MLK Day 2023: NWF Education Team Plants Seeds of Service

NWF   |   February 2, 2023

In the fall of 2022, the Education & Engagement Department leadership team, led by the Vice President of Education & Engagement Kim Martinez, started to prepare a team-wide planning meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, during the week of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service. The MLK Day of Service is often dubbed “A Day On, Not a Day Off’ and is the only federal holiday designated a national day of service. The timing of the meeting allowed us to come together as a team and volunteer at the Lauderdale Lakes Children’s Garden on MLK Day, working alongside NWF Habitat Steward, Florida Master Gardener, and Former City Commissioner Beverly Williams.

Local volunteers at the Lauderdale Lakes Children’s Garden. Credit: Carolyn Millard
NWF Education staff weeding and planting. Credit: Carolyn Millard

The National Wildlife Federation has been working in Broward County, Florida more than 20 years, building a deep partnership with the Broward County municipal government and Broward County Public Schools, the 6th largest school district in the United States. The NWF Education team has worked with Commissioner Williams for nearly ten years, supporting tree giveaways, school pollinator gardens and tree plantings, and many other community-based events with support from the Community Foundation of Broward. Commissioner Williams founded the Children’s Garden in 2013 on an underutilized lot near three schools that regularly work with NWF. It’s a space for youth of all ages to learn the basics of gardening, from preparing the soil to harvesting produce, with the hopes that the hands-on experience will ignite a passion for gardening and nature. The garden also provides fresh produce to community members, from fresh tomatoes to eggplant.

Credit: Carolyn Millard

On Monday, January 16th, over a dozen NWF Education & Engagement staff from around the country arrived in sunny South Florida (some straight from the airport!) and immediately got to work under the guidance of Commissioner Williams. We pulled weeds, watered, pruned, and planted alongside over a dozen neighborhood volunteers of all ages. We also brought donations of gloves, hand tools, perennial native plants, a gift card for future garden purchases, and cupcakes to celebrate Commissioner William’s birthday.

The entire NWF Education & Engagement team would like to thank Beverly Williams and the Lauderdale Lakes Children’s Garden community for allowing us to experience, in person, the impact of the thriving community garden. If you missed the 2023 MLK Day of Service, don’t wait until next year. Every day is an opportunity to connect with and serve your community—you can clean up a public space, volunteer at a local community garden, or even organize your own event!

A group shot celebrating a successful day of service. Credit: Carolyn Millard