Julianne Schrader ’99

Schrader_JulianneDEGREE: B.S. in biology

JOB TITLE: Director, Grow to Learn NYC

FAVORITE TRINITY MEMORY: Academically, my favorite memories include Dr. Smedley offering me a position in his lab to study defenses of the aptly named Dryas julia, which led to a year working on my honors thesis under Smeds’s thoughtful and patient leadership. Other favorite academic moments include filming a final video project for Dr. Findly’s “Buddhist Thought” class, Dr. Blackburn strumming along to his archaeopteryx hit during “Vertebrate Zoology,” and working with Joe Barber and fellow student Jeffrey Perrin ’99 to make sandwiches that we delivered to some of our less fortunate Hartford neighbors.


What is Grow to Learn NYC? Grow to Learn is New York City’s Citywide School Garden Initiative working to help a garden grow in every New York City public and charter school. Together with the New York City Parks & Recreation Department, the New York City Department of Education, and nonprofit GrowNYC, Grow to Learn provides the funding, training, and garden materials needed for students across New York City to dig in and grow gardens, connect to nature, and build more positive attitudes toward healthy foods. We launched in February 2011 and already have over 400 schools as part of Grow to Learn!

What is your role there? As director of Grow to Learn, I work to increase program capacity through strategic planning, evaluation, and fundraising, as well as recruiting and supporting a great team to provide direct service to schools in priority neighborhoods. I forge and cultivate collaborations with funders, over 100 nonprofit, academic, and governmental partners–and most importantly over 400 schools–who all work together to help students grow food and develop healthier eating behavior while becoming better environmental stewards, experiencing rich academic learning environments, and directly improving their communities.

What do you enjoy most about your work? I feel very fortunate to work with dedicated, smart, interesting, and fun coworkers and collaborators. And, of course, witnessing the impacts we’re having together is the best part of my job. From seeing the excitement on the faces of kindergarteners as they dig and explore in the soil to watching fourth-graders enthusiastically chomp into spinach and teachers proudly show off their thriving vegetable gardens, students can’t get enough time in the garden and teachers see the power of using learning gardens to teach and to help kids build healthier eating habits.

What does Grow to Learn NYC hope to teach young minds? By helping New York City students to garden, we’re hoping to help them build critical academic skills while deepening their relationship to the earth, food, and their communities.

Which course at Trinity was particularly influential to your career? It’s impossible for me to choose one course that was particularly influential. I feel that each class, experience, and interaction helped me learn how to think across disciplines and work hard to better understand the complex dynamics and challenges we face in conserving our planet’s natural resources.

How did Trinity help prepare you for what you do now? In New York City with Grow to Learn, and around the world during my 12 years at the Rainforest Alliance, I have spent countless hours in schools often underserved by the environmental movement. I worked to help empower teachers and students to consider the origins of their food and the communities and issues involved in feeding us and to empower them to work toward a sustainable and just food system. I hope that my work is providing students with the opportunity to experience some of the real-world and multidisciplinary education I was so fortunate to have at Trinity and is helping the next generation inherit our planet with capable minds, strong values, and the ability to think across disciplines and help tackle our world’s complex environmental problems.