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Magnolia Tree Earth Center Names Marlon Rice as Executive Director

I know, without a doubt, that we create smarter minds when we give kids the opportunity to interact with the environment. Give them this blueprint on how to have a relationship with the earth.” Marlon Rice




By Fern E. Gillespie


Brooklynite Marlon Rice, educator, author and business consultant, has been named Executive Director of Magnolia Tree Earth Center (MTEC), Bedford-Stuyvesant’s famed urban ecology nonprofit. To celebrate Earth Month, Rice is coordinating MTEC’s special community and school programming for April and May that includes creating flower window boxes, STEM speaker’s bureau at schools, distribution of tree care brochures and parent workshops on food sustainability.

“Magnolia Tree Earth Center is very significant,” said Rice. “I want to send the message out to the community that we’re here as an urban ecology and environmental education resource for Brooklyn’s children, families and residents.” 

For last year’s MTEC Earth Day celebration, Rice assisted Project Green in developing and coordinating the urban ecology project of teaching students in District 16 how to plant trees. MTEC donated tree samplings and Rice conducted workshops and activities with students, teachers and principals on urban greenery. The students even named their planted trees. 

“Through this type of urban ecology education, these kids are getting the chance to define their role in the environment,” said Rice. “I know, without a doubt, that we create smarter minds when we give kids the opportunity to interact with the environment. Give them this blueprint on how to have a relationship with the earth.” 

Rice grew up in Clinton Hill and graduated from Brooklyn Tech High School. He is a graduate of Morgan State University in Baltimore, he taught special education to first-graders at Maryland’s Montgomery County School System. For the last four years, Rice has headed the creative writing workshop, “First Voices,” for the New York DOE, which he developed for elementary students. 


His novel, Blow One Down: A Tragedy, was featured as the Book of the Month in XXL Magazine.  

Rice is the former Communications Chair of the Maryland Writer’s Association’s Montgomery Chapter and a former Culture Editor for Heart and Soul magazine. He is a contributing writer for numerous blogs, including

As an entrepreneur, Rice is the owner of Good People NYC, a production company responsible for overseeing, marketing and promoting events in the New York City area. For over 15 years, he has consulted restaurants and lounges on management, marketing and events. He held the popular “Back to Brooklyn” events in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Clinton Hill, Fort Greene and Central Brooklyn.  In addition, he served as the Director of Operations for Pamoja House Men’s Shelter in Brooklyn.

“Everything in my life has been geared to be a community servant,” said Rice. “At MTEC, I want to create an educational pipeline on STEM and STEAM. I’m meeting with community leaders, elected officials, block associations and community boards and schools like Brooklyn Tech High School and Medgar Evers College.” 

“On behalf of the Magnolia Tree Earth Center Board of Directors, I want to welcome Marlon Rice to MTEC,” announced David Greaves, Chairman of MTEC. “We are very excited to have Marlon in this leadership role. His management, education and creative experience – and his knowledge of Brooklynites — will be an asset to MTEC. We are looking forward to his guidance in taking MTEC to the next level as an innovative urban ecology and environmental education institution.” 


The Magnolia Tree Earth Center was founded in 1972 by Hattie Carthan, an environmental activist in Bedford-Stuyvesant, fondly known as the “Tree Lady.” She was one of the first African-American, community-based, urban ecology environmental activists in the U.S. 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.

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