Alumni Profile of the Month: Cristal Gonzalez

Artboard 1 Announcements Alumni Profiles
icon-clock November 15, 2022

“I had an interest in hydroponics, spa science and cooking and [GCF] helped me to turn that interest into a passion, and eventually a career!”

Cristal Gonzalez

Graduated: 2017, Cohort 14

From: Taft Houses, Manhattan

Current Position: Lead Activity Specialist for the Department of Education at NYC middle schools

The New York City Department of Education is the department of the government of New York City that manages the city’s public school system. The City School District of the City of New York is the largest school system in the United States, with over 1.1 million students taught in more than 1,800 separate schools.


What does your typical work day look like?

“I lead classes teaching hydroponics, spa science and cooking. A typical day at work for me would be coming in and setting up the classroom with my teacher’s assistant. We would take any materials to the classroom and prep the room for the students to learn.”

How has your GCF experience helped you in your position? 

“GCF was able to help me in my career by connecting me directly with companies in the urban agriculture industry. I had an interest in hydroponics, spa science and cooking and they helped me to turn that interest into a passion, and eventually a career. These topics are also what the majority of my training in GCF had been in. 


About Cristal’s career pathway:

“I began my career in the green industry working for GCF as a cohort member. I then completed a hydroponic training at Square Roots and became a hydroponics farmer there. After that, I became a Farm and Operations Manager for Green Food Solutions. I would host workshops and events, teaching volunteers about urban farming and hydroponics. Eventually I wanted to work with youth more and transitioned to working as a hydroponics and gardening teacher for Concrete Safaris, managing their farm and garden while also training youth in farming.”

What advice do you have for current Corps Members?

“My advice for cohort members is to trust the process of GCF and to trust the members of your team. It will be difficult every day but your grit will continue to strengthen. As long as you keep an open mind and positive attitude you will find the opportunities and support you are looking for and need.”


What’s your favorite GCF memory?

“My favorite GCF moment would have to be hosting farm stand at Wagner Houses. We had such an incredibly diverse range of vegetables and fruits in the farm. It was amazing to be able to experience growing and harvesting all of these different plants and then using them to cook and connect better with our community – it’s just something I will never forget.”


Achievements at Green City Force:

Earning certifications in GRPRO and Hydroponics. 

Securing a job before graduation!


“Joining Green City Force has changed my life. I joined GCF because I wanted to learn how to grow food and medicine. Before joining I was working in a non-profit and wasn’t satisfied with my daily duties and goals. I knew I wanted to be a social entrepreneur, but I didn’t know what steps I needed to take to become one. I had so much self-doubt before becoming a part of my cohort. The most important lesson that I learned in GCF is that I am capable of doing anything I put my mind to. My plans after GCF are to continue being an entrepreneur and to focus on improving my communication skills. I would like to thank the entire GCF staff for giving me the tools to improve professionally and mentally. I would also like to thank them for all the amazing opportunities and doors they have helped me open. I am thankful that I was able to learn so much more about myself, my community, and the world we live in. I have a much better understanding about the world and what goes on in it.”



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