. In 2011, they decided to start their own family farm and Full Field Farm was born. Through this, she realized her love of farming was really a love of food and cooking. Michele began selling breads and pies at their markets, catering small events and a new career was born! She came full circle in 2014, when she joined the PBLC team as Dining Hall Manager. Michele loves cooking with clean, local, seasonal foods, and enjoys the challenges of providing these types of meals for our programs. Email Michele