About Leave It Better

Leave It Better Foundation empowers youth to heal our environment.

The main ways we accomplish this is through our year-long educational program- the Leave It Better Program- and through our seasonal work at the Leave It Better Kids Garden in the Bronx.

The Leave It Better Program is currently in 8 schools throughout New York City. We teach students how to compost with worms and how to garden outdoors through the hands-on process of actually building worm bins, getting dirty, planting seeds, and harvesting food. In addition to these tangible agricultural practices, we provide students with small HD cameras and teach video literacy, so that students are able to communicate what they learn with friends, family, teachers and the extended Leave It Better community.

At the Leave It Better Kids Garden we host weekly garden days at 1970 Grand Avenue in the Bronx. These eventful Saturdays often include activities like picking up trash, weeding, planting seeds, harvesting, composting, building leaf forts, climbing trees and much more.

Staff

  • Graham Meriwether- Director
    • Graham founded Leave It Better Foundation in 2009 with the belief that youth are the key to healing our environment. Youth’s innate optimism and keen sense of what truly matters are the perfect combination to lead the green movement across the world.  Graham is also a documentary journalist who directed the feature American Meat and is currently directing Farmers For America, both focused on America’s agriculture. With the help of fellow Leave It Better team member Dominique Bouillon, Graham founded the Leave It Better Kids Garden in 2010. Graham lives with wife Susan, son Abraham and daughter Maya Lou in NYC.
  • Hannah Weiss- Lead Educator
    • Hannah is a passionate outdoor educator, believing in the power of teaching through nature and mentoring through shared outdoor experiences. She has a strong passion and knowledge base of media literacy, environmental science, community gardens and learning through hands-on activities.

ReGeneration Corps Members

  • Tanzina Ahmed
  • Isabel Avina- Isabel is a senior at New York University studying Environmental Values in Society, in addition to a double minor in Graphic Design and Studio Art. She is passionate about water conservation and environmental education. Isabel has kept up with the Leave it Better Kid’s Garden as well as educated in our Leave it Better schools.
  • Astrid Chapman- Astrid is most passionate about involving youth in a mindful teaching way. She seeks to be present for each individual student she is with, giving undivided, undistracted attention. Astrid is developing the Leave Yourself Better program which focuses on Do-It-Yourself activities where students create herbal bath fizzies and soothing tea. She earned the nickname “Bubbles” from students who love working with her. Astrid studied psychology at the New School in NYC and seeks to find meaningful educational connections between nutrition, documentary and spirituality. Astrid loves the connection of working directly with others- no matter what their age. She aims to forge huge collaborations in the mind of the kids she works with, creating a driving force of good for the future, showing what kids can do. Kids are natural doers. Kids thrive on hands-on activities. Astrid creates the mental space for them to create.
  • Nadine Pabon
  • Jackie Sheehan

Board Members

  • Dr. James Boyer 
    • James is a botanist and educator at The New York Botanical Garden. He currently holds the position of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Vice President of Education, responsible for overseeing all student, teen, teacher, and family programs at the Garden.
  • Ryan Darnton
    • Ryan is a multidisciplinary environmental consultant with over seven years of combined experience as a biologist, engineer and attorney working on issues related to water quality, water treatment, hydrology, hydrodynamics, sediment and aquatic ecosystems.
  • Andrew Hoyles
    • Andrew hails from the Great Lake State of Michigan where his love for the natural environment blossomed. Andrew joined the Ecology Center team in 2009 as the Compost Instructor for the New York City Compost Project hosted at the Ecology Center and left in 2015 to join the Department of Sanitation’s Bureau of Recycling and Sustainability, rolling out organic waste collection city-wide.
  • Graham Meriwether- President and treasurer
    • See staff bio above.
  • Dax Ponce de Leon- Vice president
    • Dax, LEED AP BD+C, PMP serves as the Chief Knowledge Officer at PMA Consultants, LLC. Mr. de Leon leads PMA’s Knowledge Management Program, an effort to maximize the value obtained from PMA’s collectively accrued insights, experiences, and expertise. He creates company-wide, cross-functional initiatives to grow and share knowledge for the mutual benefit of clients, employees, and the organization.
  • Karl Rosaen
    • Karl is the Co-Founder of Real Time Farms, LLC. Mr. Rosaen previously served as Vice President of Technology at Food52, Inc. where has served as both lead project manager and lead engineer.
  • Makini Velazquez- Secretary
    • Makini has taught English-as-a-Second Language (ESL) in New York City, to students with special needs, for eight years. In 2012, she has transitioned to working as an English Language Learner Coach, providing instructional support to ESL and bilingual education teachers serving students with disabilities in grades K-12.

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