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3501 New York Ave NE
Washington, DC, 20002
United States


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

Noah Lee, Program Manager

Noah Lee first got his hands dirty volunteering with Growing Power as a high school student in Milwaukee, WI. He received a BA in Anthropology and Environmental Studies from the University of Chicago in 2013. Before coming to WYG in 2014, he worked with youth at the Brooklyn Museum, worked on a farm, and taught a drama class. Now at the Washington Youth Garden, he works with managing the programs at the demonstration garden and our Garden Science partner schools.  

You can reach Noah at

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

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

Taylore Willis, On-site programs coordinator

Taylore Willis joined the Washington Youth Garden in the spring of 2016 after working on the eastern shore as a residential environmental education teacher.  She also has naturalist experience from working in Vail, Colorado (2015) and conducting field research in Montana (2014) in past summers. She graduated from Stevenson University with a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies with concentrations in Biology and Psychology. Taylore is most excited to be at the Washington Youth Garden because she has the opportunity to teach children about the natural world and healthy eating, as well as cultivate her own knowledge of gardening, and most of all... have fun!  She will meet you with a friendly smile and warm welcome to the Washington Youth Garden! In her down time, Taylore enjoys hiking, kayaking, camping, and yoga.

You can reach Taylore at


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

Robin hernandez, Garden assistant

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 


Michelle moncrieffe Foreman, School garden coordinator

Michelle Moncrieffe Foreman is the school garden coordinator at Hendley Elementary School in Congress Heights.  She has been growing edibles in Baltimore City and the DC metro region for the past ten years. Michelle has combined a career in community health and journalism for over twenty years. She has a Master’s degree in journalism focusing on health communication from the University of Iowa.  Her favorite gardening book is James and the Giant Peach.  

You can reach Michelle at

Emily Wilhelm, School Garden Coordinator

Emily Wilhelm is the school garden coordinator for Smothers Elementary School in Benning Heights.  She has experience working, gardening, and cooking with kids in traditional and non-traditional learning environments. Emily has worked for the past several years as a pastry chef and is excited to share her professional culinary experience to create delicious food from the garden harvest.  She grew up in the DC area, now lives in Takoma with her husband and daughter, and enjoys rediscovering all the gardens, museums and experiences DC has to offer.   

You can reach Emily at

Saxon Henderson, FoodCorps Service Member

Saxon Henderson is serving as a FoodCorps Service member at both Center City Public Charter School and John Burroughs Elementary School this upcoming school year. Originally from Richmond,VA,  she came to the DMV area to attend George Mason University for both her undergraduate and graduate degrees. She received her Master's degree in Public Health, and she aspires to use her degree to combat childhood obesity by providing access and education to healthy food and life choices.

You can reach Saxon at