Melissa Steele (Founder, Chair) is an artist, designer, and organic farmer.
She founded Little Rose Nature School in Watkinsville, Georgia in 2014 where she and her husband, Michael have lived since 1993.
Her lifelong love of children and an easy way with them called her to create this unique educational adventure.
As an artist she has the ability to spark imagination in children and adults, and as a natural leader, all are drawn to her free-spirited approach to learning.
Her 30 year interior design career, heading up her own firm, taught her innovative project and personnel management skills. Her design expertise has been featured on numerous television shows and her designs and advisory columns have been featured in national publications.
She and Michael created their small farm, Little Rose Organics, in 2015. They sell their organic vegetables and free-range eggs to local chefs as well as a network of friends.
Melissa’s passion for forming Buds of Little Rose nonprofit was an avenue to conserve the land she calls home and was sparked by the desire to find a conservation solution to the large tract which adjoins the 10 acres of their farm. She hopes to shield this space from further residential development that has flooded the area in the last 25 years. This land, previously a cotton farm, has many unique historic features and is graced by two beautiful creeks and a treasured wetlands which are tributaries to Georgia’s largest watershed, the Upper Oconee.
Michael Steele (Vice Chair, Treasurer) is a professional musician, producer, and organic farmer.
He tours the United States and overseas with singers Randall Bramblett, John Berry, and Chuck Leavell, to name a few.
His production credits are vast and his much sought after studio and television performances grace hundreds of recordings created in Nashville, Atlanta, and the surrounding music community.
Prior to his musical career as a bassist and backup vocalist he served 6 years in the United States Navy. While in service he worked as a computer programmer at the Pentagon on missile guidance systems. After his service he attended Old Dominion University and graduated with a Horticulture/ Greenhouse Management degree.
He and Melissa formed Little Rose Organics in 2015 after receiving a USDA Grant for a greenhouse which he single-handedly constructed and installed including extensive interior raised beds, matching his exterior 20-year-old vegetable garden.
Michael's passion for creation is evident both on stage and in his immaculate landscape. Over the past 24 years he and Melissa have restored their 120-year-old farm house and turned an old cotton field into their very own verdant paradise.
His support of Buds of Little Rose is born of his desire to make this farm all that it can be by sharing it’s abundance, inspiring the community and the next generation of stewards of the earth.
Diane Beeler (Secretary) is a licensed massage therapist with a thriving practice in St. Simons Island, Georgia.
Diane was born in Hawaii, lived Greece for five years and eventually Madison, Georgia before moving to St. Simons.
Along with providing a myriad of massage services to her very loyal clientele, animal rescue, yoga, spending time with her beloved pets and enjoying the beach with her two young grandson’s occupy her free time.
A big part of her heart resides, however, at Little Rose, where she hopes to retire within a few years and join Michael and Melissa in their quest to make the farm, school, and venue all that it can be.
Her talents are many, her attention to detail is exquisite, and she is a force of nature when it comes to tackling projects of all scopes.
John W. English was full-time journalism professor at Grady College from 1970 until his retirement in 2000. His areas of concentration were magazine journalism and arts criticism.
He launched the College’s first study-abroad program, taking students to Italy and England for 15 summers. He also founded, funded and directed the National Arts Journalism Program for three years, which brought three mid-career arts critics to campus for an academic sabbatical.
For 20 years, he also directed the Atrium Awards, which annually recognized fashion journalists.
A prolific writer of books, screenplays and articles, John continues to freelance and now also creates off-beat, conceptual art.
Maria Moody taught K-3 Special Education for 4 years at Chase Street Elementary School in Athens, Ga. She is currently a Kindergarten Paraprofessional at Chase Elementary.
She is an alumni of Teach For America, during which she taught 7th grade Special Education at Lewis and Clarke Middle school for two years in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She is a certified Georgia Educator in all content areas for General and Special Education P-5. Maria has a Bachelors Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Georgia.
In 2013 she created and led "Seeds of the Earth Summer Camp" at Earthsong in Athens, Ga. She was the creator and led teacher for Exploring the Earth Summer Camp 2017 and 2018 at Little Rose Nature School in Watkinsville, Ga.
Samantha Terry is certified teacher in the state of Georgia. She received her degree from Piedmont College in Athens, Georgia in 2013. Samantha is certified to teach ages kindergarten through fifth grade. Samantha has taught in a local public school for three years and taught in the public schools of Thailand for a year.
During her year as a teacher in Thailand, Samantha was able to explore what education is like outside of the walls of a classroom. Through her experiences she has formed a dream of leading and teaching children to explore the world around them. Samantha has a deep passion for learning and nature, her dream is to combine the two in hopes of creating a youth who is educated and passionate for the world that surrounds them.
She is currently teaching in Vietnam.
Stephanie Strickland holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Agnes Scott College and also a Master's in the Art of Teaching at Piedmont in Secondary Education/Social Sciences. She has a addendum to her masters degree (Ga State University) in behavior disorders . She served as a traditional educator for 10 years, and has been acting as an educational consultant for the past twelve years.
Stephanie also was a full instructor for The North Carolina Outward Bound School for three and a half years leading experiential and expeditionary courses with both youth and adults. Her dream is to help provide opportunities for learning and self realization to youth to extend learning and growth beyond the classroom, engaging in activities to build proficiency in self-reliance, environmental awareness and stewardship, collaboration, and compassion.
Her hope is that children will learn to connect with their dreams, nature, the world around them and truly begin to find their own unique passions.
Andrea Williams has been in public relations and marketing for over thirty years. She worked as the managing editor for local real estate publications and as a freelance writer for Athens Banner Herald and Oconee Patch.
She started her own Public Relations company in 2012 covering event planning, web design, media plans and consulting. She is currently VP of marketing for a national accounting franchise firm, Succentrix Business Advisers. Andrea divides her time between "setting peoples lives on fire" as a career and "inspiring people to liberate themselves to live authentic lives" through mentoring and teaching.
Andrea embraces Buds of Little Rose's stewardship educational track and their goals of inspiring young people to find and live their passion.