Introducing Hands On Nashville’s 2015 Urban Agriculture Teaching Interns!

Urban Ag 2015 Teaching_web_group As Crop City 2015 kicks off at the Hands On Nashville Urban Farm, we’d like to introduce you to a fantastic group of young people who will be leading the six-week, farm-to-table program for Nashville youth. These outstanding Urban Agriculture Teaching Interns will lead a curriculum that positively impacts knowledge, skills, and behaviors about healthy eating and nutrition. From leading gardening activities to preparing healthy snacks to leading games that teach about the food system, each will be play a leading role in the success of the program. Before the fun began, we caught up with each leader about why they wanted to be part of Crop City this summer.

Urban Ag 2015 Teaching_Carter Carter, a rising senior at Montgomery Bell Academy, says he wants to make a positive impact on Nashville and be a great role model to others. In addition to acquiring gardening and meal planning skills, Carter says he is excited to put his summer to good use.
Urban Ag 2015 Teaching_kelseyKelsey, a recent graduate of Hume-Fogg Academic High School, says she is looking to gain experience in urban agriculture while inspiring youth to pursue skills they learn at the Farm this summer. Kelsey says she is a firm believer in human capacity for change, and would like to be known for the courage to be outspoken.


Emmanuel, a rising sophomore at Hume-Fogg Academic High School, joined the team to learn how to become a better leader and use his creative, compassionate ways of thinking to make a positive impact on others. “I want to be someone’s role model or touch someone’s life by giving them advice or teaching them something new,” he said.

Urban Ag 2015 Teaching_Camryn Camryn, a rising junior at Hume-Fogg Academic High School, is returning to Crop City to teach youth for second year. Her goals for round two include enhancing her leadership skills, having fun with her teammates and participants, and learning to grow food properly. Camryn says she would like to work on trying to solve problems that would improve the lives of other people and be part of an open community.
Urban Ag 2015 Teaching_web-2Miranda, a rising junior at Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High School, says she is excited to return to Crop City for a second year to see friends she made last summer, meet new people, and further her knowledge of agriculture. As for her long-term goals, Miranda says she is driven to make a positive impact on the world.
Urban Ag 2015 Teaching_MMarena, a rising sophomore at Antioch High School, says she would like to be known for her positivity and wants to be part of a successful community. As an aspiring pediatrician, Marena’s goal for this summer is to help kids live healthy lifestyles through informed food choices.

Urban Ag 2015 Teaching_ Aybüke

Aybüke, a rising junior at Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High School, is hoping to broaden and enhance her skillset and knowledge this summer in preparation for college and a future career. Aybüke says she wants to be part of something that lives on as a good memory and life-changer in people’s minds.

 Urban Ag 2015 Teaching_DinaDina, a recent graduate from Antioch High School, is returning as an Urban Agriculture Teaching Intern for a second consecutive summer to help make a difference in the lives of others. The aspiring pharmacist says she believes in equality, loves to volunteer, and would like to be known for helping better the world.

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Ale, a rising rising senior at Glencliff High School, wants to be part of something new and life changing and push herself to learn new skills and meet new people. “I want to get out of my comfort zone and try knew things,” she said. Someday, Ale would like to become a doctor or heart surgeon.

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Rania, a rising sophomore at Hume-Fogg Academic High School, says she wants to be part of something great that positively affects the lives of others. She believes in equal chances for everyone and would like to be known for being kind.

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Abi, a rising junior at Heritage Christian Academy, says she is excited to see plants through from seed to harvest and learn more about food pairings. She is also motivated to learn better ways to educate friends and family on proper food preparation and nutritional evaluations.

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Mena, a rising sophomore at Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High School, is driven to help youth learn about staying healthy this summer. Mena believes in accomplishing things everyday and wants to be part of a hardworking team. He hopes to bolster his leadership, team building and cooking skills through this experience.

Introducing the 2015 Summer Youth Leaders!

2015 Summer Youth Leaders-5
Hands On Nashville’s 2015 Summer Youth Leaders! From left to right: Margaret, Stephanie, Shira, and Yavin.

This June and July, Hands On Nashville’s Youth Volunteer Corps is inviting teens to spend a week of summer vacation exploring issues facing our community. Each weeklong session focuses on a different issue area – environment, hunger and homelessness, health and wellness and youth education – and is designed to encourage a deeper understanding of our community through hands-on service learning experiences.

These four Summer Youth Leaders have stepped up to guide this initiative and are using their leadership skills to do good this summer. Please join us in welcoming them! Continue reading Introducing the 2015 Summer Youth Leaders!

Home Energy Savings Homeowner Spotlight: Ms. Brooks

Ms. Brooks and Hands On Nashville Volunteers
Ms. Brooks and Hands On Nashville Volunteers following a Home Energy Savings Project in April 2015.

Ms. Brooks, now retired, is an avid churchgoer, a proud new grandmother, and a homeowner in East Nashville.

