OUR Sunflower Farm TEAM
Bren Frisch, (Co-Founder)
Bren is one of the founding co-owners of Sunflower Farm in Longmont, Colorado. She was raised on a farm in Northern Ohio. After a wide array of experiences which included education, business, travel and starting a family, she returned to her rural roots. It was there at Sunflower that facets of her past magically came together—art and design, children, beauty and spirituality. Sunflower Farm has been referred to as “a paradise for one’s soul”.
She confirms this: “What a blessed life—to not only walk this dirt, but also to be Sunflower’s gatekeeper for this tiny spec of time.” She is mother to three fantastic teenagers: Anna, Tony and Max.
John Roberts, (Co-Founder)
John is one of the founding co-owners of Sunflower Farm in Longmont, Colorado. He is a Colorado Native from Debeque. John has a BA in English. His diverse career includes teaching, construction and farming. He is every child’s super hero (especially to his four children, three who have grown up at Sunflower) and loves his educational role at the farm.
John is largely responsible for the painting of this “sunflower canvas” that impacts everyone who enters. His innate sense of artistically transforming space has left its signature to say the least.
Emilie Hilgers, (Educational Director Sprouthouse Preschool and School-Age Homeschool)
I have always loved lambs. I had one when I was little on my rural hobby farm in Minnesota. They intrigue me with their absolute joy of being alive. I want to do that. I started out that way, but traditional education did a number on me but I didn't know (or my parents didn't) there was any other way. Perhaps a softer, more organic way of learning?
And I loved littles, of all kind both animal and human. After high school I started my college career in Education. After 20+ years of teaching and directing in various preschool programs, and kind of becoming disenfranchised, I landed at Sunflower Farm.It called me to a place with kids that I had never explored. I knew I was home. I knew there was more, just like that little girl knew way back when.And I am so happy to offer this to not so little people again, so we can grow together in a very natural, organic way.
I love my 17 year old son, my cat Maybelle, my family, natural health remedies, outdoors, watching and learning about human behavior, cooking, and biking.
Liz Napp (Farm Administrator)
Liz and her family have been a member of our Sunflower Farm Community since 2009. All 3 of her daughters have attended the Sprout House Preschool program, as the farm for her family has been a magical and influential part of their childhood. Liz has a Master of Arts and a Bachelor in Communications. She has lived and worked in many different areas, including teaching at the International Studies Program in the Netherlands at the University of Maastricht, teaching adult level English in Aachen, Germany, managing the recruiting department for a project management company based in Montreal, Canada and being the international office manager at Robert Morris University.
She and her family live in Niwot, Colorado and she is very excited to share her love and passion for Sunflower farm with new and existing farm students, as well as developing the future visions of their farm based programs.
Kyla Ownbey, (Lead Teacher)
Kyla is thrilled to be continuing her teaching career for the Sprouthouse Preschool Program this school year! Kyla grew up on the Western Slope of Colorado, where she developed her love and respect for the beautiful outdoors. Kyla’s favorite memories as a child are in nature with friends and her brother building forts, catching bugs, climbing trees, and watching crawdads at the irrigation ditch. This is why Kyla cares about the importance of play and connecting children with nature. Through play, children are able to experience curiosity, joy, and wonder about the world around them.
After high school Kyla moved to Fort Collins and received a B.S in Human Development and Family Studies. After graduation she started working in a preschool classroom and it was at that point that she fell in love with teaching and returned to school to earn her Masters Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Northern Colorado. Kyla worked at Sunflower Farm this summer as a camp counselor and fell in love with the magic of the farm and the unique learning environment it offers to children.
Lisa Thoreson (Lead Teacher)
Lisa could not be more excited to work for the Sprouthouse Preschool Program. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Studies from Park University in 2011, Lisa quicklymoved to Colorado to explore the mountains and begin a career in working with children. In 2016 she furthered her education and took courses to receive her Early Childhood TeachingCertificate. After the birth of her son, Lisa found an even greater love for the wonder a child offers the world around them.
Her own love for nature was highly nurtured as a child with the freedom to run and play in the dense woods behind her childhood home. This is why she believes that every child should be given the opportunity to learn through exploration and discovery, and that the greatest gift we can give is to let them be children.
Jill Willams, (Lead Teacher)
A native of Illinois, Jill moved to Colorado 20 years ago. She has taught various elementary grade levels in the Windy City. The past 12 years, Jill has worked in a combination of roles (SPED intensive, Program Para and Specialist) for Kindergarten Enrichment—an experiential, play and project- based program for the Boulder Valley School District. Raising two college aged children who fashion their lifestyles around 4H, FFA, and mountain biking, the Williams family now homestead with Sterling and Spangle (2 rescue donkey), Carmela (the dairy heifer), Chinook, Cheyenne, Dumpling and Tallulah (the hens)- plus some other fun furry farm friends, on the Eastern Plains.
Jill has always considered nature and the outdoors an extension of the classroom. Ironically, the Sunflower is her favorite flower. To work at SproutHouse on Sunflower farm; however, is considered EDUTOPIA!
Aylyn Yalaz, (Lead Teacher)
Aylyn loves the outdoors, children, animals and music! When she found Sunflower Farm, she instantly felt a home. It’s is a place where she can combine and celebrate all of her passions! She has thought long and hard on how she can best use her skills and talents to create a more peaceful world. She has come to know that teaching young children how to learn, to love, and sing together is the single most important way she can create a more accepting culture that celebrates diversity and inclusion for all, including our animals and our beautiful earth. When she is not teaching children, you can find Aylyn playing with her band, Positive Nancy and the Deep Dive or kayaking down any whitewater she can find!
Aylyn also offers private voice and guitar lessons to school age children up to 14 years old to at her home in Gunbarrel. She has two beautiful, fluffy Maine Coon kitties and a husband who she adores.
Beth Prange (Lead Teacher)
Beth has midwest roots, with extended family in several states so enjoyed family road trips during childhood as well as open pod self paced learning in elementary school in Janesville, WI
After earning a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from UW-Stevens Point, Beth and her sister moved to the Twin Cities. While there, she married, had 2 sons and ran licensed childcare from her home. Upon relocating through husbands work to Longmont she worked in the svvsd in para positions and as a substitute preferring special ed and gaining valuable professional experience.
In her free time Beth enjoys gardening playing flute and piano home improvements (especially demo) and making soup.
Beth is enthusiastic to be a part of the team at Sunflower Farm interacting with the environment and embracing the teachable moments.
Bloom where you are planted!
Mary Loehr (Teacher Assistant)
Sunflower Farm is honored to have Mary currently a student at Naropa University, where she is pursuing a BA in Early Childhood Education and a BA in Environmental Studies. Since leaving her childhood home in the midwest, Mary has spent three years working on farms and sustainability projects across the United States and South America. Mary is passionate about nature-based education and local food systems. She hopes to spend her life helping our society to live in greater harmony with nature.
Some of Mary’s favorite things include playing with kids, gardening, flower arranging, making music, backpacking, yoga, riding her bike, homemade dumplings, and spending time with her pet hedgehog, Gustavo. She is excited to be spending time at the Sprouthouse!
Rose Valentine(School-Age Teacher)
Rose was born and raised in Colorado. She is the mother of five and lives on a small farm with her husband, her three youngest children, horses, a donkey, goats, chickens, a dog, a cat and a guinea pig. Rose’s professional back ground is in Education and has taught elementary age students, specializing in art. In her free time she is an avid trail runner and loves to read.