lucas turner

#buildOn #GivingTuesday by Lucas Turner

Today is #GivingTuesday and is the perfect day to join the buildOn movement! For 3 years, I have been completely immersed in service, education and making a difference with buildOn. My journey has included breaking ground on 22 primary schools in 5 different countries, engaging in meaningful community service alongside incredible high school students in the South Bronx and speaking to large groups of motivated university students about the power of global education. Every single day, we are breaking the cycle of poverty, illiteracy and low expectations through service and education! 

From living in villages in Nepal and Senegal, to witnessing the transformational impact international travel has on young people, to experiencing the joy an adult feels when they learn to write their name for the first time; buildOn has provided me with endless opportunities to become a student of the world, and use what I have learned to make a larger positive impact. 

It is never too early or too late to get involved with something bigger than yourself! I would LOVE to help you take your first step on that journey. Building a school with buildOn and traveling on Trek can be for ANYONE. In my time leading Treks, I have taken everyone from C-level executives, celebrities, families, college sororities, interior designers and high school students to build primary schools. YOU can fund a school, break ground on that school, live with host families, engage in cultural activities and push yourself outside of your comfort zone! 

Let's do this! There is no better time to start than today! Shoot me an email at or comment below and I'll get you started on fundraising for your buildOn school and Trek! Also, if you just want to give to buildOn for #givingtuesday, donate here!


From the Field: Tastes Like REAL Chicken by Lucas Turner

I did not grow up on a farm. I indulged on McNuggets as a kid. I bought the cheapest chicken breast in college. I definitely never claimed to be a vegetarian. I did not care how chickens were raised, killed or sold. But I love chicken. And now I care.

The words free-range and organic only entered my vocabulary a couple of years ago. As the terms starting popping up in the media, I started to pay attention. Wait, you mean to tell me that the chickens I just ate never saw a trace of daylight? They were pumped full of steroids and antibiotics so they could be egg-laying machines? Companies like Tyson and Hormel are making a killing off of an incredibly cruel industry and not paying their farmers fairly? Ah, hell no. Watch this. 

I started working in the developing world in 2013. Within every village I have visited, there are chickens. LOTS of chickens. Roosters that refuse to let you sleep past 4:30 am - little jerks. Cute little chicks that follow their mother hens anywhere and everywhere. Chickens taking full reign over their owners front, back and side yards. Chickens that have never experienced rapid body growth. Happy chickens. 

Remember, I love eating chicken. But, I believe in respecting all animals. The reality of eating chicken is that the chicken eventually has to die in order for it to become dinner. 

WARNING - Stop reading if you’re going to accuse me of being cruel or if you genuinely don’t believe in eating dead over alive chicken. 

Over time, I have developed a bucket list desire - to assist in the entire process of a chicken going farm-to-table (AKA I wanted to kill, pluck, clean, cook and eat a chicken). This desire came from a curiosity and a need to understand proper v inhumane practices. Call me a weirdo, whatever. But, in order to properly pay respect to the chicken I had a criteria:

  • The chicken had to have had a happy clucking life free of steroids, cages and machinery. 
  • The chicken had to be bought at a fair price (not the $1.99 special from the Wal-Mart Supercenter).
  • The process had to be supervised by a professional.
  • The whole experience had to be documented. 

So the day came - March 5, 2015 - the day the saying "running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off" finally made sense to me.

Lucky for me, my trek coordinator job with buildOn takes me across the globe to lead school building treks in villages that do not have access to a proper education. On a recent trek to Haiti, my group was craving protein, since trek typically consists of vegetarian cuisine. I saw this as my opportunity to check another item off the ol’ bucket list and to make a cultural activity out of it for the group. Cue the song Circle of Life and enjoy the photos. 

The chickens were bought from a local farmer in the village for around 700 GDES = $14.94 USD. Check the fair price off of the criteria list. 

The buildOn Haiti cook, Anna, has been cooking for trek teams for years. She has seen it all and cooked it all, always with the biggest smile on her face. She chuckled as I explained through our translator that we wanted to help kill the chicken. She was probably thinking, “How else do they get their chicken? This is an every day activity for me.” If anyone could be called a chicken killing professional, it’s Anna. Without hesitating, Anna agreed and a plan was put into action. 

