Senior Instructor Abbe Ehlers has been an HRA faculty member since 1991. She currently teaches courses in food preparation, restaurant management, and food and beverage management. She recently developed a course in ecotourism, which will culminate in a week-long trip to the Yachana Lodge in the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador. Abbe also serves as the coordinator and principal instructor for Carrie’s a student managed and operated restaurant. Ms. Ehlers is certified in safety and sanitation, responsible alcohol service, and total quality management in education. Prior to joining the HRA faculty, she held positions as a chef, restaurant manager, a catering and events coordinator, and as a consultant on new product development. Ehlers is a past Chair of the Springfield/Branson Chapter of the Missouri Restaurant Association and currently serves on the State Board of Directors for that association.
Abbe is active in numerous university, community, and professional service activities. However, she is most proud of her work with environmental and sustainability issues. She was recently appointed to a special task force on building sustainability into the curriculum, where she will investigate the impacts of local agriculture on the economy. She currently serves on the Community Foundation of the Ozarks Environmental Grants Review Committee and the Tree City USA Citizen’s Advisory Board. In 2010, Abbe was honored as a semi-finalist for the national Volunteer of the Year award from the Alliance for Community Trees for her work in Springfield, Missouri, recognizing her as one of the top twenty volunteers in the nation. In 2009, she received the Volunteer of the Year award from Ozark Greenways and, in 2005, Missouri State University honored her with its prestigious Excellence in Community Service Award.
Ehler’s research interests include the study of relationships between local production of food products and culinary markets, cultural cuisine, sustainability and environmental issues in the restaurant industry, and factors leading to student success. She has made numerous presentations to statewide and regional audiences on a variety of topics and has published several papers dealing with student success issues.