The clucks of more than 250 chickens harmonize with the braying of goats and the snorts of pigs, composing a pastoral symphony that resounds across 30 acres of lush, sustainable farmland. Lofty woods outline the acreage as the leaves of pumpkins, squash, and flowers dapple the pastures. Brier Creek Family Farm's resident staff patrols these scenic grounds, carefully tending to the ever-changing flocks of livestock that have included sheep, rabbits, cattle, and ducks.
The team bestows its passion for agriculture upon budding farmhands during camps, teaching pupils to intermingle with the animals, till an organic garden, and communicate through subtle pitchfork motions. The farmers further enlighten visitors at an onsite store brimming with eggs, seeds, crafts, and antiques.
Stop Hunger Now distributes food and other life-saving aid to provide hunger relief to developing countries around the world. Through its meal-packaging program, volunteers package high protein, dehydrated meals for use in crisis situations, school feeding programs, and orphanages around the world. Its partner organizations note increased enrollment in schools that receive these meals, ensuring that more children receive a quality education in addition to a healthful meal. Stop Hunger Now hosts meal-packaging events to prep food for recipients, during which 40–50 volunteers can typically package 10,000 meals in two hours.
South Main Speedway lets customers mix and match rounds of mini golf and go-kart racing to fashion a full day of family-friendly recreation. Clamber into a one- or two-seater speed machine to race friends, loved ones, and renegade Mario Kart characters for 15 ferocious laps around the Speedway’s sinuous track (a $6 value/race). Then, head to the outdoor putt-putt course (a $6 value/game) to send dimpled balls skittering past squat shrubs, plashing waterfalls, and nostalgic windmill operators into 18 waiting holes. The Groupon's eight games or races can be parceled out to multiple people on a single day, facilitating bonding within families or semipro hide-and-seek teams. Afterward, venture outside to browse The Factory's complex of shops, restaurants, and sports facilities.
Though many students come to Mathnasium having fallen behind their classmates, a mathematically advanced child sparked the learning program’s creation. As founder Larry Martinek’s young son, Nic, developed an appetite for higher-level math concepts, Larry found himself developing an entirely new teaching language to explain them in an age-appropriate way. The kind of instincts he sought to build up couldn’t be nurtured by drills and rote memorization. Instead, they required a deeper understanding of the principles at the root of mathematical operations, delivered in a way that grade-school kids could apply throughout their academic careers.
In just a decade’s time, Larry and his team have established Mathnasium centers in most U.S. states and more than a dozen other countries. At each, tutors who earned a 700 or higher on the math portion of the SAT develop custom learning plans for students in grades K–12 based on The Mathnasium Method. The system combines an education strategy of conceptual, tactile, and visual techniques with a curriculum structure that ensures kids can count, think proportionally, and tell the difference between a multiplication sign and a plus sign by scent alone. Tutors allow some time each session to help students with the concepts in their math homework, and the centers regularly check report cards and standardized tests as further measures of progress.
No Girls Allowed. It’s sign often seen on boys’ treehouses and a feeling women often get at the gym. Ladies Fitness & Wellness aims to wipe away those feelings of unease by cultivating a supportive women-only environment where all ages and sizes can achieve their fitness goals during group classes or on modern cardio equipment and free weights. The more than 35 types of fitness classes include kettlebell, jump rope, yoga, Pilates, and Zumba. All of them keep heart rates up as women bond over the experience.
Bridal Bootcamp gives women a customized fitness program including personal-training sessions, meal plans, and weekly fitness coaching to help brides-to-be feel confident in their dresses and double backflip into their reception.
As a child, Ruth Warren learned to value creativity over consumption. Her parents—who grew up during the Great Depression—taught their children to make ornaments from magazines, matchbooks, and bottle caps, paper dolls from catalogs, and even their house from salvaged wood and nails. As an adult, Ruth still celebrates these values as an artist and the marketing coordinator for The Scrap Exchange. The nonprofit company collects materials from more than 250 industries within a 100-mile radius, looking to repurpose everything from foam, paper, zippers, test tubes, fabric, and vintage goods into art and craft supplies.
Staffers have aims beyond just reducing waste and promoting environmental awareness: they hope to create a vibrant community. Alongside merchandise, their shop makes room for craft classes, an art gallery, and an artists’ marketplace of items created with discarded materials. Everyone is welcome to work inside a 400-square-foot design center, outfitted with sewing machines, a serger, a die-cut machine, a button-making machine, T-shirt hot press, and more than 300 reference books. The inspirational space earned a feature on Apartment Therapy, as well as Santa's nice list.