Can you help us to support incredible
scholarship applicants like these?

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Meet Garrison Hines, a 23-year-old male from from North Philadelphia, where he is working for AmeriCorps affiliate Power Corps while developing his own nonprofit urban orchard and food center, inspired by his grandmother’s garden growing up. He has dreams of his North Roots Orchard providing tangible points of food + community connection for urban and black residents in his home community. He identifies as “a mentally gifted, black male from poverty who is a problem solver and extremely resilient.”

Garrison was nominated to apply to the program by some of his leaders at Power Corps, who describe him as “thoughtful, uplifting, hardworking, curious, and wise.”

On his sources of inspiration in this world: “My source of hope and strength is my family. My family has suffered a lot over their years, and I want to be the one to end the cycle. As I get older, I am realizing that it is my time to step up and be the leader of my family. To successfully lead, I must first learn. I am building myself into the best leader that I can be for the security of my family.”

He’s eager to learn more at The Eco-Institute about agricultural foundations, environmental action, fundraising and leadership skills to bring home to develop the North Roots Orchard project. In his words:

I want to grow as a human. I want to keep an open mind and learn something new every day. I hope to learn so I can return to Philadelphia and pour back into my community… I can grow as a leader, and I know the experience in NC will push me out of my comfort zone. The challenge of being far from home coupled with being in nature, I will be forced to rely on my strengths and work on my weaknesses.

Garrison needs significant financial assistance to join us this fall, and in making this experience possible for him The Rising Earth program supports Garrison in his dreams while simultaneously putting into practice our stated intentions to promote equity at The Eco-Institute and to breakdown the legacy of exclusion and oppression that tends to show up in environmental movements and land-based education in the US today.


Meet Abbey Cmiel, a 22-year old NC native and recent grad of UNC, who says: “I feel most alive when I am surrounded by others who care about creating a more inclusive, supportive, healthy, and equitable community.” At UNC she was a Global Studies and Social Entrepreneurship major, and a leader in food justice initiatives both on and off campus. On this juncture of her life, she writes: “I am at a point of not knowing where my life will lead at all. I am about to graduate in less than a week and feel pulled in many different directions. The general path is to go directly into a corporate job in a city. The alternative others pose is to travel as far away as possible and see the world. For some reason I don't feel completely satisfied with either.”

Abbey needs significant financial support to be able to attend the Rising Earth program this fall. On what she believes she’d contribute on coming here:

One of the most useful things I can bring to the Eco-Institute is many strong connections to the Chapel Hill social justice, food activism, and sustainability community. Throughout my time at UNC, I was a leader of Nourish in the Campus Y and have helped organize the Student Food Stakeholders collaboration. I have helped organize groups under the university’s Food for All theme and spent a little over a year researching and meeting with all the food related organizations on campus. Through these experiences I have worked closely with: The Sonder Market, Flo Market, TABLE, No Kid, Carolina Cupboard, among others.

I hope that my time in the Rising Earth Immersion will be one of continued collaboration and interaction with the community. I believe that in order for sustainability and health to be equitable, they must be affordable and accessible to all. In order to create lasting change for the future of our environment and the community, people must experience the natural world and understand where their food comes from. Unfortunately, in America this experience is often limited to a very select population who have the time and resources to care for their bodies and the Earth.


Meet Liana Zafran, a recent graduate in Sustainability from The University of Florida who has been working at the intersection of restorative justice and sustainable agriculture as a garden educator for children with disabilities and disciplinary histories. She describes her formative life experiences: “The way in which I move through this world is an honor owed to all those who have touched my life. Often working at the intersection, I am a lifelong student, an organizer for fossil fuel divestment, a self-taught filmmaker, an oral historian, a gardener, an environmental educator, and as a recent graduate I am existing in a liminal space. This bridge, this in-between, is a time where I desire to transform my life's practice and live my values."

Liana has led workshops for both kids and adults in storytelling training, activism, and practices for cultivating our inner children. She is excited for the opportunity to develop in reciprocal relationship with others on the Rising Earth program. She writes:

While in community at REI, I am excited to collectively steep in meaningful questions and soak in the teachings of those around me” in order to “reshape and re-story negative cultural narratives through embodied curriculum that centers oral histories of marginalized populations, earth stewardship and movement building.

Liana needs significant financial support to be a part of the Rising Earth program, and she's committed to a cycle of reciprocity in seeking aid. She explains: “As a recent college graduate, I am noticing the ways in which this system places burden on young people through crippling debt and unrealistic expectations of ‘success.’ As a young change-maker, who knows that my value is priceless, I am seeking support from community members who are wanting to invest in youth and believe in cultivating the future. Although I do not have enough disposable income or savings to pay for the immersion program, I am confident that I bring value beyond my bank account. In the future when I am more financially stable, I am devoted to repaying the favors and investments in youth that I've been afforded and gifted.“

Can you help make this opportunity possible for some of the rockstar scholarship applicants like these?

We believe the Rising Earth Immersion offers an incredible, life-changing opportunity for emerging adults ready to step into a world of peace, justice, and contribution to a healing planet. The production of the Rising Earth program—as well as other programs of the EIPM—are possible thanks to the generosity of donors and supporters who have given of their time, their gifts, and their dollars in service to our shared work.

Please write Rising Earth Scholarship Fund in the memo.

You may also send us a check donation to:

Rising Earth Scholarship Fund

The Eco-Institute at Pickards Mountain

8519 Pickards Meadow Road

Chapel Hill, NC 27516