Learning by Leading™ @ UCF

Students, students everywhere! We are excited to announce that beginning this fall semester we are dramatically increasing student opportunities at the UCF Arboretum through implementing the Learning by Leading™ @ UCF Program.  The Learning by Leading™ (LxL) Program was developed by the University of California, Davis Arboretum, and is organized around the premise that students learn best by leading.  The LxL program gives students opportunities to engage in high-level, authentic leadership experiences that enable them to have a greater impact on our programs. UCF joined the LxL community of practice in March 2019, with leaders from other university arboretum and public garden programs.

Our first LxL @ UCF cohort includes four teams—Community Farm and Garden, Greenhouse and Nursery, Bee Campus USA Pollinators, and Arboretum Gardens—each mentored by Arboretum staff members.  The teams each have two paid student co-coordinators (CoCos) who help develop, plan and implement projects for their team of interns.  The interns were interviewed and hired by the CoCo’s and receive academic credit for the internship. Each team currently has between two and four interns. We anticipate that the number of interns will increase to up to 10 interns per team for some of the teams! This program has allowed us to increase internships at the Arboretum from our usual six per semester to 14 for this fall semester.  Along with increasing the number of interns per team, we plan to add new teams in the areas of urban forestry, stormwater and waterways, and natural resource management. The possibilities are endless!

During this inaugural LxL @ UCF semester our Community Farm and Garden Team embarked on an inter-generational project with the Rosen School of Hospitality Management where seniors from local community centers, and members of LIFE at UCF are teaming up with our students to seed, propagate, plant and harvest Fall garden produce.  This bountiful harvest will be used in an end of semester Harvest Feast Celebration organized by an event planning class at Rosen.

Our Greenhouse and Nursery Team has successfully planned and executed three plant sales raising approximately $1,400 to support our program. Each sale was scheduled for two hours, but we haven’t made it past 45 minutes before selling out!

Our Bee Campus USA Pollinator Team designed and led the planting of the newest of three campus pollinator gardens located at the business administration courtyard (see Environmental Horticulture story in this newsletter). They also oversee weekly volunteer shifts for the planting, watering and weeding of this new garden and the existing campus pollinator gardens.

Last, but not least, the Arboretum Gardens Team is working on the design of the first garden to be planted as part of the Arboretum Master Plan that was unveiled at our Spring Friend-Raiser event!  This special garden will be planted during our Whittier’s Walk Boardwalk sign dedication on Saturday, November 23, from 9 – 11 AM at the UCF Arboretum Park to commemorate this special occasion.   We hope you will join us!

As we work to demonstrate the powerful impact of this program for our students, we hope that donors will be inspired to provide sponsorships or endowments to support the growth and development of LxL @ UCF. We know donors care deeply about student leadership development and the LxL program provides genuine leadership opportunities that will help develop skilled employees and future environmental leaders who will help solve the world’s most pressing challenges.

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