Thank You Grand Aspirations

This is Carey, a Program Manager of the Unity MNIC program for YEA Corps. I’ve been writing blogs for the past few months with updates of an aquaponics project that YEA launched at a high school in North Minneapolis. I was initially pulled to YEA for it’s focus in sustainable and entrepreneurial education. Through my work with YEA I’ve been immersed in the challenging and exciting ventures of teaching students about agriculture, the environment, aquaponics, and other related subjects. It’s been exciting to observe the positive trends in emerging environmental education programs in Minneapolis and around the country.

All that I’ve learned has given me a great amount of hope in shifting education systems and providing the next generations with the knowledge and tools to face oncoming environmental challenges. I was lucky enough to become a part of YEA Corps through a Grand Aspirations grant for Sustainable Community Organizers, and I’ve been very appreciative of the chance to work with these organizations and on the Unity aquaponics project.

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(Above is a picture of YEA staff running an interactive ‘Systems’ activity with Unity students.)

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Constructing Unity Gardens

Hey ya’ll, this is Carey here, a Program Manager of the YEA Corps initiatives at Unity MNIC. I’ve been providing updates each week on the progress of the Unity Gardens program that launched back in September. Below are updates from the past two weeks on the Unity Gardens, soon to be blooming and bursting with life!

The YEA team at Unity works to manage and direct the students towards our project goals, and these students never fail to bring energy needed to accomplish them. We have spent the last two work sessions at the school directing the energy of the students towards painting projects, construction of biofilters, project planning, and engaging worksheets. On December 5th our team, Zach, Saeed, Mike, and myself came to Unity with painting supplies, constructions tools, and materials for the aquaponics systems. We also brought in the first garden bed for the systems. Greg, a student, helped the team to bring the garden bed from the parking lot up to the classroom, which is not as easy as it sounds. The bed is four by eight feet, and however large, fits very well in the project room.

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Unity Student, Mike, and Saeed from YEA are constructing a biofilter.

Rere, another student, is in the marketing group that focuses on managing media, product design, branding, and other aspects of the project. Last week, Rere was talking about how she was ready to plant and grow vegetables. When the garden bed was brought into the school she asked if we would be planting seeds that day. Students will be planting seeds very soon, but not till after the Holidays. The students are engaging in different aspects of the project but they will all take part in the process of producing fish and plants through the Spring. This project is great in many ways, and one positive aspect is giving the students opportunities to work on a wide variety of subjects. Students like Rere, focus on planning and marketing of the project, and also participate in the more hands-on learning activities. Continue reading

YEA Corps Launch Day

My name is Carey deVictoria-Michel. This summer, I was a participant in the Twin Cities Summer of Solutions and during this time my eyes were opened to all the amazing things that are happening in this city.  Through funding available to Summer of Solutions participants, I was able to create a position for myself at YEA Corps, a Minneapolis based non-profit that leads educational programs focused on entrepreneurship and sustainability. This is the first blog post in a series by the five Summer of Solutions alumni who will be building their own careers with support from Grand Aspirations in the coming year.

Me (r) talking to a student at the YEA Corps launch day at Unity Charter School.

My job with YEA Corps this year will be to mange a project at the YEA Corps program at the Minnesota Internship Center at the Unity Campus. Unity is a charter school located in North Minneapolis working with students who come from diverse backgrounds, in a neighborhood considered to be a food desert. YEA Corps and Minnesota Internship Center received a grant from Hennepin County to start an experiential learning program for environmental education in North Minneapolis. By the end of the year these kids will have built their own aquaponics systems, created their own business and marketing plan to sell fresh produce and fish, and have learned about sustainability and food systems. We had our big launch day with the students this past week. Continue reading