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Meet Ben, a 2016 Graduate

Ben Kolk was a student in SEEDS After School. Now, he’s a mentor to the next generation of students!

We never know what moments will have the biggest impacts, so we love hearing from past participants! Ben was a 2016 Manistee High School graduate and SEEDS After School participant during the 2014-2015 school year and has returned as a volunteer and a storyteller!

Below is a photo of him jamming out during The Quest for Something Fresh in 2015, a program we embarked on in partnership with Earthwork Music. In this photo he’s playing a concert solo for “Smells Like Home Cooking”, a remake of Nirvana’s famous song, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.

Since graduating, Ben has gone on to play music professionally. He has released two albums, organized and run a concert series in Manistee, toured nationally working with both The Accidentals and Mark Lavengood. He also toured around the lower peninsula and organized a free community “Rock the Vote” concert with the Michigan League of Conservation Voters.

In Ben’s own words: “SEEDS has, without a doubt, been the biggest reason that I’ve pursued music as a career. Some of my fondest memories come from several of the SEEDS events I participated in during high school. Needless to say, this organization has had a tremendous impact on my life’s trajectory, and I wouldn’t be where, or who, I am today had it not been for SEEDS.”

Ben brought his professional expertise back to the SEEDS After School program helping us with our K-12 Clean Energy Art Challenge. Using miniature solar panels and motors, students created their own music making gadgets that played drums and guitars when set in the sun. This Challenge combines science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) activities, and leverages arts expression to help science concepts stick.

“Coming back to SEEDS for the Clean Energy Art Challenge felt like coming home after a long trip. It was all new, but also very familiar. My time volunteering for SEEDS is definitely time that I will cherish, and I’m excited to continue to work with these fine people in the future,” Ben concluded.

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