Youth Forward Scholarship Winter 2017 – Building Gardens and Growing Hope

Name: Victoria Adeline Lewis
From: Villa Rica, GA
Grade: Sophomore
School: Carrollton High School
Votes: 0

At
the start of my junior year I began the IB Program, within which
you’re required to design and execute your own service project; I
chose to create a butterfly pollinator garden with the goal of
beautifying my community, and on a larger scale, creating an abode
for the Monarch butterflies that are facing quasi-extinction in North
America.

I
began the endeavor in September of 2016, partnering with two friends
of mine, Emily and Pate. First, we had to pick a location, and to do
so I had to reach out to the leaders in my community. My first call
was the Division Superintendent of Carrollton’s Facility &
Parks Maintenance, Kent Johnston, who encouraged me to plot my garden
along the Green Belt, an 18-mile pathway connecting many integral
parts of our city. We chose a location along the Green Belt known as
Laura’s Park because it had been previously overlooked in
Johnston’s beautification efforts.

The
next step was funding: we set up a GoFundMe explaining our
initiative, and were astounded to see members of the community
lending their monetary support. We also reached out to our local
Spade & Trowel Club, who were more than happy to support us. We
raised $537 through a GoFundMe and the Spade & Trowel Club.

Johnston
was working on creating our bed for us, so our next step was to
source plants. Johnston put us in contact with the Horticulture
Supervisor, Ms. Carrie Burnette. We visited her at her greenhouse,
where she works to cultivate the plants that bloom all around
Carrollton. We talked and gawked at plants for hours, and I could’ve
stayed hours more. We set a date for the four of us to go plant
shopping, and then I hit a barricade. The bed that Mr. Johnston said
he would have done by April was not done. We had to push the plant
shopping date. As an officer of Key Club, I had planned to have Key
Club members out volunteering the day plants went in the ground, but
that bed was nowhere to be seen by the time school finished. This
went on till June, frustrating me to no end. However, I waited
patiently, knowing that Johnston had many projects on his plate.

Eventually,
Johnston finished our bed and we spent a Saturday morning buying and
planting plants with Ms. Carrie, taking only a few hours of hard work
to infuse a huge garden bed with beautiful blooms. The plants bloomed
and bursted with butterflies throughout the whole summer, many of
whom were Monarchs. I discovered my passion for plants through this
project, and I am planning on attending UGA in the fall to get a
bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture, so that I can continue
working with plants. It was amazing to see an idea through to the end
and achieve something so rewarding in the way that it brightens my
community, and I am thankful that I was a part of it.


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