Zach Robinson |
Zach Robinson has more than doubled, every year, the number of youth served and the financial growth of Spark-Y since he became Executive Director in 2013.
Committed to his staff and the youth population they serve, Robinson seeds principles of entrepreneurship and empowerment into his leadership approach. As a result, hundreds of interns and student participants have gone on to start their own businesses, obtain jobs, or are inspired by sustainable business practices for their future. As an organization, this has contributed to a culture of progressive growth - students becoming interns, interns returning as leaders, leaders enterprising to staff positions, and staff collectively expanding the mission and impact of Spark-Y.
Robinson is passionate about creating win-win relationships with community, corporate and financial partners. These strategic partnerships create meaningful experiences for youth, while providing value for our partners. As a result, Spark-Y and their partners continue to launch youth-engaged innovative and sustainable projects, including the first in-restaurant aquaponics system and the greenest school campus in Minnesota.
(2013) Executive Director
(2010) Operations Director
(2008) Board of Directors and first Treasurer
Co-Founder: Green Circuit Solar
Co-Founder: Stophouse Music Group
Graduated first in-class, Honors, Indiana University, Kelly School of Business
Sam Menzies |
Sam Menzies, Spark-Y Operations Director, leads sustainable systems for the organization: in-classroom programs, community / off-site initiatives and a commercial-scale urban aquaponics system at our Minneapolis office. Exemplifying sustainability and entrepreneurship in-action, Menzies creates systems that generate produce and monetary resources, using available and re-purposed materials, while eliminating waste-streams. The simplicity and ingenuity of Menzies’ systems design are taught in classrooms, showcased at the Urban Agriculture Lab, and integrated into every Spark-Y project.
For Menzies, sustainable systems are more than just a business model, they are also a way to connect to community and interact with people in a positive way.
(2015) Operations Director
(2014) Systems Manager: Founded Microgreens Initiative
(2014) Spark-Y Internship graduate
Greenhouse agriculture installation in China
Graduated Economics and Philosophy, with a focus in agriculture, Wheaton College
Rhiannon Dalrymple, Ph.D. | Program Director
Rhiannon Dalrymple's role as Program Director at Spark-Y is an exciting, ever-changing position where each day brings new growth, partnerships, opportunities and excitement. Dalrymple leads all of Spark-Y’s school partnerships, gracefully organizing team members and enriching the youth education empowerment goals of the organization. Her compassionate leadership of Spark-Y educators supports success within their roles, as well as the success of Spark-Y’s versatile school programming.
For Dalrymple, there is a draw to experience ecology through action, combining plant science and people interaction. Leaving a career of academic research, she joined the organization with a deep-seeded passion for youth, community and a belief in the power of education.
(2015) Spark-Y Intern / Permaculture Apprenticeship
Graduated Doctorate in Ecology, University of New South Wales Australia
Elizabeth Logas-Lindstrom | Development Director
Elizabeth Logas-Lindstrom, Spark-Y’s Development Director, orchestrates a robust development plan while also building relationships, supporting outreach, and managing grants. Spark-Y’s mission is the intersection of her two greatest passions: education and the environment. Because of this, Logas brings heart to the center of her work everyday.
Engaging community members to collaboratively change youth lives and build a more sustainable future is deeply fulfilling for Logas. Raised by two innovative educators, Logas grew up immersed in the power of hands-on education and the value of youth empowerment. Prior to Spark-Y, Logas worked in food access and wildlife advocacy. She is deeply invested in sustainable living, education, and empowering communities to make a difference together.
(2015) Spark-Y Executive Assistant
Graduated Environmental Studies and Political Science, with a minor in Peace Studies, Gustavus Adolphus College
Science expert, intelligent innovator, solution-oriented
I originally joined Spark-Y to build a DIY bio lab and expand science literacy in the twin cities. I have stayed because the freedom that Spark-Y affords to continue that mission, building skills while helping every part of the organization. I feel that my input makes a difference and and creates scientifically sound school programs.
(2013) Creator of DIY bio lab
Becca Ward, Ph.D
Lead Education Facilitator
Lifelong learner, relationship builder, creative problem solver
After finishing my doctorate in chemistry, I wanted to find a job where I could connect with my community and help people develop a love for science. Given the current climate, I am especially interested in working with young people to help them recognize the importance of science in their lives and the contributions it has and can make to society. Spark-Y is the perfect place to do such work.
