Earlier this year, the Allen Centennial Gardens welcomed a new director, Ben Futa. With him came a fresh perspective, innovative ideas and a few new faces. During a typical season the garden is maintained with the help of four student interns who work on general garden tasks throughout the summer. After consideration of the garden’s resources, Futa decided to create new positions open to a wider range of students.
“The Allen Centennial Gardens is an educational and cultural hub on campus, providing meaningful and unique learning opportunities for students,” says Futa. “I arrived with a goal to develop new programming and events to engage with UW students. It was a natural and logical evolution that new initiatives would be coordinated by a dynamic team of student leaders. In other words, programming for students, by students.”
The garden currently offers six year-round student positions in addition to the standard summer internships. Below are the students who hold these positions:
Saige Henkel is the Public Garden and Leadership Intern and works closely with Futa on a variety of administrative tasks. She is a junior in her second year of the Professional Landscape Architecture program, and she designed a new bulb lawn that will be installed later this fall.
Roberto Leon is the Marketing and Outreach Intern and focuses primarily on growing and shaping the Garden’s social media presence. He also works on upcoming events and generating content for the Garden’s monthly e-newsletter. Leon is a senior studying Psychology and Life Science Communications.
Josh Steger is the Education and Community Programs Intern and works to facilitate educational programming and garden events while fostering meaningful partnerships with both the surrounding community and UW-Madison. Steger is a senior majoring in Community and Environmental Sociology and Horticulture.
Taylor Stenglein is the Plant Records Intern and is currently inventorying the Garden’s wide variety of plants. Over the winter, Stenglein will work with a development team to create an online and interactive plant database. She is a senior Horticulture student and was this past season’s Rock Garden Intern.
Mara Redding is the Event Management Intern, one of the newest positions available for students. She deals primarily with rental requests including weddings and retreats and also coordinates with garden staff and volunteers for other garden events. Redding is a senior in her third year of the Professional Landscape Architecture program, and she designed a drought-tolerant perennial border garden that will be installed in early 2016.
Carissa Unger, a senior in the Horticulture Department, recently re-joined the team as the Sustainability Intern with a focus on implementing sustainability initiatives, programs and projects in the Garden. Unger was the former Edible Garden Intern and is currently working on installing recycling receptacles and accessible bike racks throughout the garden.