Service in Numbers: Reflecting on my time with UW Botanic Gardens

A woman smiles at the camera. There is water and a beaver lodge in the background.
Rebecca in Yesler Swamp at the Center for Urban Horticulture, with a beaver lodge in the background.

My name is Rebecca Janssen and I am an AmeriCorps member serving with UW Botanic Gardens as the Adult Environmental Education Coordinator. The day that this is posted, August 15th, is the final day of my service. I was looking recently at a little half-sheet flyer promoting summer and some fall adult education programs. As I was reading through the list, it was really exciting to realize how many of those I had been involved with – 15 of the 22 classes listed! Whether it was just a quick email to an instructor to see what dates worked for them, or reaching out to a new instructor and working out class details as well as scheduling, it was great to see so many things that I have worked on behind the scenes making their way out into the world and taking place.

But that was just one part of what I did while I was with UW Botanic Gardens. I was given a lot of opportunities and was able to help out with a lot more things than I had anticipated. My supervisor, Jessica Farmer, had asked me to write a blog post reflecting on my time here. Writing a narrative of one moment of my service, or even a couple, didn’t seem like it would encapsulate all that I’ve been able to do. And I like numbers, so an infographic seemed like the way to go. Enjoy.

I went into this position knowing I would be helping to develop a series of classes for ecological restoration professionals (a field I had no familiarity with), maybe help with a few other classes, and revamp the general class feedback evaluations. I had no idea about all of the other things that I would be able to play a role in. Serving with AmeriCorps is not something I anticipated doing after finishing grad school, but it has been a wonderful opportunity. This position has helped me solidify an interest in adult education and evaluation, given me more confidence in working in a leadership role, and generally broadened my nonprofit experience.

Thank you to the committee members, other volunteers, and instructors I worked with. Thank you to UW Botanic Gardens as a whole for providing a wonderful environment for my service, and Jessica especially for trusting that I could do this and supporting me along the way.