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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

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


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

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

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