Team

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Jaimie Davis, PhD, RD

Director of the EdEN Lab

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Dr. Davis is a Registered Dietician and Associate Professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at UT-Austin.  Her research includes developing and testing school and community-based gardening and cooking programs.  She is guiding EdEN lab in testing the impact of these programs on obesity prevention and treatment for low-income, minority youths.  Two studies that have shown the protective effects of fiber, fruits, vegetables, and a low sugar diet are LA Sprouts and TX Sprouts.  Dr. Davis enjoys being a part research that helps people live healthier lives. 

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Bonnie Martin

School Garden Coach

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Bonnie is the owner of Smart Sprout LLC, where she designs gardens for public and private schools. She led the design and installation of school gardens for the TX Sprouts research project. She serves as an instructional coach and consultant, helping to train teachers and volunteers to use their school gardens effectively. She believes that an organized, invested group of school gardeners is the foundation of a strong and sustainable garden. She has been designing landscapes for over a decade and loves to encourage both children and adults to appreciate the natural world around them.

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Valerie Cordes

School Garden Coach 

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Valerie holds a Master’s in Special Education from Holy Names University. She is a lifelong gardener with 20 years of experience as a classroom teacher and team lead. She serves as a teacher mentor for Sprouting Teachers, working with educators to incorporate school gardens and outdoor classrooms into their practice. Valerie is delighted to be able to share her passions for teaching, learning, and improving student health with Texas educators.

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Katie Nikah, MPH

Lab Manager / Senior Research Project Coordinator

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Katie holds a Master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Texas. She has over a decade of experience working in community-based health initiatives from Paraguay to Washington, DC. She has also been conducting research in this space since 2012. Katie managed the TX Sprouts program for 5 years and now focuses on Sprouting Teachers and the School Garden Sustainability Survey. She wants every person to have the chance to live a healthy, happy life and believes that learning outdoors connects children to nature and fosters adventurous spirits. 

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Michele Hockett Cooper

Lecturer/School Garden Trainer

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Michele holds a Master’s in Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies from Michigan State University. She was an educator for the TX Sprouts program for four years and is now faculty at UT Austin and Austin Community College and directs the EdEN Interns Program. She has had extensive experience working with farmers and students across the US and abroad. Some of her work has included creating sustainability programs for school gardens and facilitating garden-centered teacher training. Michele is passionate about teacher trainings and supporting a healthy global food system..