Dana Wagner grew up as a Midwest farmer’s daughter. Her father served as a professor of agriculture and ran a 45 acre cattle farm in Missouri, so farming and food played a big role in her life. For college, she chose to study retail marketing at Central Missouri State University. Years later, after Dana joined Hawthorne Valley’s Farm Store staff as a clerk, she was able to combine her knowledge and skills from these experiences to help the store grow. Today she serves at the interim Co-Director of Hawthorne Valley Farm.
After graduating from college, Dana and her husband Paul moved to the east coast to help care for her mother-in-law. She worked as a travel agent for United Parcel Service (UPS) during the time when the company was seeking to expand into Europe and Asia. In her role, she planned business trips and traveled all over Europe to set up for conferences. After her first daughter was born, she left that position in favor of a job that would keep her closer to home.
Dana discovered Hawthorne Valley just a few years later while looking at kindergarten options for her children. Paul had studied philosophy and religion in college had learned about Rudolf Steiner and become interested in Waldorf education through that. They toured several Waldorf schools in the Hudson Valley and settled on Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School. Both her daughters, Drew and Zoey, attended the school from kindergarten through 12th grade.
Though Dana originally came to Hawthorne Valley for the school, she quickly fell in love with the farm retail side of the organization. In 24 years, she has served as buyer, store operations manager, store manager, and Director of Retail Enterprises, among others positions.
“I’ve always felt challenged here in every role. I’ve never been bored,” she said. “I also really appreciate being given the space to be creative in my work and truly enjoy working with all my colleagues here.”
In her current position, Dana works with Steffen Schneider, director of Hawthorne Valley’s Institute for Mindful Agriculture, to help research and develop the best management structure for the Farm branch.
“The farm is very diverse, with the agricultural enterprises, value-added production units, and retail operations working as separate lines of business that are very much dependent on each other,” she said. “There have been many management models over the years, and Steffen and I are using our experience and research to recommend an approach to help all the different farm departments work together more efficiently to realize their full potentials.”
Dana is also working on a project focused on helping the whole of Hawthorne Valley develop and refine its offerings as a destination for people to visit. She loves welcoming people to the Farm and is excited to be planning ways to make the campus more accessible for visitors to experience the beauty of a working farm.
Looking back on her time at Hawthorne Valley, Dana is amazed at how much it has grown over the years.
“Since I started, the new Farm Store has been built, the farm yard has been improved, the school has been added onto,” she said. “I could go on, but it’s amazing how Hawthorne Valley is evolving over time. It’s exciting to see it happen and to be a part of it.”