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Kayla maclachlan

executive director


Kayla MacLachlan is an AMI alumnus from upstate New York. She graduated from the State University of New York College at Fredonia with a BA in English-Adolescent Education and is a graduate of the Association Montessori Internationale Orientation to Adolescent Studies, completing her coursework at the Hershey-Montessori Farm School in Huntsburg, Ohio. 

Falling in love with Highland County and the work of AMI, after graduating from the Fellowship program in 2013, she lived on the Allegheny Farm and worked as AMI's Program and Fellowship Director for several years. Since the, her passions for food, connection, and community have paved the way for her continued food-focused work in the education and hospitality industries. In addition to her role as AMI's Executive Director, Kayla works part-time as the Hospitality Manager for an internationally-touring rock and roll band. On or off the road, she enjoys gardening, playing Irish music, writing, hiking, practicing yoga, studying nutrition and cooking fresh, wholesome plant-based food for all to enjoy.

Kayla MacLachlan
Allegheny Farm Facility Caretaker Paxton Grant. A thin, white mail with glasses. He has a mustache and goatee. He is facing the camera and wearing a blue shirt.




Paxton grew up in Waynesboro and then received his Bachelor of Science in Environmental Resource Management at Virginia Tech before serving as an officer in the Army for over 20 years. In 1999, Paxton moved to Highland County, where he has worked with his grandparents and cousin on the 225-acre family farm in Hightown. He has also been a Communications Officer & Communications Supervisor at the Highland County Sheriff’s Office and an Extension Technician with the Virginia Cooperative Extension.

Tim Hare

Allegheny farm & Highland Program operations


As a new arrival to Highland County, Tim is excited to dig his hands into Allegheny soil. He joins AMI by way of other education and land-based programs that he has helped support and steward in Colorado, Bolivia, and southern Patagonia such as Outward Bound, Where There Be Dragons, and Groundwork. He also started and runs Wonder: Nature Connection with his wife, Shannon. Having worked in outdoor and intercultural education for many years, Tim is eager to work with projects that build regenerative culture in an increasingly degenerating world. He believes that hyper-local, earth-based education and community-building are essential to re-weaving frayed connections.

He and Shannon, along with their two kiddos Celia and Mason, recently moved to the area from Colorado, where they have been based for 11 years while maintaining a frequently nomadic existence around the United States, Baja California, Nepal, Thailand, Peru, Bolivia, Uruguay, Patagonia, and Guatemala. You can commonly find them climbing rocks, crawling through humus looking for mushrooms, listening for familiar bird calls, hugging large trees, or in the kitchen cooking or fermenting.

Time Hare with Allegheny Farm and Highland Program Operations. A headshot of Tim facing the camera with a smile. He has short, black hair and is wearing a blue jacket.
Shannon Harriman, Allegheny Farm and Highland Program Operations. A headshot of Shannon facing slightly to the right. She has wavy blonde hair slightly past her shoulders. She is wearing a black shirt.

shannon harriman

ALLEGHENY FARM & Highland program operations


Shannon has always been drawn to the temperate, broadleaf forests of Appalachia and is excited to call AMI home for a bit. Shannon's love of wild spaces brought her to the study of ecology, where traditional academia trained her eyes and mind in the scientific method. It was her long journey through the folded landscapes of Nepal that offered her a point of intersection between science and spirituality. In the shadows of the Himalayas she was able to observe and participate in an intact and thriving indigenous community, rich with wisdom and ancient ways of living in connection to the earth. 

Professionally trained as a teacher, she has been a cross-cultural guide for more than two decades, facilitating international experiential programs for students and offering trainings to organizations and schools. Most recently her work is that of a nature connection mentor, running summer programs for children that foster a reverent and reciprocal relationship with the natural world. Shannon believes deeply in honoring this precious human life and the earth that sustains us all.


Administrative Assistant
nd Bookkeeper

Rick comes to AMI with over 30 years of accounting and business management experience. He worked with grants, capital budgets, and accounting software implementation at the University of Virginia. He also put in many years of corporate accounting at the former Rocco, Inc, poultry company in Harrisonburg. A graduate of James Madison University, Rick originally hails from Tidewater, Virginia, but has developed deep roots here in the Shenandoah Valley. When not trying to get on the golf course, his other passion is training, showing, and loving his herd of English Springer Spaniels.

Rick Gatlin, Allegheny Mountain Institute Administrative Assistant and Bookkeeper. An older white man smiling directly at the camera. He has a goatee and short white hair. He is wearing a striped button up shirt.
Allegheny Mountain Institute Outreach Manager Sarah Fitzgerald. She has shoulder length curly blonde hair and black rimmed glasses. She has various nostril and ear piercings. She smiles at the camera. She is wearing a red cardigan atop a black shirt.

Sarah fitzgerald

outreach manager


Sarah manages Allegheny Mountain Institute's online presence, from updating the website to responding to social media inquiries. She has experience in administrative work, technology and social media presence, and a million other unrelated things. When she's not working, she enjoys reading a book while cuddling with her two cats, spending time with friends and family, and attending live music with her husband, Cameron.

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