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Our Staff

Jessica Parks, Executive Director

My husband, Tracy, and I are the founders of Take Root Cafe. This started as just a dream in our heads to provide everyone in our community with fresh local foods and now it has proven to be everything we hoped for and more! I can't wait to see what the future holds for Take Root and this community. Before Take Root, I was a stay at home mom with our now 5 year old son, Elijah. In addition to my job, I love to bake, forage for wild edibles, and grow lots of tasty food. I used to work resettling refugees in Kansas City and have a passion for helping those in need. I have a BA degree in Anthropology and Human Rights from the University of Washington, and an MA degree in Multicultural Education from the University of Missouri, Kansas City.


My favorite thing to do in Kirksville is discovering all the wild edibles and hiking on the many trails we have. I love riding my bike to work and around town. My favorite healthy food is Kale chips. A fun fact about me is I went into college thinking that I would become an astrophysicist. Go figure!

Jared Scott, Executive Chef

When I'm not at Take Root, I'm at home watching some of my favorite shows with my significant other, playing computer games with some of my best friends that I no longer get to see very often, and getting some much needed rest.  I got involved with Take Root through working with ATSU helping teach students healthy cooking and general cooking practices. Jessica observed during one of these ATSU events and we ending up talking about Take Root, cooking, and her need for a Chef counterpart. The concept that I connect with the most is that Kirksville truly needs a place where people can come and get freshly made, good quality, nutritious food.


My favorite healthy food to make is a Korean dish called Bibimbap. A bed of Sushi rice with marinated vegetables, cooked meat, greens, and a fried egg with spicy sriracha sauce on top. One of my favorite things about working in a kitchen is the countless people that I have worked with from all walks of life and the music that they love. To this day there are countless songs / artists that will instantly remind me about the journey I have taken so far to come to where I am today. A kitchen without music is a kitchen with no soul.

Jake Sparks, Team Lead

Bio Coming Soon!

Justin McKean, Chef de Cuisine 

I got involved with Take Root at the beginning of this 2016 year after hearing about it from my lovely friend, Tommy Fieser. I am in full support of the OWEE Model (One World Everyone Eats). The pay-what-you-can-pricing is inclusive and works super well. Tailoring to all walks of life is the core of community development. Everyone deserves healthy, nutrient-dense food and everyone has the right to sit at a community table and share a meal. Doing this and having all the food supplied as local as possible is the smartest way to support our neighboring farmers and local economy. Take Root's mission is whole. Our mission supports the individual, community, economy, and environment!


My favorite thing to do in Kirksville is getting together with friends and sharing a sacred space. Allowing room for each of us to grow through all modes of communication is where my favorite activity resides. Doing yoga, acro-yoga, meditation, dancing, singing, and serving. My favorite food is the one that is hand-picked from a local garden, especially a garden that I was involved with. There is nothing as wonderful as a good ol free handpickin'. I love to do headstands and kartwheels!

Brendan Nebel, Cook

"Wealth is in the mind, not the pocket." I, Brendan Nebel, strive to be mindful of misconceptions, rational with responsibilities, and employ an empathetic environment. As a 22 year old Caucasian male, I have one school year remaining before graduating from Truman State with a BS in Psychology and a minor in environmental studies. My favorite animal is a White Bengal Tiger and my career interests lie in Clinical Psychology. Check out the Art of Living Club!

Nina Thomas, Team Member

I first learned about Take Root before it opened in 2016 when I was 13 years old. After helping set up the theater, I became involved in Take Root and volunteered in the summer. As a high schooler, I plan on studying communication disorders in college so I can help children with autism and other developmental disorders. When I’m not working at Take Root, I’m often hiking, reading, and raising chickens with my family.

Rachael Murray, Team Member

Bio Coming Soon!

Samantha Radke, Team Member

Bio Coming Soon!

Lesley Hauck, Team Member

Bio Coming Soon!

Alex Karst, Team Member

Bio Coming Soon!

Gavin Gratza, Dishwasher

Bio Coming Soon!