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.

Executive Director

I am a Milwaukee native with over 20 years of experience working with youth and young adults in the community. My passions include the development of youth & adult programming that assists in facilitating holistic human development; and helping others learn how to do so, as well. I've been blessed to earn a PhD in Urban Education from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and have taught there as an adjunct instructor for past six years. Utilizing both my academic and community experience, I believe that it is my duty to build and to be a bridge; assisting in the creation of critically sound and contextually effective programming practices. 


Being a part of the Teens Grow Greens family will allow me to work with an awesome team that shares my values, continue to pursue my passions, and contribute to the positive transformation of the Milwaukee community!

Program Director

A university and high school teacher for over 22 years, my experiences at Marquette University, Pius XI High School, The Prairie School, Vel R. Phillips School, and Nicolet High School shaped my student-centered, community-engaged ethos of transformative education.  Whether students were writing to their elected officials with proposals regarding the justice system or meditating in the woods inspired by Walden, serving homeless individuals with food they’d grown in their school garden or writing to community stakeholders who would be resources for them upon their release from detention, their reading, writing, and thinking was tied in some way to authentic communication and problem-solving.


In addition to serving TGG, I direct ZIP MKE (zipmke.com), which for three years has collected over 2,000 photographs representing faces, places, and events from all 28 ZIP Codes in the city of Milwaukee.  I direct the annual Jane’s Walk MKE (janeswalkmke.org), which hosted over f40 free walks, bikes, and paddles in 2019 in honor of our namesake, urbanist activist Jane Jacobs.  Finally, I am an award-winning columnist-at-large for Milwaukee Independent.

Education Director
Southside Educator

In 2019 I graduated from St. Norbert College with a degree in Broadfield Science Education. My curiosity in regards to plants and biology guided me to the world of science. My desire to share knowledge with others led me to pursue a career in education. While at St. Norbert College, I received numerous awards from the Education Department for my teaching in elementary and middle school classrooms.


I am dedicated to my craft and continue to sharpen my skills as an educator through the study and implementation of multicultural and differential teaching approaches. In the scientific world, scientists are always in pursuit of innovation and discovery. As a science teacher, I seek out innovative and transformative ways of guiding my students on their learning journey. As a member of the Teens Grow Greens Organization, I will strive to provide a safe learning environment and sound mentorship for teens as they become healthy leaders in their community.

Claire Muza

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.

Growing Director

With over 6 years of Environmental Education experience, I am ecstatic to enter into this position as the North Side Educator for Teens Grow Greens. I have had several experiences working in gardens with urban youth and I have witnessed the power and goodness it brings to their lives through healthy mindsets and eating. I grew up in Milwaukee's Historic Sherman Park neighborhood and due to my upbringing, I pride myself on knowing the challenges my students may be facing every single day.

Teens Grow Greens is exciting because my heart has always been in urban agriculture and youth development. While going outdoors may be limited to people who reside in urban areas, I recognize that there are many physical, mental, and emotional benefits to being outside. This is why I am thrilled to be a mentor for my students and provide them the space to discover and express themselves all while feeling truly comfortable. 

Northside Educator
Kaya Schwarz

After completing the Teens Grow Greens internship in 2017, I continued working as an educator and eventually transitioned to focus on the greenhouses. I stand for equal rights, animal rights, and interpersonal effectiveness. I strive to make the world a better place with everything I do.


In the future I want to continue to further my education, open my own animal sanctuary and rehabilitation center, and continue being an advocate for the importance of adolescent mental health. Lastly, I advocate for veganism, the importance of buying local and empathy towards everybody.

Greenhouse Lead
Julius Gayo

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. 

Lead Agriculturist
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