Thursday, August 18, 2022

Grow As We Go

My name is Aleyana Boothe. I am entering my junior year this fall semester majoring in Urban Ecology and minoring in Sustainability Studies. As a first-year student in the fall of 2020, I was determined not to let COVID interfere with my college experience. I decided to get involved on campus by joining clubs such as UNICEF, LEAF Club (our university’s environmental club), and SGA (Student Government Association).

In the spring of 2021, I communicated my interest in working on sustainability initiatives to a few SGA cabinet members.  I was directed to reach out to Ms. Branka Kristic (Director of Parent and Family Programs) as she was working on the addition of a family garden to our campus with our university’s Parent Council. I emailed her to suggest the inclusion of pollinator plants in the  

garden, to spread awareness about protecting bees and other pollinators. This email gave me the opportunity to be invited to the Parent Council meeting where Mr. Fred Soviero (Director of Grounds and Arboretum) addressed the creation of the Hofstra Family Garden. Afterwards, I attended a meeting with Mr. Houston Dougharty (Vice President of Student Affairs), Ms. Branka Kristic, and Mr. Demetrios Mihailidis (Vice President of the Hofstra Parent Council) to discuss the plan for the Hofstra Family Garden. We brainstormed and discussed various strategies to promote the family garden and focused on how students can become more involved.

The Hofstra Family Garden Logo Competition became the first project I worked on at Hofstra. From the end of the spring into the beginning of the fall, I communicated and met with various individuals to conduct the logo competition. In mid-fall of 2021, we formed a committee to choose the logo out of twenty-eight submissions to be the official logo for the Hofstra Family Garden. At our announcement event held in the student center atrium, we gave out participation gifts, announced our runners-up, and the winner, who was Joseph Pergola, a first-year student.

Additionally, in the spring of 2022 (this past semester), I organized an activity under the SGA Programming Committee to generate an uplifting playlist that would be located in the Family Garden. The only way students could access the playlist was through the QR code located in the garden which would get more students familiar with its location. While the QR code was in the garden it was scanned over forty times by current students, prospective students, and parents/guardians. 

Furthermore, the LEAF Club alongside other sustainability-involved students joined in the 

greenhouse to start growing plants propagated by Dr. Bennington (Chair of the GES (Geology, Environment, Sustainability) Department) early in the spring semester. Mr. Fred Soviero, Mr. Michael Runkel (Assistant Director of Grounds and Arboretum), and I used some of those pollinator plants in the Family Garden.

This upcoming academic year, there are plans to expand the Hofstra Family Garden as more pollinator gardens are added to our campus. There will be two pollinator gardens added to the academic side of our campus, one being located beside our admission building and the other by Monroe Hall.

Additionally, I will continue to work on my goal of more students finding out about the garden and its value to our campus.

When I came to Hofstra, working on projects related to a university family garden was not what I 

envisioned myself doing, but I could not be more thankful for being given this opportunity. I 

have learned so much from working on these projects with such amazing members of the Hofstra community. I am excited to see what other Family Garden projects I will complete during my last two years at Hofstra and the projects that may be completed after I graduate.

Aleyana Boothe

Student Representative of the Hofstra Family Garden