Castle Farms Staff
Linda Mueller has always had a special love for castles. While dating Richard, her childhood sweetheart who had family ties to the Charlevoix area, Linda had an opportunity to visit the Castle…and promptly fell in love. Years later, happily married to Richard, Linda found herself able to fulfill a lifetime dream when the Castle was offered for sale. Purchased in 2001, Linda’s extensive renovations were completed in 2005, restoring the Castle to its original beauty. Today, Linda often can be found in one of her favorite places: strolling through one of the extensive gardens on the Castle grounds and dreaming of another garden. Linda’s vision of developing a world-class historic property incorporating old-world charm and timeless elegance continues to enchant visitors to this day.
Anora has the unique experience of having been a member of the Castle Farms team since its inception in 2003. Her managerial responsibilities are a direct result of her leadership training and expertise in working with people, including extensive experience and wisdom in event planning as well as weddings. She is a Certified Professional Wedding Coordinator through the Association of Certified Professional Wedding Consultants and has personally coordinated hundreds of weddings. Working directly with the local Chambers to actively promote Castle Farms, Anora’s persistence and passion were rewarded in 2011 when she was awarded the East Jordan Chamber of Commerce Ambassador of the Year Award. Anora has great passion for Castle Farms and a desire for the organization to be a continued asset and jewel to the community.
Peggy Kusina, Gift Shop and Tour Director for Castle Farms, has been with The Castle since 2006. Her responsibilities include managing and buying for The Castle’s Gift Shop, as well as actively promoting Castle Farms through both historic self-guided and guided tours. Under her direction, The Gift Shop and Welcome Center have grown to be a proud showcase for Castle Farms. Peggy has served as an Ambassador for the Charlevoix Chamber of Commerce and received their Ambassador of the Year Award in 2010. She is involved with West Michigan Tourist Association and is a regional spokesperson for Circle Michigan.
Kathleen, a graduate of Central Michigan University, has been with Castle Farms since 2009. As the Castle’s staff writer, she assists both the tour and events department in promoting and marketing the Castle. Kathleen is one of Castle Farms’ professionally trained tour guides and enjoys sharing her love of history with groups visiting the Castle. The author of five fiction novels, Kathleen is also co-author of For the Love of a Castle, the ultimate biography of Castle Farms.
Alissa, a graduate of Spring Arbor University and native of Charlevoix, has worked at the Castle since 2006. Her position as Inquiry Coordinator gives Alissa the distinction of being the “voice of Castle Farms”; she’s often the first to speak with brides contacting the Castle via Internet or telephone. Alissa became a Castle Bride in 2009 when she was married at Castle Farms. As a demand for social media presence continues to grow in an ever-evolving market, Alissa’s savvy computer skills and years of experience in the Wedding Department have proved invaluable.
Jessica, a 2012 graduate of Lake Superior State University, carries impressive credentials in event management. Energetic and enthusiastic, Jessica’s avid attention to detail is a tremendous asset for bridal couples she works with. Handling event inquiries and conducting bridal tours have quickly become Jessica’s forte. Very much a hands-on ‘people-person’, Jessica’s specialty is guiding potential Castle Couples around the grounds and helping them find their perfect wedding venue.
Sarah, a native of Charlevoix and 2011 graduate of Grand Valley State University, has worked at Castle Farms in various capacities since 2006. Her degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management, plus her years of experience at the Castle, assisted Sarah as she stepped up to embrace a leadership role with the Castle Farms wedding team as Lead Event Coordinator. Sarah’s commitment to excellence, her enthusiasm for the Castle, and her calm gentle demeanor benefit everyone she works with, be they Castle staff, corporate clients or bridal couples.
Johanna, a graduate of Central Michigan University, is a member of the Association of Bridal Consultants. Prior to graduation, Johanna served a six-month internship at Castle Farms, during which she discovered how much she enjoyed running events, and the Castle staff discovered how much they enjoyed working with Johanna. Her remarkable skills as a roving photographer are put to good use by Castle staff, and bridal couples appreciate her patience and diligence in coordinating all aspects of their special day.
Larissa Ulrich, from Petoskey, Michigan, has an extensive background in event management. Her business studies at North Central Michigan College, paired with over fourteen years experience in the hospitality business make for the perfect combination. Larissa’s organizational and planning abilities, coupled with an innovative imagination, have resulted in numerous successful events at the Castle, benefiting guests as well as the local community.
Jenna, from Grand Rapids, is a recent graduate of Grand Valley State University. Her degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management, paired with a serene demeanor and perfect poise, makes Jenna an ideal Venue Coordinator. Her extensive experience gained from interning and volunteering at large event facilities and non-profit agencies give her the knowledge to handle any event with style.
Abraham, born and raised in the Charlevoix area, has been a member of the Castle Farms Team for the past five years. From his beginning days spent working the grounds to his present day responsibilities supervising staff, Abe is always there ensuring events run smoothly. Thoroughly trained in customer service, Abe is a master at troubleshooting details. His extensive experience working events and his excellent people skills are constantly on display before and behind the Castle walls. With his friendly chuckle and easy-going attitude, Abe is a real team player who makes the ‘Castle experience’ a royal treat for guests and staff alike.
David, raised in the Charlevoix area, has been a part of the Castle Farms team since 2007. With prior work experience in the building and equipment maintenance field, David earned his certifications as a licensed builder, plus EPA 608, and HVAC. David’s responsibilities include internal IT support, telecommunications repair, building and accessory equipment repair, plus overseeing the maintenance department. His vast knowledge of the inner workings of the Castle and his intrinsic ability to problem solve at a moment’s notice make David a valuable resource for the Castle team.
Chris, born and raised in Charlevoix, has been with the Castle since 2010. His educational background in the field of martial arts, combined with nerves of steel and a passion for structural engineering, make him the perfect Chief Engineer for the Castle’s Model Garden Railroad. During the winter months, Chris spends his time on necessary maintenance projects, waiting for the return of spring. Then it’s back to the train shed for Chris, where he cleans the tracks and begins the necessary repairs of the trains, structures, buildings, people and animals. With his friendly smile and charming demeanor, Chris is the Castle’s expert when it comes to trains, tracks and anything else to do with the Castle’s Model Garden Railroad, one of the largest in the State of Michigan.
After moving to Northern Michigan, Walter joined the Castle Farms team in 2010. Now a member of the Maintenance Department, Walter’s prior experience as part of the Castle’s set-up staff provided him with valuable knowledge into the ‘behind-the-scenes’ working of Castle events. Walter, a graduate of Lincoln Tech in Allentown, Pennsylvania with a degree in mechanical drafting and auto CAD, has an inventive personality and a talent for technical problem solving which translates in numerous benefits for the entire Castle staff and visiting guests.
It’s no wonder Cyndi loves to garden. Raised in Dearborn, Michigan, she’s the daughter of a prominent landscape architect. Her extension classes through Michigan State University earned her a certification as an Advanced Master Gardener. Cyndi loves working outdoors with live plants. During the winter months while the gardens sleep, Cyndi serves as curator for the Castle’s museum collections. Come spring, she’s ready to dust off her gardening shears and dig in the dirt. Chet Drenth, born and raised in Northern Michigan, retired from a local business only to have his passion for flowers bloom into a seasonal job at the Castle. Together Chet and Cyndi team up to plant the annuals and care for the perennials that bloom at the Castle. Cyndi’s favorite flower is the wild violet, while Chet loves roses and the Wand Plant.