U.S. Staff

Vermont Staff

Beth Merrill

Beth Merrill grew up in Middlesex, VT, attending U-32 High School. While a student at Hamilton College, she spent a semester abroad in Nicaragua in an internship program, where she was able to practice her Spanish and came to appreciate the culture and lifestyle in Central American. Her internship consisted of teaching first grade to a group of students whose teacher was on maternity leave. Teaching first grade proved to be one of the most overwhelming, but also rewarding and formative experiences. Teaching 40 6-12 year olds she gained an appreciation for the human and material resources available in schools and libraries in the US. Needless to say, without books to teach kids reading, the job as a first grade teacher was difficult.  She dreamed of accessing the abundance of school supplies available in the US and donating them to teachers with little to no access to these supplies in Nicaragua.  Years later, in 2001, this dream became a reality as Planting Hope was formed and began it´s mission to promote education in Nicaragua in whatever way it could.

Beth currently splits her time between her home in Montpelier, Vermont and her other home in San Ramon, Nicaragua.  She lives with her husband, Josue “Joka” Montalvan and children, Ezra, 8 and Maizy, 2.

2014 Service Adventure Trip Coordinators

Liza Earle-Centers grew up in Richmond, VT, and took her first Spanish

Liza Earle-Centers with Marissa

Liza Earle-Centers with Marissa

classes at Mt. Mansfield Union High School.  At age 15, she saved up her babysitting money to pay the airfare to visit her brother, a Peace Corps volunteer in Costa Rica.  That experience got her hooked on Spanish and other cultures.

At Mt. Holyoke College Liza majored in Spanish and spent a year at the Universidad de Sevilla in southern Spain.  After college she taught environmental education in California, was able to use her Spanish, and got her first experience leading groups of kids and teenagers.  She longed to return to the Green Mountains, but before that decided to complete a life-long dream of visiting Machu Picchu in Peru.  She spent 5 months travelling in Peru and Bolivia by herself and returned soon after, co-leading a group of 15 high school students for a month-long trip to Ecuador.  They stayed in a small town, similar to San Ramon, and worked on projects similar to those of Planting Hope.
When Liza did return to Vermont, she got her elementary teaching license.  She taught a multi-age class of 5th and 6th graders for four years before having a baby.  She now works part-time for the North Branch Nature Center’s ECO program.   She lives in Marshfield with her husband, Lincoln, her step-sons Milo and Cadence, her daughter Marissa, and their seven chickens.  This spring will be Liza’s first trip with Planting Hope, co-leading the April Multi-generational Trip with Beth Merrill.

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