I was not a "good student" in high school. Like many teenagers, I didn't have a sense of purpose and didn't believe in myself. Perhaps that's what drew me to teaching--wanting to provide youth with direction and experience with success. However, after teaching for three years at an urban Milwaukee high school, I still didn't have an answer to the question, "How can teenagers feel successful and gain a sense of purpose in their world?"
Then I spent a summer teaching experiential education in nature. It was here that I saw students become self-directed and aware all through the students being put in the driver's seat. Not long after, my wife and I founded Teens Grow Greens. This is what I was meant to do.
A university and high school teacher for over 23 years, my experiences at Marquette University, Pius XI High School, The Prairie School, and Vel R. Phillips School shaped my student-centered, community-engaged ethos of transformative education. I moved to Milwaukee in 1994 to get my Masters in English at Marquette and soon found many reasons to stay, despite my Northwest roots in Seattle: opportunities to work with with local businesses like Schwartz Books and Stone Creek Coffee, a workout community called November Project, and my future husband.
After leaving classroom teaching to explore passion projects, I discovered that one of my passions was my city. I started a city blog called Relevant Milwaukee and chronicled a year in the life of a hotel as the Pfister Narrator-in-Residence. Then, after the unrest in Sherman Park in August 2016, I founded ZIP MKE , which for three years collected over 2,000 photographs representing faces, places, and events from all 28 ZIP Codes in the city of Milwaukee. I also organized the annual Jane’s Walk MKE (janeswalkmke.org) for three years, which hosted over 40 free walks, bikes, and paddles in 2019 in honor of its namesake, urbanist activist Jane Jacobs. I am a three-time award-winning columnist and photographer for Milwaukee Independent.
I am a Latinx multidisciplinary artist with strong ties to community based work. I find storytelling and accessibility essential to the projects I do. I’ve worked as an educator for many nonprofits connecting young people around the city building on themes of community, art, and connecting to the outdoors. I'm from Milwaukee and a recent 2021 film graduate from UWM. I enjoy spending time outdoors and learning about herbalism, restorative justice, dancing, and gardening with my abuelito.
I am very excited to connect with the young people at Teens Grow Greens and grow together towards justice and wellness.
I am a graduate of UW Oshkosh, where I earned a journalism degree. Along the way, I received several local and national student journalism awards for writing, newspaper editing and public relations. Since graduation, my career has taken me down a different path, focusing on community engagement, the importance of physical activity, and youth mentorship. As a program coordinator for Playworks Wisconsin, I worked at Siefert Elementary School building safe recess practices, coaching basketball and soccer teams, mentoring a team of Junior Coaches to be leaders in their school, and encouraging the power of play! I also have the distinction of being the first ever Youth Football Intern for the Green Bay Packers, where I assisted in the organization and implementation of youth football camps and the team’s equipment donation program, led the Project Play 60 program, and served as host and emcee to the first ever Lambeau Field Live tour. Recently, I completed a graduate certificate in Public Management from the University of Missouri, and aspire to one day pursue a master’s degree in Parks and Recreation.
Born and raised in Milwaukee, I love the city and am excited about finding a way to help make our communities stronger. In my personal time, I am a massive sports fan, outdoor enthusiast, and lover of pizza. I am thrilled to be working with Teens Grow Greens because of our shared values of love, learning and the power of youth to inspire change!
In 2013 I graduated from UWM with a degree in Conservation and Environmental Science. During school and after graduating from UWM, I continued to find work in horticulture, and have since realized it’s the type of work I enjoy most. I’ve worked in the service industry, retail, and business, but still get the most fulfillment from growing and caring for plants.
I’m excited to work for Teens Grow Greens because I get to use my skills in ways that are even more meaningful. I was born and raised in Milwaukee, so it’s important to me that I participate in its growth. Giving teens the skills to become leaders is exactly what this city needs. I think it’s a great way to instill important values, while teaching work ethic and career skills at the same time.
I have been an educator, a coach, and team leader since leaving college in 2012. My experiences range from Americorps programming with City Year and Teach For America to high school settings, both public and charter. The last 10 years in the classroom have shown me the importance of developing relationships with your students. As an educator, I am committed to the development of critical thinking, compassionate communication, and interpersonal skills. Through excellent relationships with others, you have the opportunity to accelerate growth and reach limitless potential.
Languages are a definite passion of mine. I believe that learning languages allows one to engage with a greater community. As you learn about other cultures, you share in critical conversations and enrich your perspective. I speak Spanish and English while improving my French chaque jour. Besides language, I love to garden, cook, and even enjoy the occasional hour of video games.
In my new role, I plan to develop strong ties with community partners, students, and stakeholders from across the city. I truly believe that it takes a village to elevate our youth. I cannot be more proud to continue my career with Teens Grow Greens.
Growing up, I enjoyed exploring the outdoors, which led me to study biology at CU Boulder. While in college, I had opportunities in the summer to live and work in Milwaukee, where I fell in love with the city and enjoyed connecting communities to nature. After graduating in 2017, I moved to Milwaukee to explore my passion for working with youth. Through an opportunity to help students build school gardens, I was delighted by how gardening was at the intersection of being sustainable, connecting with communities, and learning about science and health.
Now, I am excited to work at Teens Grow Greens because I believe in the power of youth, gardens, and learning through experience to make better communities.
I will be a freshman at MIAD this fall and this will be my third year at Teens Grow Greens. I love Japanese manga and anime and want to go to college in Japan to study animation. Later in life, I want to work in Japan as an animator and create my own manga. I feel that this art form portrays things so perfectly: their stories always excite me, confuse me, amuse me, and further my thinking. In my personal life, I take a stand for knowledge; I am always looking for ways to further my knowledge and the versatility with which I do things. Manga and anime have helped me do this, as well as strengthen my knowledge and perspective of how I see things.
In the past few years that I have worked at Teens Grow Greens, I have grown a lot, but not just in plant knowledge: in knowledge for many things. I think Teens Grow Greens has fully crafted me into my best self. Plant knowledge-wise, though, I have learned how to identify plants, how to transplant well, and even how to grow from seed. I have also learned about other environments for growing, like compost growing, compost mixed with soil, and even hydroponics systems.
Kelly Michael Anderson
I am a documentary filmmaker/photographer that grew up just outside St. Paul, MN and moved to Milwaukee in 2006 to study Film & English Literature at UWM. From 2013 - 2020, I held the in-house videographer/photographer and social media roles for MKE-based Colectivo Coffee Roasters, which has sent me all over the world to meet and film with the men and women growing much of the specialty market’s coffee. In 2019 I wrapped production on a collaborative feature documentary that premiered at Tribeca and MKE Film Fest, Plucked. Since 2020 I have been a freelance videographer/photographer working with many orgs and individuals in MKE.
I’ve been filming with and producing media for TGG since 2019 but am excited to be in a growing role with them as they’re one of the most inspiring organizations I’ve worked with in my over 15 years in MKE. There is truly a sense of admiration and respect between teens and staff at TGG and I can’t think of a better foundation for education and introduction into the workforce. I’m honored to be given the opportunity to help tell this story with a guiding hand from the teens themselves.