April 22, 2011
A student paints a flower pot during one of the recent President's Leadership Fellows' fundraisers for the Tampa Heights Community Garden.
It was clear from the start that the community garden The University
of Tampa students were getting involved with was going to be about more
than seeds and shovels.
Now a year into the partnership, it is
even clearer that the Tampa Heights project is more about
intergenerational cooperation, team building and creating a sense of
"Even though there are struggles, it is great to put
that aside to get something accomplished," said John Jones '12. "We're
really proud of what we've been able to do. It's exceptional."
Jones is a
President’s Leadership Fellow
a four-year University scholarship program that accepts 25 freshmen
each year and refines their ability to lead in a global world.
a sport management major, is one of nine fellows in his cohort who are
working on a community change project required of all fellows in their
third year. The idea of the community change project is to facilitate a
sustainable project that develops students’ leadership skills. Part of
being a good leader means being a responsibly engaged citizen.
Itani '12, an international and cultural studies major, attended her
first Tampa City Council meeting in early April. The land where the
proposed garden will be is shared by the Florida Department of
Transportation and the City of Tampa. Their agreement needs to be
amended for the garden project to proceed. Though she was nervous, Itani
stood at the council’s podium and addressed the members, speaking on
behalf of the project.
“I can’t watch,” said Itani, president of STAND and Gateways mentor. “I have to be completely immersed.”
Fellows have designed a website, logo and brochure and have helped out with fundraising and promotions.
been helping us implement the project in a great way,” said Carrol
Josephs-Marshall of the Tampa Heights Stewardship Team, a division of
the Tampa Heights Civic Association which is overseeing the
implementation of an overall Neighborhood Plan adopted in the late
Within the last two years, the association has acquired community
center and greenway spaces where a garden will be planted. Community
gardens have been shown to act as a catalyst for neighborhood and
community development, providing nutritious food, reducing crime and
preserving green space. Members of the Tampa Heights community,
including Metropolitan Ministries, will have access to plots to grow
their own vegetables with the guidance of Tampa Garden Club members who
number more than 400.
“We want to bring it back to a vibrant
area,” said Josephs-Marshall. “The UT students have been awesome,
helping with the marketing plan, branding, with so many different
Aside from their work with the garden, UT fellows have
spent many Saturdays with members of the Tampa Heights community,
renovating what will become the community center.
aspect of tomorrow’s leaders, the students are using this project as a
model for community action,” said Kitty Wallace of the Tampa Garden
Club. “We just love it that they are on board, bringing their
perspective to the table.”
One of the biggest impacts they have
is their dedication to seeing the project through to the end, said Lena
Young, board member of the Tampa Heights Civic Association.
the end of the semester, the students don’t go away,” Young said. “That
for me is one of the big, big benefits. We know the whole plan will
continue until completed. We’re very impressed with the caliber of
students and very satisfied with the work they’ve done.”
Jamie Pilarczyk, Web Writer
Sign up for
UT Web Alerts