By Nyesha Stone
Since 2014, Teens Grow Greens has been teaching youth how to grow their own food and plants and offering some life lessons along the way. Teen Grow Greens is a non-profit that offers agricultural education to teens through a nine-month long program.
Last month, Teens Grow Greens celebrated the grand re-opening of Webers Greenhouse located at 4215 N. Green Bay Ave., which they’ve been using for experiential learning.
According to their Facebook page, “Weber’s provides an experiential learning facility where the teens in our programs can practice their agricultural and entrepreneurship skills,” and “The experiential learning facility inspires Teens to grow individually, but also as an entrepreneur.”
Co-founder Charles Uihlein started this non-profit with his wife as a way to give back. He said high school only teaches so much, and with the nine-month internship, teens are taught the importance of knowing what goes into their food and how that affects their bodies, mindset and thoughts, and other life essentials.
More importantly, Teen Grow Greens provides teens an experience.
Kaya Schwarz became an intern in March of 2017, and when it ended in November she was hired on as staff. Now, she helps run the Weber’s Greenhouse by tending to the plants, helping customers, teaching lessons, making the curriculum, and making sure the greenhouse runs smoothly.
Schwarz will be a senior at Shorewood High School this fall and she heard of the program from one of her teachers. She went to their website, watched a video about the program and then applied.
“I wanted to get involved in something more meaningful,” she said about her interest in the internship.
She’s been a vegan her whole life and turned vegetarian in middle school, but eventually went back to vegan. Schwarz thought she knew food until she started working for Teens Grow Greens.
“It made me more self and socially aware,” said Schwarz.
During her internship, she and other interns were taught different units such as what goes on in the meat industry. Schwarz says she knew about how they treated the animals, but she never thought about how the workers were being mistreated.
According to Schwarz, this program pushes its interns out of their comfort zone.
The interns also discussed social justice issues with their teachers and mentors.
“I feel like I’m such a different person,” she said. “[The program made] be more clear on what I want to do with my future.”
One of the most important lessons Schwarz said she learned from the program is to not ask questions but to just do it. One of her teachers taught her that if she had an idea, instead of waiting for a, yes, to go for it because if she asks and someone says no, then her idea would be wasted.
“[Teens Grow Greens] is going to be an important entity in Milwaukee,” said Schwarz.