Faculty and Staff

Jacob Hundt

Director & Faculty

Jacob Hundt played a central role in the founding of Thoreau College in 2015 and now serves as Executive Director, as Board Member, as a Faculty member leading courses in literature, philosophy, and sustainable agriculture.  He  grew up on a dairy farm in the Driftless Region of southwestern Wisconsin and was one of the founding students of the Youth Initiative High School. He studied and gathered inspiration for transformation in higher education at Deep Springs College, the American University in Bulgaria, and the University of Chicago Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences, earning a BA in History and an MA in Social Sciences.  Since 2004, he has worked as a trained Waldorf high school teacher and guidance counselor at Youth Initiative High School and was a founding board member and instructor of the  Driftless Folk School.  Jacob is passionate about the importance of the liberal arts for our civilization and motivated to create a model that enables students to freely choose a post-secondary education dedicated to the cultivation of thinking, feeling, and willing.

Liz Franklin

Board, Faculty, and Administrative Coordinator

Liz has played several roles in the development of Thoreau College.  She served as Registrar of the Driftless Folk School for two years, was a founding member of the Thoreau College Board, and served on the staff of Thoreau’s Garden. She now coordinates administrative and leads courses as a member of the Faculty.   Liz and her family moved to Viroqua in 1993. Since that time she has served on the Board of Trustees and the Development staff at Pleasant Ridge Waldorf School, and as Development Officer and Administrator at the Youth Initiative High School. She was a founding Board member of the Viroqua Food Co-op, and currently serves on the board of the Threshold Care Circle. Liz sees the impulse behind Thoreau College as a profoundly practical response to the deep and urgent questions of the rising generation.

Frank Wildingway

Frank Wildingway

Movement, Food, Gardening, & Performance Arts

Frank is a vocational creative interested in exploring the reasons for why we are here and what we are doing here. He is a jack of many trades, a professional cook, a grandfather, a gardener, a ceremonial person and a long time student of the martial and healing arts with particular emphasis on cultivating awareness of the inner landscape. He lives in Viroqua.

Liam McGilligan

Liam McGilligan

Drama, Development, Viroqua Shakespeare Festival

Liam McGilligan is an actor, artist, scholar, and citizen from Madison, WI who first came to Viroqua as a student in the Thoreau College 2021-22 Metamorphosis Year Program. He holds a B.F.A. in Acting from the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater Actor Training Program, graduating in 2020. He is passionate about the arts and storytelling as a vehicle for developing greater self-knowledge and cultivating authentic community and relationships in these uncertain times!

Benjamin Bernard-Herman

Benjamin Bernard-Herman

Scholar-in-Residence – 2023-2024

Benjamin Bernard-Herman is the 2023-2024 Thoreau College Scholar-in-Residence. He is a PhD candidate in cultural anthropology at the University of Illinois–Chicago, where his research focuses on agriculture and ethics. At Thoreau College, he has taught classes on environmental anthropology, social and political theory, ethnography, and academic writing. While serving as the scholar-in-residence, Benjamin is conducting ethnographic research with farmers across the Driftless region for his dissertation, which explores the role of small-scale farming as a spiritual and ethical practice. When not teaching or working on his dissertation, Benjamin enjoys hiking through the Driftless, growing and cooking his own food, and snuggling with his cat, Asal. 

Arwyn Wildingway

Board & Gardening 

Arwyn Wildingway teaches gardening and greenhouse management as the director and leading light of the Thoreau’s Garden Greenhouse enterprise . She is a mother and step-mother of five young adults, partner of artist Frank Wildingway, and long-time employee of the Viroqua Food Co-op. Before moving to Viroqua in 2004, she was a carpenter, market gardener, and homeschooler on a central Pennsylvania homestead. Loving all plants, she has started the Pleasant Ridge Waldorf School garden, initiated the building of the attached PRWS greenhouse, and helped PRWS take over running the Growing for Good greenhouse and spring garden center, before transitioning this enterprise to the stewardship of Thoreau College. As a Wisconsin Master Gardener for over 10 years, her passion for sharing plant wisdom has actualized in hundreds of hours of community service. Ask her a plant question, and watch her light up!

Justys Grenier

Justys Grenier

Wilderness Expedition Leader and Coordinator

Justys Grenier has spent the last few years working as an outdoor educator with Voyageur Outward Bound School, and is an enthusiastic experiential learner himself. He is passionate about the gifts spending time outside in community can bring to people, and has dedicated himself  to learning how to help facilitate this. He grew up exploring the creeks and rivers of southwest Wisconsin and feels at home in a canoe on those waters.

Fellows 2023-2024
Graduation Dec 2023

Thoreau College Fellows – 2023-2024

Tyler Hruby – YIHS Teaching Fellow

Tyler Hruby is a native son of Lake Crystal, Minnesota and is livelong seeker of the truth.  He holds a BA in philosophy from Carleton College and spent time studying bioregionalism and syntropic agriculture in Barichara, Colombia before coming to Thoreau College to participate in the 2023 Field School program.  During the 2023-2024 academic year, Tyler has helped to lead the 2024 Winter Program and Community Seminar, while also participating in the teaching internship at the Youth Initiative High School, leading classes in EFL, pyschology, and geology, as well as founding a popular philosophy club. 

Christiana Fowlkes – Farm & Garden Fellow, Admissions Coordinator

Christiana is an aspiring homesteader hailing from the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC and with roots in rural Maryland.  She holds a BA in biomedical sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and first came to Thoreau College for the 2023 Field School Program.  This year, she has led the Admissions Team, while also working to coordinate planning and activities related to the Thoreau College gardens and farm.

Sam Kearley – YIHS Teaching Fellow

Sam hails from a ranch in Salida, Colorado and completed a BA in Neuroscience from Sewanee University in Tennessee.  Sam has a deep interest in Buddhism and contemplative practice, cultural practices related to death and dying, and wilderness education.  This year, Sam has helped to lead classes on meditation and metaphysics and death and dying, as well as leading the Winter Expedition as part of our 2024 Winter Program.  As a YIHS teacher intern, Sam has lead classes on EFL, statistics and probability, psychology, and geology and has helped to lead several high school wildernsess expeditions.  Sam’s aspiration is to found a new microcollege in his native Colorado.