Curious thinker, adept analyzer, problem solver
My background in History left me with no doubt in the power of a solid education to transform both individuals and in turn their broader communities. Although not all of education’s value is easily quantifiable, its ability to instill a depth of context and provide individuals with a sense of accountability is unmistakable. I was drawn to Spark-Y because its programs both endeavor and succeed in combining the best of traditional education with a “hands on” approach that encourages youth to grow their own ideas, build plans to see them through, and ultimately gain an unique sense of ownership as they see their efforts manifest as tangible results. Quality sustainability/entrepreneurial education alone would make a difference, but when I found that Spark-Y’s holistic approach endeavors for more by linking these efforts to valuable partnerships and annual internship opportunities, I jumped at the chance to be part of a team so firmly dedicated to making an impact, both in and well beyond the classroom.
Education Facilitator: Urban Farm Manager
Passionate farmer, sustainability-minded, cultivator
At Spark-Y, I care for the Urban Agriculture Lab located at our headquarters on Chicago Ave. I also coordinate the Shoreham Community Garden in Northeast Minneapolis through a partnership with the Holland Neighborhood Improvement Association. My role at Spark-Y allows me to live out my passions every day. Through this role I know I am contributing to a more just & sustainable food system, and I am passing that knowledge on to our Twin Cities neighbors.
(2015) Spark-Y Internship graduate.
Action Educator - Inquiry Learning Specialist
Playful storyteller, community builder, plant listener
I get to spend my days playing with fish, plants, bacteria and students in an ongoing experiment to generate abundance--it's pretty dreamy. My role is currently leading the Inquiry Zone at Crossroads Elementary and building Spark-Y's capacity to reach more young people for a more sustained impact. Before joining Spark-Y I ran several different afterschool programs in WA and VT, most of which were focused on sustainable agriculture and youth empowerment. I'm thrilled to be back in my homeland of Minnesota with my hands in the dirt again (and by dirt I mean aquaponic hydroton pebbles)
Compassionate teacher, marketer, change agent
I chose Spark-Y because of the atmosphere, the staff, but most of all because I am truly proud of the work we do here. Professionally, I am most passionate about being able to help students form their own opinions about the environment. Seeing their opinions change as they grow is inspiring to me.
(2016) Spark-Y Internship graduate
Education Facilitator - Action Learning Specialist
Positive nurturer, dedicated organizer, enthusiastic facilitator
I am so passionate about the Spark-Y mission and love that I get to spend my days working with so many different students! Bringing hands-on education that is both fun and meaningful into classrooms every day is work that I feel great about doing. Seeing students learn, explore, and grow is as empowering of an experience for me as it is for them. It's wonderful to work with people, both students and staff, who share a common goal of making our community and our planet a better place for all.
(2016) Spark-Y Minnesota Greencorp Member
Systems Excellence Specialist
Eager learner, loyal teammate, future-minded
The elegance and potential of aquaponics intrigued me from the moment I learned of it, so I'm thrilled to join an organization that uses aquaponics as a tool to teach students in innovative ways. Specifically, I am excited with how Spark-Y empowers students to be active designers and builders, creating a system that grows a valuable (and delicious) product. At Spark-Y, my role is to assist with designing, building, operating, and maintaining the aquaponics systems.
Public Ally Americorps Education Facilitator/ Volunteer Coordination Specialist
Motivator, ally, relator
My role involves helping the youth become their best selves through hands on activities, which works in tandem in building on their self-leadership skills and help them achieve their goals in life. As a volunteer coordination specialist I will help expand the volunteer program through recruitment while also coordinating volunteers into school programs and events.
Education Facilitator and Systems Success Specialist
Outgoing, passionate, knowledgeable
My primary role within our organization is management and organization of tools and physical resources, as well as leading the Spark-Y mycology program. Working with Spark-Y has honestly become one of the most fulling and purposeful parts of my day-to-day life. Working closely with youth to build a luminous future.
(2017) Spark-Y Internship Graduate
(2016) Spark-Y Internship Graduate - Dedication & Leadership Distinction
Education Facilitator, Green Corps Member
Adept problem-solver, natural inquirer, passionate educator
I serve with several school programs to raise awareness towards and promote sustainable behaviors in youth within the community. I believe that facilitating education about topics surrounding environmental issues and sustainability while providing a setting for students to learn through hands-on lessons and experiences is the most effective way to inspire sustainable behaviors for future generations. With Spark-Y, students are able to experience a holistic approach to sustainability which is why I am proud to be a part of this organization.