Before volunteers completed a Home Energy Savings project in her home this April, Ms. Brooks was paying as high as $400 per month for her energy bill alone. Shortly after her project was completed, Ms. Brooks called Hands On Nashville with good news.

“I’m so satisfied with the work you guys did!,” she said. “Thank you for the [energy-efficient] light bulbs! Thank you for my new fire extinguisher, the smoke alarms, all my attic insulation! Thank you, thank you, thank you! … I walked in the house and could immediately tell a big difference!” Continue reading Home Energy Savings Homeowner Spotlight: Ms. Brooks

Volunteer Spotlight: Alex Lamers

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Hands On Nashville volunteer Alex Lamers planting trees at Meigs Middle Magnet School during the fall 2014.

“Don’t be afraid to try something new.”

These are the words Alex Lamers recalls using as encouragement when getting involved with Hands On Nashville more than a year ago. He says they still ring true today. Continue reading Volunteer Spotlight: Alex Lamers

Guest Blog: TechnologyAdvice Volunteer Recap

Hands On Nashville is fortunate to work with inspired corporate groups looking to make a difference. Recently, TechnologyAdvice Media Relations Coordinator Jenna Elkins sent us this great recap of the volunteer efforts her team has led this year!

Giving is Ingrained in our Company Culture

At TechnologyAdvice, we are committed to serving the Nashville area, along with the people and local businesses that have helped us thrive. In fact, we’ve centered our entire company culture around giving – giving our all to our clients, our employees, and our community.

As of January 2015, we’ve ramped up our volunteer efforts in order to better serve our community and benefit our employees. Studies show that a culture of giving at the workplace enhances moods, encourages teamwork, and keeps employee churn low. As a small but rapidly growing business, volunteering allows us to build positive community relations by serving people from all walks of life and assisting with environmental projects that better our surrounding area.

Through the Hands On Nashville volunteer platform, we’ve connected with unique, and rewarding volunteer projects. It’s a simple system that allows us to seamlessly sign up team members for various activities. We’ve had wonderful experiences, and are looking forward to more!

Tree Planting with Hands On Nashville 

Technology/Advice team planting trees with Hands On Nashville in March.

In March, a large group from TechnologyAdvice worked together to support Hands On Nashville in their efforts to plant more trees for a healthier city. Volunteers worked in a riparian zone in north Nashville, and around 200 trees were planted in just two hours! Cameron Graham, TechnologyAdvice Managing Editor, shares his tree planting experience:

“After we arrived on site we received a short, informative presentation about the importance of riparian zones and their effect in controlling run-off waters. Nashville has previously seen intense flooding in some areas, so these zones are crucial for ensuring that excess water can safely be absorbed into the ground.

Once we had been oriented and shown the proper techniques, we picked up our shovels and started planting. To ensure that each tree had a chance to successfully grow, we had to space them correctly and carefully cover them with soil. Everyone on the team had fun digging holes  and searching for areas which needed additional trees. During the event some of our team members also found a variety of wildlife.

Our team enjoyed the activity so much in fact that we finished well ahead of schedule. That gave us time to help collect some errant litter, and grab a few snacks after our hard work. While it might be a little while until we see the results of our efforts, the entire team had a great time actively contributing to the community and the Nashville ecosystem.”

Below are a few more experiences TechnologyAdvice has had through Hands On Nashville since January 2015:

TechnologyAdvice team volunteering at American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge in spring 2015.

Hope Lodge Game Night – American Cancer Society: Nine of our team members shared in some fun with the residents of the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge by playing rounds of bingo. Hope Lodge provides free temporary housing for cancer patients receiving outpatient treatment at Nashville hospitals.

Technology/Advice team helping at The Nashville Food Project in spring 2015.

Meal Prep at The Nashville Food Project: Our team was feeling like iron chefs during this activity. We helped process donated and grown produce for the Nashville Food Project’s hot meal program. Our 11 volunteers chopped butternut squash, peeled sweet potatoes, made quesadillas, and more. We used many ingredients to make delicious hot meals for people experiencing homelessness and poverty.

Technology/Advice team at Project C.U.R.E.

Project C.U.R.E: Fourteen of our team members supported Project C.U.R.E., which collects new, surplus, and overstock medical supplies. We sorted all kinds of different medical supplies, and packed them in boxes, which were delivered to one of Project C.U.R.E’s targeted, developing countries.

Learn more about Hands On Nashville’s Corporate Partner Program:
Interested in a customized, team building opportunity to give back with your staff?
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Want to share a volunteer experience with us? Let us know at


Three ‘Excellence in Volunteer Engagement’ Recipients Renew Certification

 EVElogo-2015-201760 Nashville Nonprofits Now Recognized for High-Quality Volunteer Management 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Mayor Karl Dean today announced the nonprofit organizations that received renewal certification in Excellence in Volunteer Engagement (EVE), an initiative to recognize high-quality volunteer management by nonprofits and to help increase the number of volunteers in Davidson County. Christian Community Services, Inc., Nashville Conflict Resolution Center and Sexual Assault Center each renewed their two-year certifications for the seventh round of EVE. Currently, there are 60 Nashville certified nonprofits. Continue reading Three ‘Excellence in Volunteer Engagement’ Recipients Renew Certification

Hands On Nashville Named an MNPS Academy Partner of the Year

MNPS Academies 2015
Hands On Nashville received the award for Academy Partnership of the Year: Engineering, Manufacturing, and Industrial Technology for its partnership with Glencliff High School at the 2015 Academies of Nashville Awards.

