Valley Crest Preserve Staff
Ashley joins Valley Crest as the Executive Director. She graduated from West Virginia University and began working as the Executive Director at the Conscious Harvest Collaborative in West Virginia. Ashley's passion and inspiration to fight for food justice in her home state of New Jersey brought her to Valley Crest Farm & Preserve. Ashley is excited to work with local food pantries and NORWESCAP to expand on and innovate the farm's produce donation efforts.
Assistant Farm Manager
Agriculture has always played a large role in Jake's life. He grew up on his family's farm in nearby Flemington, NJ where he helped to grow Christmas trees, strawberries, sweet corn and other crops.He bolstered his strong interest in agriculture with involvement in the Hunterdon County 4-H program. Jake followed up his practical learning with an education at Delaware Valley College where he majored in Horticulture with a concentration in Commercial Crop Production. Jake thanks his father and grandfather for instilling a lifelong passion for agriculture in him.
Sara joined the Valley Crest team in the spring of 2018. As a student at Rutgers University, she studied Plant Science and Agroecology. While at the University, Sara dedicated herself to learning about crop maintenance through an intensive internship at The Student Sustainable Farm at Rutgers and volunteering at the school's greenhouses. Sara brings her knowledge of CSA management and vegetable production to Valley Crest to provide our customers with high-quality, naturally-grown vegetables.
Butch has been engaged in farming and agriculture for most of his life. His specialty has been horticultural practices in fruit production. As farming practices change over time, he now puts into practice sustainability efforts (less input) and more nutrient recycling (manure composting) to grow the best fruit and vegetables in the area! Butch says, “the good spirit and cooperation of my coworkers at Valley Crest allows me to adapt to the ever changing nature of agriculture.”
Rachel McGovern joins Valley Crest as an educator and naturalist. With a focus on clean water and sustainability, Rachel is excited to bring fun, hands- on activities to families, scouts and students. Rachel received her B.S. from Rutgers University in 2014 and spent the following year as an Americorps New Jersey Watershed Ambassador. Through this program, Rachel discovered the joys of environmental education while completing stream assessments and projects designed to reduce non- point source pollution in New Jersey’s water. Rachel is excited to move forward bringing new faces and programs to Valley Crest Farm while focusing on programs that celebrate our connection to the environment.
Peter has been passionate about working with the Earth since his youth. After studying Philosophy at an Environmental Liberal Arts college in Vermont, he continued on to work in landscaping, nursery, and construction, before coming to Valley Crest. At the farm, he has led Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and special needs groups from the orchard to the kitchen, and through its various walking trails, has deeply enjoyed learning the intricacies of season-round orchard management.
Board of Directors
Devon has earned her B.S. degree in Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources from Oklahoma State University. Throughout her youth, she worked extensively with her family to develop the grounds and buildings that now comprise Valley Crest Farm and Preserve. We appreciate her history in this community and long time devotion to the vision and mission of the Preserve. With her background in farming, excellent skills in marketing and outreach, along with her passion for helping others, Devon is a tremendous asset to the board of trustees.
Dr. Richard Wellbrock
Dr. Richard Wellbrock is the retired President of Wellbrock, Inc., a management consulting firm and a certified member of the Institute of Management Consultants. He was the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Industry Leaders Fund, an SEC registered mutual fund, and served as Chairman of Hilltop Community Bank based in Summit from 1985 to 2013. Dick served as a Trustee, Vice-Chairman, and retired as Chairman of the Board at Raritan Valley Community College. He currently serves as a member of the Governor's Council on Higher Education. He is an Eagle Scout, a past Scoutmaster in Watchung, and presently serves as "grandpa" for a Cub Scout Pack in Tewksbury. His knowledge of financing and education will no doubt be a tremendous asset to Valley Crest as we move toward financial sustainability.
A transplant from Texas, Brooke B. Sellas, lives in Hunterdon County and loves living in the Garden State. She is an in-the-trenches digital marketer & Founder of B Squared Media, blossoming blogger, and a purveyor of psychographics. Her marketing mantra is “Think Conversation, Not Campaign.” She hopes to offer her incredible marketing talents to Valley Crest and keep the community informed about our mission and programs. Be sure to give her a shout on Twitter.
Dr. Frank Greenagel brings years of experience in higher education and local government to board deliberations—a dozen years on the Planning Board in Tewksbury followed a term on the Township Committee there including serving as Mayor in the late 1970s. For 18 years he was engaged as a Hunterdon representative on the Board of Raritan Valley Community College. Greenagel earned a PhD. at the University of Minnesota, where he was a member of the faculty; he also taught at the University of Colorado before leaving the academic world for work as an industrial psychologist, and later, a book publisher. He spends his time now in photography and writing scholarly books on the early architecture of New Jersey.
Mike Beneduce Jr. is the vineyard manager and winemaker at Beneduce Vineyards in Pittstown. A fourth generation farmer, he took his family's legacy as home winemakers a step further by studying grape growing and winemaking, graduating from Cornell University with a B.S. in Viticulture and Enology in 2010. He is highly involved in promoting Hunterdon County as a unique tourism destination for agriculture related businesses. “I hope to apply my expertise in sustainable farming to Valley Crest and ensure that we're utilizing each unique parcel of the farm to its highest potential. There is great value in our educational programs for families and scouts.”
Tom is a Scouting commissioner, a scoutmaster and has extensive experience in the Boy scouts of America as well as various youth groups. Tom provides guidance to align the mission of Valley Crest Preserve to serve the needs of the local youth organizations. In addition to overseeing the Merit badge educational program, Tom helps coordinate Eagle Scout projects and provides guidance to youth who perform them. Tom has a BA in Business Administration from Phoenix University, and currently works for a multinational corporation as a global project manager. Tom is a certified project manager and holds numerous IT certifications.
Robert J. Shanahan, Jr., a partner with the firm of Shanahan & Voigt, LLC in Flemington, has always been a farmer at heart. His practice includes estate planning, powers of attorney, elder law, guardianships and probate. Bob has been a member of the New Jersey and Pennsylvania state bars since 1985 and received his law degree from Temple University School of Law. In addition to membership in the New Jersey State Bar Association, he is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, the Hunterdon Medical Center Ethics Committee. Bob also has extensive nonprofit experience and is a former Eagle Scout and current Scoutmaster Emeritus with Boy Scout Troop 121 in Clinton Township.
Valley Crest is proud to include the following individuals on our Advisory Board.
Dr. Jay Kelly
Dr. Kelly joins us from Raritan Valley Community College. As an Associate Professor of Biology at the school, Dr. Kelly leads his students in field research on topics ranging from deer populations to tidal debris.
Bob Kloss, a previous president of the Northwest New Jersey Beekeeper's Association, works closely with staff to coordinate all beekeeping efforts at the farm and assists with educational programs and events.
John Kluthe is a Soil Conservationist at the National Resources Conservation Service in Frenchtown. His expertise on nutrient and soil management is valued by the staff of Valley Crest.
Matthew joins our Advisory Board with a strong background in fundraising and development. He is the Chair of the Fundraising and Development Committee at the farm, as well.
Lauren leads brand development, strategic communications, campaign development, and community building through partnerships for nonprofit organizations. Lauren currently oversees external engagement for the 14th Street Y, a Jewish Community Center in NYC.