Come to find out, I wasn't the only person in our group that had an interest in helping. One of the trek members, Leah, took the honors of initiating the kill with Anna's close assistance. Between the three of us, it was a very educational, interesting and tough process. Leah's face says it all. I was blown away that the chicken literally took off running after its neck was chopped. 

Once things calmed down and our rooster was definitely dead, we cleaned him with a lemon, butter and water mixture. Next, to loosen the feathers, we poured boiling hot water over them. The feathers were so beautiful; they reminded me that everything is perfectly placed on purpose and that there is beauty in everything in this world. But, as beautiful as they were, they had to be plucked in order for us to have a chicken dinner. 

To finish up the preparation, the chicken had the be held over the fire to sanitize it more and to drain a lot of the blood. Lastly, Anna used the knife to filet the chicken meat. We were amazed at how underneath the feathers and skin there was a delicious looking piece of chicken meat that looked exactly like the chicken we buy from the grocery store... I don't know what we were expecting?! But, it was reassuring that our chicken was 100% organic and free range. 

Finally, we had a delicious dinner of chicken, veggies, rice and fruit. Needless to say, the protein tasted a tad bit better because of the hard work we put in to preparing it and the respect we paid the chicken. If you have any interest of participating in this chicken farm-to-table process, my advice is to DO IT. You will have a whole new appreciation for the chicken you eat and will hopefully start to be a little more conscious with your food purchases. Bon appétit! 


PS - Watch this if you want to experience the CUTENESS OVERLOAD I experienced in the village. Mothers are awesome. 

Learning From 365 Days of Uncertainty by Lucas Turner

— Seth Godin

Taking advantage of opportunities. Taking risks. Taking a step back. Taking my career on a whirlwind. Taking the hands of loved ones. Taking full control over my happiness. 

2014 was a year for taking. 

Yes, I gave. I gave my time. I gave hope. I gave expertise. I gave love. I gave advice. I gave my best. Giving is naturally a part of who I am. But as I closed the chapter of 2014, I have been focusing on what I took from my journey around the sun and I am using it as momentum for 2015. It is shaping up to be just as unpredictable and candid as 2014. 

Every month in 2014 brought new challenges, new people, craziness and everything I needed in the present moment. There were a crazy amount of kickass moments where I had to pinch myself, but equally I had those shitty moments where I was left wondering why the eff things were sucking so bad. If someone would have told me in January what my life would have been like in December, or explained the revelations I would have or the accomplishments & failures I would encounter throughout the year, I would have laughed my ass off.

But, being open to the uncertainties is what makes life fun. And that is exactly what I did. I let the uncertainty fuel me. It kept me guessing, kept me motivated, kept me courageous and kept me honest. Some months were more adventurous, some more challenging and some went by in a flash. However, I can confidently say that I grew and positively evolved from every single month. 

2014 best year ever? It's definitely up there. 

- Took a chance on fundraising and reached my $5,000 goal to fund #lucastouganda. 
- Took a step back and held my family close as we came together to fight cancer. We won. 
- Took off on the adventure of a lifetime to Uganda as a field volunteer with charity: water.
- Honed in on my photo & storytelling skills.

- Drove through the Ugandan bush in a truck (l learned how to drive a manual) with my translators Fred and Dennis. We laughed a lot.

- Finished clean water assessments in 65 villages in Uganda & took over 5,000 photos.
- Visited Krochet Kids Uganda, rafted the Nile and showered in waterfalls at Sipi Falls.
- Spent time at Abide Family Center & took a 12 hr bus to the Africa Yoga Project in Nairobi.
- Took photos at a baby elephant orphanage, kissed a giraffe and practiced yoga, a lot.
- Explored the Kenyan coast, chatted with Mama Aliya & sailed a sailboat in Lamu, Kenya.

- Drank coconuts from a tree, did sunrise yoga and chased dolphins at 6am in Zanzibar. 
- Ended my time in Africa with a 3-day safari in Murchison National Park. I SAW HIPPOS!
- Wandered the streets of Istanbul and caves of Cappadocia & then went to a turkish bath.
- Stayed with new and old friends in Berlin, Amsterdam and Gloucester, England.
- Got my annual sis/bro passport stamp in Barcelona, Spain - drank mucho sangria & gin.

