Shajan M. John is the principal organizer of Growing Networks and the Founder and Director of Mahattil LLC. Mr. John is a certified global business professional (CGBP) and a thought leader in global business, innovation and entrepreneurship.
Shajan John has taken leadership in building several alliances between universities and with industry for educational and research partnerships. His latest accomplishment was to be a strategic supportive leader in establishing the $22 Million seven university - industry consortium called the Compact and Efficient Fluid Power Engineering Research Center. Mr. John is a certified fluid power specialist and has nearly two decades of experience in the fluid power industry as an engineer, researcher, marketer and educator.
Chaya J. Nayak is a co organizer of Growing Networks and an Intern at Sweet Water Foundation. Ms. Nayak brings knowledge and experience from 3 years of work in the aquaponics and urban agriculture industry in Milwaukee, WI, and India. Chaya was part of a team in 2010, that first introduced the concept of aquaponics farming to drought stricken villages in India, and conducted a feasibility study and policy analysis on aquaponics in the country.
Chaya has actively worked with Sweet Water Foundation for the past two years aiding in fundraising, and organizational development. During that time she has also attempted to understand aquaponics as a system with the ability to impact society, the economy, and the environment, and aid in the creation of resilient cities.
In addition to her work with Sweet Water Foundation, Chaya is working with the City of Milwaukee Office of Environmental Sustainability, and has worked with the UW- Milwaukee’s Center for International Education. She has also been named a Public Policy and International Affairs Fellow, an AmeriCorps Midwest Campus Compact Fellow and a Gilman Fellow.
Ms. Nayak earned her Bachelor of Arts in Globalization Studies with a focus on Global Security and Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of WI-Milwaukee, graduating with the honor of Summa Cum Laude. She is continuing her education in the Fall of 2012, attending UC-Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy.
As a budding aquapon in the Chicago area, Jason Axt has rooted education and hands on design experience. As a Lead Aquaponic Designer for Growing Networks, Jason applies his experience to the international needs of providing food security to developing nations while providing core education for communities through the use of aquaponics.
Jason has design and construction experience in all scales of aquaponics from classroom to commercial scale. As a current Intern with Sweet Water Foundation, he works side by side with local schools to integrate aquaponics as a hands-on learning tool for teaching STEAM (Science & Technology through Engineering, Agriculture/ Arts, and Mathematics).
As the Growing Systems Manager at the Plant, an urban farm on Chicago’s south side, he provides insight and instruction to developing aquapons on design and construction of innovative systems. He also designs and maintains the current food production systems, including tilapia breeding and aquaponic deep water culture.
Jason Axt is a graduate of The University of Wisconsin –Milwaukee with a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies, a minor in Structural Engineering, and a Certificate in Urban Planning
James Godsil is the co-founder of Sweet Water Organics, Inc. and Founder and President of Sweet Water Foundation. As an avid supporter and entrepreneur in the field of urban agriculture and community development, Mr. Godsil sprouted interest in aquaponics as a board member of Growing Power from 2005-2010. Since founding Sweet Water, Mr. Godsil has been a strong proponent of the use of aquaponics miniatures as a means to achieve food security while also educating the next generation of innovators in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math disciplines. In 2011, James travelling to India as a U.S. State Department representative, for the American Speakers Program for India, in which he presented his innovative work in the Urban Agriculture and Aquaponics industries. This work has directly resulted in the Growing Networks pilot project in India.
Mr. Godsil was a doctoral candidate Political Economics and a National Science Foundation and Fulbright Fellow. He is the founder of the Milwaukee Renaissance On Line Magazine, the founder and President of the Community Roofing & Restoration since 1975 and the Milwaukee Entrepreneur of the Year 2010.
Emmanuel Pratt is Sweet Water Foundation’s founding Executive Director. Emmanuel earned a Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University and Masters of Science in Architectural Urban Design from Columbia University and is presently pursuing his doctorate from Columbia University School of Urban Planning.
During 2004-2006, Emmanuel guest lectured at The University of Witwatesrand Department of Architecture focusing on digital design methodologies. Upon his return to the United States, Emmanuel spent several years working closely and traveling around the country with Will Allen of Growing Power.
Emmanuel’s focus on community development through the intersection of food security and sustainable design innovation has led him to Chicago State University, located on the south side of Chicago, where he is the Director of the newly formed Aquaponics Center and a Professor of Urban Planning .
Jesse Blom earned a Bachelor’s degree in Cultural Anthropology from Dartmouth College in 2006, and has since pursued a career in the field of experiential education. For several years, he worked as an outdoor and leadership educator, first with Camp Manito-wish YMCA in northern Wisconsin, and then with Global Youth Leadership Institute in Milwaukee. A student and practitioner of collaborative leadership theory, Jesse has developed a wide range of group facilitation skills. He has practiced these skills with a diverse array of students and teachers from many parts of the world. His work has taken him to New Mexico, Ontario, Costa Rica, and the Netherlands – among other places. However, Jesse’s favorite place to work is a re-purposed factory building in the Bay View neighborhood of Milwaukee.
Since joining Sweet Water Foundation in 2010, he has specialized in the “human” aspects of urban farming. As Education Coordinator, he designs Sweet Water’s educational program, delivers lessons and workshops, and manages public outreach. Jesse looks forward to working with the Milwaukee community and the Sweet Water team to make Sweet Water an international model for urban agriculture in post-industrial cities, while creating economic prosperity, social benefits and environmental sensibility.
