Magnolia Tree Earth Center, Bedford-Stuyvesant’s acclaimed urban ecology nonprofit, celebrates April’s Earth Month with the appointment of Marlon Rice as executive director.

Rice, a Brooklyn-born author, educator and business consultant, was a hands-on school coordinator for MTEC’s 2018 Earth Month celebration developed by Project Green. “Last year, the program donated trees to public schools in Brooklyn. I would go to the schools and speak to the kids about urban greenery and give them the opportunity to name the tree,” he explained. “What you saw on the faces of these kids was this bright excitement. Through this type of urban ecology education, these kids are getting the chance to define their role in the environment.”

For over two years, Rice served as a special education teacher for first graders in Maryland’s Montgomery County School System. During the past four years, he has operated as the creator and lead instructor for an innovative writing program for the New York City Board of Education. His program, First Voice, is a writing workshop geared to introducing elementary school students to be creative writers.

“Magnolia Tree Earth Center is very significant,” said Rice. “Our society has taken leaps and bounds in terms of urban ecology, and terms like sustainability, recycling and composting are terms that everybody knows. The fact is that we still have children in our communities that are underserved. They don’t have the environmental education to keep pace in the world.”

Currently, Rice is coordinating Magnolia Tree Earth Center’s special April Earth Month and May programming. Upcoming events in Brooklyn include creating flower window boxes, STEM speaker’s bureau at schools, distribution of tree care brochures and parent workshops on food sustainability. “My goal is to reinvigorate the environmental education aspect of Magnolia Tree Earth Center. I’m meeting with community leaders, elected officials, block associations, community boards and schools like Brooklyn Tech and Medgar Evers College,” said Rice. “I want to create an educational pipeline on STEM and STEAM. I want to send the message out to the community that we’re here as an urban ecology resource for Brooklyn’s children, families and residents.”

Rice grew up in the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn and graduated from Brooklyn Tech High School. After graduating from Morgan State University in Baltimore, he became involved in the city’s culture scene. He was communications chair of the Maryland Writer’s Association Montgomery Chapter and is a former culture editor for Heart and Soul Magazine. Rice is a contributing writer for numerous blogs. His novel “Blow One Down” was featured as the book of the month in XXL Magazine. He has served as the director of operations for Pamoja House Men’s Shelter in Brooklyn and is the owner of Good Brother Productions, a production company responsible for overseeing, marketing and promoting events in the New York City area.

The Magnolia Tree Earth Center was founded in 1972 by Hattie Carthan, an environmental activist in Bedford-Stuyvesant, fondly known as the “tree lady.” Carthan was among the nation’s first African-American community-based urban ecology environmental activists. MTEC is considered one of America’s oldest nonprofits dedicated to urban ecology and environmental education. It is the site of the famed Magnolia Grandiflora Tree, which was planted in approximately 1885. It is New York City’s only living landmark.

“I think that Hattie Carthan was a genius because of what she put together in her vision in 1972,” Rice stressed. “She knew that she lived in a community with children that needed to be educated on the environment, so they would look at trees and flowers and understand them. She wanted to build an environmental education hub in her community.”

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