- Returned to NYC jobless & had the WORST reverse culture shock. I cried in the park.
- Had 4 job interviews, went to Boston, went
home to reset & returned to NYC to hustle.
- Resumed my role as "resident house elf"
at my sister, Emily's, apartment. She rocks.
- Met the badass Miki Agrawal & partnered w/ her to make Do Cool Sh*t a movement.
- Started training for Boulder 70.3 Ironman.
- Accepted a summer internship with TOMS.

- Worked on DCS @ Centre for Social Innovation, a hub of NYC's most talented. 
- Woke up each day and either swam 40 laps or ran at least 6 miles. 
- Learned how to use inDesign and Photoshop.
- Lived off of $600 for the entire month. 
- Spent Memorial Day on Nantucket with my 
friends from THINX - we painted and beached.
- Biked 50 miles along the Hudson River & on
New Jersey's Palisades cycling highway. 

- Executed the first ever Do Cool Sh*t Meet-Up
WILD Williamsburg - hosted over 85 Doers.
- Launched the DCS Bootcamp Website!
- I left NYC for the summer literally buzzing.
- Roadtripped to LA w/ my badass mom, saw the
Grand Canyon, ate In-N-Out and sang a lot.
- Moved into a beach studio owned by a hippie.
- FINISHED Boulder 70.3 Ironman in 6:34:25!
- Kicked off my dream internship at TOMS.
- I auditioned for SURVIVOR for the 2nd time.

- I was blown away by having a complete stranger feel like I had known them forever. 
- I spent July 4th in Malibu with some of the 
coolest new friends LA could have given me.
- Went to a Dodger's game, to Disney-Lund, Soul-Cycled, explored DTLA & chilled in WEHO.
- I road-tripped to Sequoia National Park w/ my soul-sister Sarah. We chatted, camped, ran out of gas & fist pumped into Santa Barbara. 
- I modeled for TOMS Holiday Catalog - what?!

- I met #TEAMTURNER for a TX family triathlon.
- I won the TOMS watermelon eating challenge.
- Took 2 spontaneous road trips along the
amazing PCH to San Diego & Santa Barbara. 
-The Head & the Heart @ The Hollywood Bowl.
- Flew to San Fran for an interview w/ buildOn.
- Hosted a TOMS Giving Night for 30+ guests.
- Made the toughest decision to close my 
LA chapter & had the hardest goodbye ever.
- Drove thru Vegas, Zion, CO & KS w/ my dad.

- Made the incredibly tough choice to stop working on Do Cool Sh*t.
- Packed my car & hit the road w/ Sarah to NYC & celebrated 24 in CHI w/ tons of amazing pals. 
- Started my Trek Coordinator job w/ buildOn & earned my 1st salaried paycheck - woo hoo!
- Earned my WFR certification in Detroit
(I got you for head trauma or travel diarrhea).
- Saw Broadway shows Once & Rock of Ages!
- Moved into a studio apt in Stamford, CT. 

- Spent a weekend in Boston w/ camp friends.
- Hosted my parents for the weekend in CT.
- Ran the Staten Island 1/2 Marathon w/ my dad.
- Interviewed 30+ Bronx students for trek.
- Took off to Nepal for my first 2 buildOn treks.
- Briefed Kathmandu & flew over the Himalayas.
- Lived in Jamunipur Village, broke ground on
buildOn's 700th school & celebrated Diwali.
- Danced in traditional Nepalese clothing, took
 cold bucket baths & spoke Tharu language.

- Scaled the Monkey Temple, saw a cremation ceremony & received tika from a Hindu priest.
- Welcomed 18 Dubai Cares trekkies to Nepal.
- Dug a latrine, failed at balancing things on my 
head & ate with my hands ... also ate SNAILS!
- Missed flights, took buses & slept in the UAE.
- Attended my first buildOn gala.
- Went to KC for Thanksgiving & faced one of 
my biggest fears eye to eye - I won. 
- A million emotions - Nov. ended - thank God.

My buildOn "unselfie" made it on Mashable.
- I became incredibly close to my siblings.
- I was inspired by charity: water's TRIBUTE 
event in NYC & connected w/ old colleagues.
- I attended many a Christmas parties.
- Led Haiti pre-trek workshops for my students.
- Began hating my studio & planned NYC move.
- Flew home for Christmas - lots of family time.
- Ended the year by partying w/ some of my
closest camp friends in Miami - bc why not?