The Charleston Parks Conservancy announces its inaugural class of Community Horticulture Fellows, a groundbreaking initiative aimed at fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion within the field of horticulture and community engagement. As a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing 25 of Charleston’s vibrant parks and green spaces, the Conservancy recognizes that diversity is critical to achieving its mission. In 2022, the Conservancy kicked off a $2.5 million campaign to fund the program’s first five years with a donation of $150,000 over three years from Bank of America.
According to a study from the University of Delaware about Racial Equity in Public Garden Leadership, “it is important to acknowledge that diversity in all areas is necessary to create a relevant and inclusive organization in the 21st century.” The Community Horticulture Fellowship program is an equal opportunity program providing opportunities to those disproportionately represented in the horticulture industry by eliminating institutional barriers and increasing diversity and inclusion.
“Our commitment to diversity is rooted in the belief that inclusive representation drives innovation, creativity and sustainable change,” said Darlene Heater, Executive Director of the Charleston Parks Conservancy. “Parks are spaces in the community that engage a diverse range of visitors. As Charleston Parks Conservancy works to serve the community, it is important for us to reflect the needs, preferences and priorities of all residents.”
The Community Horticulture Fellowship program is designed to provide individuals from underrepresented backgrounds with skills in public park management, botanical garden supervision, educational programming, and public spaces in South Carolina. The fellows will start in October and will focus on horticultural maintenance and management, plant design and planting, plant health and nutrition, STEM education, and how to use parks to create healthy, thriving communities.
The inaugural cohort of fellows embody different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives, which will contribute to a more holistic approach to park management and community engagement. The inaugural class of fellows:
- Hadasya “Sasha” Pramesti is originally from Jakarta, Indonesia, and has been living in Charleston, SC since 2010. She graduated from the College of Charleston with a degree in biology and a minor in environmental and sustainability studies. Pramesti is interested in the relationships between plants, culture and the environment and enjoys learning about food and agriculture’s roles.
- Kayla Pina graduated from the College of Charleston with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. After volunteering in the community, she worked as an assistant subcontract administrator, expediting projects and inventions for warfighters. Pina’s parents immigrated to the United States, which instilled the importance of cultural values. She is passionate about plant life and looks forward to bringing her interest in horticulture and her LatinX background to her fellowship.
Pramesti and Pina will spend 12 weeks each with Charleston County Parks and Recreation, Kiawah Conservancy, Moore Farms Botanical Garden, and Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden. They will spend 16 weeks with the Conservancy working in the 25 parks the Conservancy maintains, along with shadowing opportunities with Brookgreen Gardens, the City of Charleston Parks Department, Green Heart Project, Ables Landscape, and more. Fellows will work with mentors from the College of Charleston Sustainability Program, Clemson University Cooperative Extension, Charleston Horticulture Society, Bartlett Tree Experts, Slow Food Carolina, the Urban Farm at MUSC, and Trident Technical College Horticulture Technology Department. They will also participate in a leadership development program called Leadership Discovery through the Charleston Chamber of Commerce. Upon completion, The Conservancy will work with its partners and others to assist Cohort 1 Fellows in securing a leadership position in horticulture.
Community Horticulture Fellowship Founding Donors:
- Bank of America
- Mr. and Mrs. Charles McLendon, Jr.
- Coastal Community Foundation
- TD Charitable Foundation
- The Mark Elliott Motley Foundation
For more information about the Community Horticulture Fellowship program, visit charlestonparksconservancy.org/programs/community-horticulture-fellowships.
About the Charleston Parks Conservancy
The Charleston Parks Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring the people of Charleston to connect with their parks and create stunning public places and a strong community. For more than 15 years, the Conservancy has had a hand in renovating and beautifying 25 parks in partnership with the City of Charleston. Notable projects include the renovation of Colonial Lake, the Rose Pavilion at Hampton Park, Moultrie Playground, St. Julian Devine Community Center and Park, Magnolia Park and Community Garden, Medway Park and Community Garden, and Corrine Jones Community Garden. For more information, visit www.charlestonparksconservancy.org.