Leadership:

Zach Robinson | Executive Director

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 | Operations Director

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


Staff:

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Elizabeth Logas-Lindstrom
Executive Assistant / Grant Writer

Talented writer, thoughtful communicator, team organizer

Spark-Y combines two great passions of mine: education and sustainability. I love the entrepreneurial spirit permeating Spark-Y's office environment, which encourages creativity, diversity, and responsibility. While working for Spark-Y I discovered enjoyment for writing grants, planning events, and documenting Spark-Y's remarkable daily achievements at our partner schools and in our community.

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Destiny Zeibol
Lab Director

Science expert, intelligent innovator, passionate problem solver

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

Sarah Jabar
Lead Education Facilitator

Hands-on teacher, relationship builder, empowerment advocate

I believe in the mission of Spark-Y, especially the commitments to youth empowerment and environment stewardship. My heart lies in pioneering methods of engaging/utilizing our resources in more sustainable ways, and educating the community about sustainable practices.

(2015) Spark-Y Intern

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Rachel Mazac
Education Facilitator

Creative educator, tenacious planner, impactful leader

At Spark-Y, the ability to be a catalyst for evolution and take initiative in establishing novel ideas and experiences is a set of highly-valued characteristics. In my time as an Education Facilitator I have been able to foster these attributes. My aim is to have my passion for involvement and helping others spill over into inspiring colleagues, who in turn inspire me.

(2016) Spark-Y Intern, Team Leader
(2015) Spark-Y Intern

Dylan Martin
Education Facilitator / UAL Strategist

Adaptable connector, strategist, engaging environmentalist

My role is to assist in the development and implementation of new and existing systems. Additionally, I assist in classrooms where I transmit nature, food, and aquaponics knowledge to the staff and students in meaningful and interactive ways.  Growing up surrounded by bluffs, forests, water, and wildlife it was essential that my life’s work be in cooperation with nature.

(2016) Spark-Y Intern

Caitlin Barnhart
Education Facilitator / UAL Strategist

Passionate future farmer, sustainability-minded, growth-focused

My role involves teaching biology and aquaponics to at-risk high school students in South Minneapolis. As an UAL strategist I help maintain the day-to-day operations of the production facility. Spark-Y has been a source of growth for me both professionally and personally - there are many skills that I wouldn’t have today if it weren’t for Spark-Y.

(2015) Spark-Y Intern

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Michelle Chmura
Education Facilitator

Innovator, lifelong learner, compelling presenter

I come from a background in astrophysics and geology from the University of Minnesota. When looking at the possibility for life in our universe and Earth-like planets, I began to understand just how special and unique our home planet is in comparison. While a planet made of diamond, or sulfuric volcanoes would be neat to explore, none of them contain the conditions necessary for life. With Spark-Y, I hope to educate future generations for sustainable living to keep our Earth habitable. 

Krista Martinka
Education Facilitator

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 Intern

JJ Oesterle
Education Facilitator

Motivated contributor, caring educator, enthusiastic supporter

As an educator at MNIC Unity location, I am passionate about closing the achievement gap by making STEM education accessible to youth populations and schools with limited resources. I believe that Spark-Y uses is the most effective model for changing future generations and their role in respecting their environment. As an educator, It’s exciting to see students connect with the idea that science can create positive outcomes in their communities.

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Sarah Pilato
Minnesota Greencorp Member

Positive nurturer, dedicated organizer, enthusiastic facilitator

I work with several of the school programs to complete projects while educating students about local agriculture and other sustainable topics. Additionally, I provide care and maintenance to our systems at the Urban Ag Lab as a platform for student education.  It’s wonderful to work with people who share a common goal of making our community and our planet a better place for all.