Meet the Staff
Nadia Mercer, Program DirectOr
Nadia Mercer has experience ranging from permaculture design in Maui, to working on a vegetable CSA farm in PA, to managing the Washington Youth Garden's one acre demonstration garden and several school gardens (2011-present). She received a degree in Studio Art from James Madison University in 2006 and applies these right brained skills to create three-dimensional vegetable garden experiences for DC youth and families. Since joining WYG Nadia has transitioned the demonstration garden from predominantly annual vegetable production to include an orchard demonstrating permaculture techniques, fifteen raised beds, a drip irrigation system, and youth orientated design elements. She is taking continuing education classes in Landscape Design and Horticulture at the USA Graduate School.
You can reach Nadia at email@example.com.
Jake Dacks, Garden Manager
"Farmer Jake" Dacks earned his esteemed title working on farms in Oregon, Argentina, and DC. Along the way, he's herded goats on an animal sanctuary, built the finest composting toilet in the Western Hemisphere, and eaten way too many radishes. Jake is a student of permaculture and enjoys mushroom hunting while riding his bike around the city. He's excited to be a part of the Washington Youth Garden where he tends to the one-acre demonstration plot at the National Arboretum.
You can reach Jake at firstname.lastname@example.org.
crystal williams, communications and events manager
Crystal Williams joined the Washington Youth Garden in July 2016. She recently graduated from Loyola University Maryland with a B.A. in Communications, specifically public relations and advertising. After reading The Promise of a Pencil by Adam Braun, Crystal knew that she wanted to work for a non-profit in making the world a better place. She interned with a New Jersey non-profit called Move for Hunger where she learned she belonged in a field that thrived on healthy eating and sustainability. In her free time, Crystal enjoys exploring the wonderful museums in Washington D.C., attending local concerts, and searching Pinterest for new healthy recipes.
You can reach Crystal at email@example.com.
brianne studer, Education manager
Brianne Studer, Education Manager, develops and facilitates educational programming at WYG’s demonstration garden and at partner school gardens, as well as manages seasonal staff, school garden coordinators, and volunteers. Brianne brings over 10 years of experience in youth development and informal education, focused on STEM education. Before joining WYG, she served five years as program director for Farrington Nature Linc in the greater Boston area. She received her B.S. from University of Michigan and M.S. in Ecological Teacher and Learning from Lesley University.
You can reach Brianne at firstname.lastname@example.org
THEA KLEIN-MAYER, Program Coordinator
Thea Klein-Mayer's ideal day includes being outside, working hard, and sharing tasty food, so she's happy to join the WYG team and do all of the above. She got started growing food through an on-campus vegetable garden she led in college. After graduating with a degree in Environmental Science, she mentored students working on design projects, visited family in South America, and then moved to rural Virginia to practice sustainable agriculture. There, she developed a love for garden-based education that she's brought back home to DC.
You can reach Thea at email@example.com
Robin hernandez, Garden coordinator
Robin Hernandez is very excited to become a part of the Washington Youth Garden. She attended college at Temple University, and after a decade of living in Philadelphia returned to her native Takoma Park (home of the best 4th of July parade) about two years ago. She loves growing food, flowers and generally being outside. She has worked alongside farmers; artists; social workers; teachers; and dog walkers. When not working with Farmer Jake in the fields, she’s studying with the University of the District of Columbia’s Master Gardener Program or volunteering with a local farm.
You can reach Robin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
eMMA BOEL, gARDEN EDUCATION LEAD
After a splendid garden internship with WYG, Emma Boel is excited to join the education team. She became involved with agricultural education on working farms in Virginia and urban gardens in DC, and has a background in land-based work that ranges from leading a trail crew in North Carolina to shepherding on a farm in Australia. Now, she loves learning with the kids in WYG’s happy corner at the arboretum. She’s passionate about the communal nature of food, and is proud to be the number-one-consumer of stevia (aka “the sugar plant”) at the Youth Garden.
You can reach Emma at email@example.com.
Allie Arnold, foodcorps service member
Allie Arnold is a recent graduate of the University of Virginia, where she spent a lot of time thinking about and participating in local food systems work as an Environmental Thought & Practice major. She thinks there is no better way to build relationships with the earth and each other than through growing, cooking, and sharing food. She’s excited to dig in and find fellow garden enthusiasts in families, kids, teachers and staff. Allie is the primary contact for KIPP Webb Campus.
You can reach Allie at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Salsabil Chebli , Foodcorps service member
Salsabil Chebli is a recent University of Maryland graduate. She loves working with kids and teaching them to be passionate about the environment and eating healthy. She also enjoys cooking and baking cool cakes in her free time.
You can reach Salsabil (Salsa) at email@example.com
Lynne Bogle - FOODCORPs service MEMBER
Lynne Bogle is entering her second year as a FoodCorps Service Member with Washington Youth garden, after abundant previous experience at Montessori schools and in the garden. She is passionate about sharing outdoor experiences and teaching about food and gardening with her students. Her fellow teachers say she always brings a burst of energy and a ready smile to each room she enters. Lynne is the primary contact for Bishop Walker School.
You can reach Lynne at firstname.lastname@example.org
MALAIKA SIMMONS, FOODCORPs service MEMBER
Malaika Simmons is a recent graduate of Davidson College where she earned her BA in Environmental Studies. Her main interests within the environmental studies realm involve food justice, food security, and urban gardening. As a Washington, DC native she is excited to work with FoodCorp and Washington Youth Garden this school year in engaging young students around gardening and healthy eating.
You can reach Malaika at: email@example.com