About Us

  • Our Mission:

    Lettuce Dream, a social enterprise engaged in hydroponic farming, exists to provide meaningful employment and job training programs for persons with cognitive or developmental disabilities so that they may enjoy the benefits of living, working and fully participating in our community.

  • Our Vision:

    Lettuce Dream’s vision is to be Northwest Missouri’s most innovative provider of fresh, hydroponically grown wholesale produce, to be its most innovative and progressive employer of individuals with cognitive or developmental disabilities and to be a model for other organizations who want to replicate our employment philosophy. Lettuce Dream will provide an opportunity for our team of diverse individuals to learn the full spectrum of job related skills associated with hydroponic farming. In addition, we will support our team members by affording them a unique opportunity to identify their own strengths, establish their own career goals, gain self-confidence and pursue self-sufficient living as useful and vital participants in our community.

  • Lettuce Dream is a 501(c)(3) organization. 

The Promise That Started It All 

Sometimes a single conversation can affect the direction of an entire life. You might say that just a handful of conversations gave birth to the idea of Lettuce Dream. It started out when two mothers of individuals with developmental disabilities began discussing what the future might hold for their kids in adulthood. These mothers saw few options for their children once they finished high school and wound up deciding that they themselves would be the ones to change that.

A Promise to Make the Dream Come True
Together, the mothers began strategizing how the idea of inclusion could extend into their children’s adult lives. They dreamed of a day where their children could expand their education after high school and saw a future of fulfillment for them. Sadly, at this phase, one of the mothers was struck with cancer. Before her passing, she promised to do what she could from heaven if only her friend, Diane, would continue making efforts here on earth. Diane has kept that promise and Lettuce Dream is the unfolding reality to prove it. Lettuce Dream is built on the idea that individuals with developmental and cognitive disabilities have a lot to give and that everyone is better off when they are an integral part of the wider community. These two mothers have made good on the promises they made to each other and we are witness to their dream coming true.

Our Board Members:

Thank you for helping us make this dream a reality

Diane Francis

President. Diane has a BSEd in Vocational Education from NWMSU. She has worked in the food industry for 12 years, for the University of Missouri Extension Service, and served as County Program Director in Camden County as well as Foods and Nutrition Specialist for a five county area. She is co-coordinator of the Special Olympics program for high school youth in Nodaway County. Her son has autism so she has first-hand knowledge of the difficulties people with disabilities have in finding community employment.


Wayne Pierson

Vice President. Wayne is recently retired from Energizer Battery Manufacturing after 39 years where he served as General Foreman as well as his last position as Staff Safety, Health and Environmental Coordinator. He was responsible for the Maryville facility compliance, but also serving with the Corporate Manager of Safety, Health and Environmental conducting audits in Alkaline Battery Facilities overseas. He also served our nation as a member of the Army National Guard, serving over 38 years and retiring as a Major General.


Jennie Bolyard

Secretary. Jennie is a program manager and case manager at Bethesda Lutheran, a group home that provides residential services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She graduated from NWMSU with a B.S. in Sociology with  an emphasis in Corrections and a minor in Gerontology.


Diann Schieber

Treasurer. Diann has dual B.S. degrees in Marketing and Management from NWMSU. She has previous experience in various aspects of marketing, bookkeeping, and management.


Rego Jones

Rego is a professor in the Department of Agriculture at NWMSU, where he is an instructor for the Horticulture program. He heads up the complex of greenhouses and buildings that house research labs, classrooms, and prep rooms. In addition, Rego is the owner and operator of The Plant House for over 30 years.


Nancy Foley

Nancy is a Professor of Education at NWMSU, and has over 30 years experience in various roles in special education. Nancy has two graduate degrees in special education. She taught special education at the middle and high school levels as well as courses for special education teachers. Her son has learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder.


Scott Throm

Scott has more than thirty years of experience in the grocery business and currently is an assistant manager of Sutherlands in Maryville. His previous experiences include Assistant Manager of Wal-Mart, Store Manager of Bogaarts, Store Manager for Econo Foods, and Assistant Manager of Hy-Vee for over ten years.


Richard (Dick) VanVactor

Dick has retired from VanVactor Lumber Company in Grant City, MO which he owned and operated for 28 years. He previously taught industrial arts at Worth County R-3 for eight years. He graduated with a BS and a MS in Education from NWMSU. Dick has been an active member and officer in Rotary, Boy Scouts, and Grant City Jaycees. He served on the Advisory Board for the Great Western Bank, School Board, City Council, and served on the Board of Directors for 16 years for the NW Medical Center. Presently he serves on Rolling Hills Creative Living Board of Directors as well as Lettuce Dream.


Carol Tjeersdma   

Carol recently retired as an instructor in special education at NWMSU for 17 years.  Prior to that, she was a teacher in special education at the elementary level for 14 years in Iowa and Texas.  Carol has a graduate degree in special education and undergraduate degrees in elementary education and art.  She was the Volunteer Project Chair, while teaching at Northwest, which coordinated opportunities for the university students to work with individuals with special needs in the community.  It is her passion to help individuals with special needs be an integral part of their communities and attain their full potential.


Al Terhune

Al retired from Union Carbide/ Energizer Battery Company with over 35 years of general engineering involvement within the manufacturing industry with extensive process development experiences.  He earned a BSEE from New Jersey Institute of Technology. He was a former Licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Missouri.  Past leadership positions that he has held include: President of the Northwest Chapter of the Missouri Professional Engineering Society, President of Maryville Optimist Club, Zone Lt. Governor for West Missouri District Optimist Clubs, Member of St. Gregory Parish Finance Committee.


Shantel Farnan

Dr. Shantel Farnan is an Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Special Education programs at Northwest Missouri State University with more than 20 years of experience in various roles in special education.  Shantel worked in various group homes for adults with disabilities and taught special education in elementary schools.  For twelve years, Shantel was the Special Education Director for the Maryville School District and during seven of those years was also the Coordinator of the Northwest Missouri Special Education Cooperative.  Leadership positions that she has held/currently holds include:   Co-Chair of the Teacher Education Advisory Council (TEAC), Co-Advisor of the student Council of Exceptional Children (CEC),  President of the Local Administrators of Special Education (LASE), Professional Development Chair and Higher Education Representative of the Missouri Council of Administrators of Special Education (MO-CASE). 


Sharon Strueby

Sharon is presently the Maryville R-2 School’s Accounting / Administrative Secretary.  She has over 30 years experience  in payroll, accounting and providing administrative services to both schools and business.  She is active in her community of Conception Junction, and has a family member with a disability. 


Rod Couts

Rod has owned and operated Accent Printing and Advertising in downtown  Maryville since 1979.  He downsized in 2015 by selling the printing, copying and shipping portions of his business, and he now produces signs, banners and vinyl graphics and sells advertising specialty products.  He attended Northwest Missouri State University and has many years of experience in advertising and marketing. He has been an active Scouter for more than 35 years, is a past president of the Maryville Chamber of Commerce and currently serves on the board of the Maryville Downtown Improvement Organization.

To learn even more about us, view our 2015 Annual Report.