For the last five years, Hands On Nashville has worked to engage and advance the Academy of Environmental and Urban Planning at Glencliff High School.

On Monday, May 18, the partnership was recognized as Academy Partnership of the Year: Engineering, Manufacturing, and Industrial Technology during the 2015 Academies of Nashville Awards!

> Read more about the Awards via The Tennessean.

With HON’s Director of Sustainability, Jaclyn Mothupi, currently leading as advisory board chair, our team regularly attends Academy meetings to identify needs and challenges inside of classrooms, and collectively works to remove barriers to leverage resources for student success and engagement. Our staff has had the opportunity to provide mentorship to Glencliff’s Garden Club, and has provided externship leadership which has yielded significant Project Based Learning opportunities to increase food security.

Through community involvement, the Hands On Nashville team has worked to engage corporate partners and volunteers in service to improve student-learning environments, providing walking trails, a courtyard makeover, subject-inspired murals, improved garden beds, and freshly painted halls. With more projects on the horizon, we look forward to continuing our great partnership with the Academy of Environmental & Urban Planning at Glencliff High School in the years to come!

To find ways that you can get involved, visit and to sign up for a volunteer project.

Volunteers Give Refurbished Bikes to Nashville Youth

200 Youth Benefit From Hands On Nashville’s Third ReCYCLE for Kids Giveaway 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – On Sunday, two hundred youth served by Metro Parks community centers took home “like-new” bicycles, and brand new helmets and locks as part of Hands On Nashville’s third ReCYCLE for Kids Giveaway event. Continue reading Volunteers Give Refurbished Bikes to Nashville Youth

Reflection: Chase Davenport, A Home Energy Savings VISTA

Chase Davenport
Thank you, Chase!

Chase Davenport joined Hands On Nashville’s Home Energy Savings Program (HES) team in May 2014 as an AmeriCorps VISTA. Hailing from Humboldt, Tennessee, Chase earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Austin Peay State University in 2013 before embarking on this next chapter. The decision to serve as a VISTA, Chase said, felt like the right thing to do.

“I wanted to do something more meaningful with my life,” he said. “I’d been accepted into a Master’s program at American University in Washington, D.C., but something told me this opportunity with AmeriCorps and Hands On Nashville was important. Grad school could wait.”

Chase led many capacity-building efforts for the HES program during his term. He developed relationships with homeowners, scheduled energy audits, added insulation to homes, led 300 volunteers, and engaged the community and other nonprofits to expand the impact the projects could have on the quality of life for homeowners.

“I didn’t know how to do many of the standard tasks performed during HES,” Chase said of his start. “The challenging aspect of my term wasn’t learning a new trade; it was seeing week-to-week how Nashville homeowners who are elderly, veterans, or who have limited mobility, struggle financially to pay for things like medicine, food, transportation.”

With Hands On Nashville, Chase worked to make a difference for those community members. During Chase’s year of project leadership and community engagement, 50 homeowners received energy-efficiency upgrades. On average, homeowners experience $455 dollars in utility savings each year as result of this work.

In March, Chase was accepted to Teach for America, where he’ll be serving as a teacher with Metro Nashville Public Schools. “Really, it’s just another way I can help others. That’s what I feel strongly about, and that’s what I intend to continue doing.”

Chase’s term with Hands On Nashville ends this May. Thank you, Chase, for an outstanding year of service to Nashvillians as a Home Energy Savings VISTA – you truly made a difference. We wish you the best in your future endeavors!

Youth Spotlight: Solteria

Participants in Hands On Nashville’s Urban Agriculture curriculum create healthy dishes, like asparagus and leak salads.

Youth at Watkins Park Community Center participate in Hands On Nashville’s Urban Farm Curriculum every week. Many of the youth who participate have also joined Hands On Nashville for Crop City, a curriculum-based summer youth development program that positively impacts young people’s knowledge, skills, and behaviors about healthy eating and nutrition.  Many of the lessons the youth experience incorporate tangible analogies to help students better understand where food comes from and how it’s grown.

One youth, named Solteria, is especially involved in the curriculum. When asked about what she learned, she remembered a lesson that related the food system to shoe production. “I learned about food by learning about Nikes,” she said.

Solteria is also a great chef. She says her favorite dish she made with food fresh from the Urban Farm was an asparagus and leek salad. (Yum!). Solteria, we can’t wait to see you this summer at Crop City and look forward to seeing what healthy snack you create!