Thea Klein-Mayer Is Highland Center Local Foods Coordinator

The Highland Center is a non-profit business incubator located in Monterey, and serves to spur economic and community development. Many of the Center’s programs involve local foods which led to the creation of a Local Food Coordinator position. Thea Klein- Mayer, a Washington DC native who holds a degree in environmental science and design from Northwestern is currently serving in that position, and described her duties. “The Highland Center does a lot of things around local foods, and so I’m helping run all of those different programs. One of the bigger ones is the Faces of Farmers initiative, which is a website and the media surrounding it devoted to connecting consumers with their producers and their food. And in addition, I’ll be helping coordinate the school garden, in partnership with 4-H and extension and the county schools. And running local food events, like the Maple Fest dinners and the Taste of Highland, that The Highland Center puts on every year.” Ms. Klein-Mayer talked about what brought her to Highland County. “I was looking to get my hands in the dirt – I was really interested in agriculture, definitely from a sustainability standpoint, and producing my own food and food for my community.” This led her to the Allegheny Mountain Institute, which she described. “It’s a experiential fellowship, up on Allegheny Mountain, 30 minutes from town. Along with eight other people, I spent the summer learning how to grow food sustainably, and kind of practice stewardship of the land. I’m in the second year of my fellowship with the Allegheny Mountain Institute, and in the second year, we’re placed at non-profits in the region, so I was placed here at The Highland Center. “I’m having a great time – it’s been cold, but I spent five years in Chicago before this, so not the worst.” Ms. Klein-Mayer hopes to accomplish much during her tenure at the Center. “My goal is to advocate for local foods. I’m hoping to encourage the use of more local food in all of our events, and support local producers that way.” Despite her education, drive and ambition, one goal may be very difficult to accomplish. “Main goal – get Scott Smith to eat more local food.”

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Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

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