UW-Madison Student Interns
Major(s): Environmental Studies, Political Science
Certificate: Integrated Liberal Studies
Hometown: Colfax, WI
Travis Blomberg is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Academically, Travis has been an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant under the supervision of Dr. Catherine Middlecamp for the past two years in courses titled: Environmental Studies 600-Capstone & Integrated Liberal Studies 251-Contemporary Physical Sciences. He has also been a member of the Community of Environmental Scholars Program at the Nelson Institute for the past three years. Professionally, Travis has owned and operated Stripes Officiating Agency, a youth sports officiating business, since 2003. Due to the success of the Stripes Officiating Agency, Travis has been awarded the Global Student Entrepreneur (Regional) Award, Wiscontrepreneur Scholarship, Student Venture Seed Grant, and works with the Student Business Incubator. Additionally, he was also a semi-finalist at the Climate Leadership Challenge for an aquaponics proposal known as SAFE Innovations. He also works as a research intern through the Bioeconomics of Aquatic Invasive Species program and helps out as a student hourly at the Integrated Liberal Studies department.
Major: Biological Systems Engineering
Hometown: Farmington, WI
Rita Argus is going to be a senior this fall at the University of Wisconsin Madison, majoring in Biological Systems Engineering. Rita is currently the project manager of Engineers Without Borders- Rwanda and has traveled abroad to El Salvador, Guatemala, and China for various international projects. When not at school, Rita enjoys being with her herd of goats.
Major: Human Geography
Kellie Schweich is graduating with a B.A. in Geography and a certificate in Environmental Studies. She received honors recognition in the Department of Geography after completing a Senior Honors Thesis. Her thesis involved on-site study at the Sheboygan Community Garden in Madison Wisconsin. She studied the ways in which the spatial design of the garden helped or hindered the social interactions of the gardeners. The highlights of Kellie’s past years at Madison include a summer garden internship at F. H. King the student run farm on campus, volunteering with UW Slow Food, and tutoring students weekly at Emerson Elementary. In her spare time she enjoys biking around Madison, geocaching, cooking with friends, and gardening. Kellie plans to pursue a career in community development and education focusing on sustainable food systems and urban gardening.
Major: Life Sciences Communication
Hometown: Madison, WI
Douglas Johnson is currently a 28 year old senior at The University of Wisconsin - Madison USA studying Life Sciences Communication. After working as a carpenter and coaching youth ice-hockey for quite some time he is excited to graduate this upcoming Spring 2013. Doug has been happily married now for three years to his wife Kate and is the oldest of five. There are many hobbies he enjoys including traveling, backpacking, tree climbing, hockey, art, frisbee, his dog Dewey, teaching, nature and many more. Currently Doug's internship in Kochi, India has given him a great experience while learning new lessons and memories to take back home. His future goals include raising children, finding work that is pleasurable and being happy. Positive energy.
Major: Landscape Architecture
Wally Graeber will receive his Bachelor of Science Degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the fall of 2012. His year-long senior capstone project aims to design implementable solutions using a network of community gardens, walkable environments, visible stormwater amenities, and renewable energy elements. During the final months of his undergraduate career, Wally is traveling to Kochi, India under the direction of the Sweet Water Foundation. Together, Wally and an interdisciplinary team of students will work alongside residents to implement aquaponic systems which will introduce a needed protein source in their diet, reduce the chance of organic or fecal pollution into groundwater, and spur economic development in dense urban areas. Wally’s vision for his career includes applying his passions of teaching, designing and constructing food systems on a local level with school age children, and at an international level with families in developing countries similar to India. He enjoys exploring Madison’s unique local eateries, cooking with as much dairy as possible, hiking in arboretum pine forests, supporting southside Madison businesses, and starting the occasional ultimate disc game on Bascom Hill. Living with 20 some roommates, he spends as many waking sunlight hours outdoors gardening, running, swimming, and fishing.
Major: Environmental Studies, Entrepreneurship
Hometown: Birmingham, MI
Lauren Stinson is a junior at the University of Wisconsin- Madison. She is a student of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies with a focus of sustainable food systems. Lauren will be entering the Wisconsin School of Business this fall to study Entrepreneurship and Management. In fall of 2011, Lauren was a nominee for SmartPower’s “America’s Next Eco-star” National competition and received twelfth place in the final round. Lauren has been a Community Outreach intern with Slow Food-UW for the past year, organizing workshops and field trips for students and Madison community members.
Lauren became interested in aquaponics while studying permaculture design at EcoCentro Institute of Permacultre Design in Pirenopolis, Brazil. In summer 2011, Lauren received a certificate in permaculture design. She hopes to combine her interest in ecological living environments with a business education to study Environmental Law post graduation in May 2014.
Certificate(s): Global Health
Hometown: Salem, Wisconsin
Kimberly Mayer will be starting her fifth year at University of Wisconsin- Madison pursuing a degree in statistics with an emphasis in biology, and a certificate in global health. To gain exposure to the healthcare field she has completed an internship with Organ Recovery Systems in Chicago, IL. She is also a student member of the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics Research (ISPOR) and has utilized conferences given by the society as an outlet for further development of her interest in the field. Because kayaking, windsurfing, waterskiing and camping are her favorite hobbies she greatly values sustainability and the protection of our natural resources. She has actively volunteered with the DNR for over ten years and works with the entomology department at UW-Madison analyzing research on the nest building techniques of social wasps in Brazil. After graduation she plans to integrate her interests in both public health and the environment through studying behavioral public health.
Name: Sowmya Adibhatla
Major: Neurobiology with a certificate in Global Health
Hometown: Madison, WI
Sowmya Adibhatla is a graduating senior with a major in Neurobiology and a certificate in Global Health. She currently works in a Neurosurgery lab at UW-Hospital and conducts research on the role of folic acid in regeneration and repair of the adult Central Nervous System after injury. In her free time she enjoys reading, playing tennis, and hanging out with friends.