SEEDS runs day-to-day with the support of an energetic staff dedicated to Durham’s next generation. 

Meet the Staff

Heather Hill

Program Coordinator

Heather Hill has been developing and leading programs at SEEDS since 2010.  Last year, she took some time off to hike the 500 mile Camino de Santiago in Spain.  She also recently moved out to the country to see more stars, hear less sirens, eat a lot of peaches, and run in the woods with her dog Murray. Though Heather is from the desert of Tucson, Arizona…she can’t get enough of the ecology, food culture, and four season beauty of North Carolina.  Heather is pleased to be a part of this next chapter in the story of SEEDS and share her excitement for growing and cooking great food with all who walk through the garden gate.


Phone: 919-683-1197 ext. 4

Lara Goodrich Ezor

Operations & Volunteer Coordinator

When Lara moved from Boston to Durham in 2016, she was eager to put down roots and make connections in her new community. She began volunteering at SEEDS and quickly fell in love with the garden, the people, the mission and the values of the organization. Prior to SEEDS, Lara received her M.S. in Food Policy and Applied Nutrition from Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and worked many different areas of the food system. Outside of SEEDS, Lara teaches yoga and BollyX, a Bollywood-inspired, cardio-fitness dance class. She’s passionate about cooking, writing, and outdoor adventure. In 2011, Lara hiked the Appalachian Trail, and in 2015, she completed the Pacific Crest Trail. 


Phone: 919-683-1197 ext. 1 

Kenneth Strickland

Camp Director & Garden and Chef Teacher

Kenneth Strickland has taught at SEEDS for more than three years. He has seen the children grow, evolve, and transform into a family of gardeners (and chefs). “I’ve seen them build the wall around the garden, learn how to identify plant and animals, and plant all types of fruits and vegetables. I love exploring the garden with the children and extracting the teachable moments,” he says. Kenneth attended as an undergraduate at Duke University where he obtained a degree in psychology with a minor in education in 2015.  

Herb Thornton

Garden and Chef Teacher

Herb has worked in the before- and after-school programs at Hope Valley Elementary School, motivating and engaging the students in academic, social and professional experiences they might not otherwise get at school. Passionate about children, his move to Eno Valley Elementary School as an educator for children with different learning styles was a natural fit. Herb studied English and sociology at North Carolina Central University, and now, in his free time, he cooks and reads modernist fiction and poetry. (He’s also a regular participant in the annual Great Durham Pun Challenge!) As a garden and chef educator at SEEDS, Herb helps engage young people in growing and cooking food as life skills; they learn to care for the environment, conserve natural resources, build confidence and foster teamwork.

Jeff Howell

Executive Director

Jeff Howell joins SEEDS after four years at Southern School of Energy and Sustainability and E.K. Powe Elementary School in Durham where he worked as an exceptional children’s teacher and case manager. He earned an undergraduate degree in environmental science from Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland, and a master’s degree in public health from the University of Pittsburgh, where he studied behavioral and community health science. He believes that hands-on learning is a necessary tool for all students to remain engaged and understand new concepts. With a persistently positive outlook, Jeff brings to SEEDS a commitment to community building, collaboration and social justice.


Phone: 919.683.1197 ext. 8

Liza Engstrom

Garden Assistant

Liza guides our volunteer groups on Fridays and Saturdays and helps keep our garden bountiful and beautiful. When she is not at SEEDS, she consults with an employee wellness company in Raleigh, and operates her own laughter yoga company, Health and Happiness Align (HAHA). Promoting health and well-being is her passion in life. At SEEDS, she pursues this passion further by taking part in physically and mentally nourishing activities: working the land, collaborating with others and eating what we sow together!