Meet the Team – Detroit

Odie Avery
Midwest Regional Project Manager

A recent transplant to Detroit Odie grew up in rural Mississippi where his passion for plants and gardening was fueled by his family's local farming efforts.  After completing his BA at the University of Memphis he spent several years in the restaurant and food service industry before returning in 2009 to complete a Graduate Degree in Landscape Architecture at Mississippi State University.  There his primary research focus was strengthening community through design and participatory planning.  Prior to joining the Detroit team Odie spent several years in a Residential Landscape Design and Maintenance firm in the Chicago Area.

Camping, kayaking, hiking, and baking are only a few of his hobbies and in his off time he enjoys spending time with his pups and his family.

Emma Dietrich
Garden Educator, Detroit

Emma is a San Francisco Bay Area native, and recent transplant to Michigan. She spent the last ten years collecting degrees in ecology & evolutionary biology at the University of Rochester and University of Texas at Austin, throughout which she studied fruit flies, parasitic wasps, social spiders, and other bugs that scared her mom. During this time, she also realized a love for teaching, and especially for bringing outdoor, experiential learning opportunities to schools. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, fostering kittens, gardening, and spending time with friends.

Ken Elkins
Regional Director, Detroit

Ken has an unshakable commitment to helping young people live better lives. Prior to joining Big Green, Ken spent 10 years working in youth development providing programs for young people to improve their way of life and contribute to their communities. He also has an extensive marketing and multi-media background and holds a Bachelors degree in Television/Multi-media Production from Ferris State University. As a boy, Ken grew vegetables with his grandfather and understands the important role gardening plays in instilling healthy eating habits and developing strong character values.

Ava Jackson
Program Manager, Detroit

Ava has a strong passion for supporting youth!  Prior to Big Green, Ava spent the last 10 years working with large scale nonprofits to open new sites across multiple locations, support program curriculum and school district partnerships.  Ava received her MBA in Non-Profit Management from Cleary University. She’s a proud Graduate of Central State University a Historically Black College, where she received her Bachelor of Business Administration/ Marketing. Ava is excited to grow her own garden and teach her nieces and nephews. In Ava’s spare time she loves to travel, practice yoga and enjoy the simple things in life with family and friends.

Jonathan Pavley
Garden Educator, Detroit

Jonathan aka JP is a native Michigander who has been an educator and small business owner since 2003. JP became hooked on locally produced food while residing in the Pacific Northwest and today proudly supports his local and national real food community through Learning Gardens.