Rowan College of South Jersey (RCSJ) and the Cumberland County Campus Educational Foundation hosted a Community Garden event in celebration of Earth Day on April 22. Students from the college’s Adult Center for Transition (ACT) played a key role in the event and in the Community Garden throughout the semester.
ACT, according to Michael Lemon, Administrative ACT program instructor, “provides young adults with disabilities an opportunity to navigate the college campus, develop work readiness skills, enhance basic skills and digital literacy skills.” Lemon also noted the program gives students a chance to “experience job sampling, and for those interested, to develop college readiness skills all while attending the college with their peers.”
Lemon selected ACT students Patricia Allen and Aleyzia Wilson, to speak on the program and stated how proud he is of their progress.
“Both students are independent young adults who have the potential to succeed living independently one day,” said Lemon, an employee of the college since 2011, working his first year on Cumberland’s campus. “These two students have not only grown over the last two semesters, but also have been my go-to students showing myself around the campus.”
Ahead of the event on April 22, the two students shared their thoughts about the importance of Earth Day. “Our world and community are filled with trash and it’s not healthy for our planet,” said Allen. “It helps to clean all around.”
“Without Earth, we won’t be here,” Wilson added.
Maria LeBlanc, director of Foundation and Alumni at RCSJ Cumberland campus, came up with the idea to put on the Community Garden event. The program was held at the Victor D’Alessandro Herb Garden and the Jean and Chick Mahoney Flower Garden spaces.
“The driving force behind it was trying to build a synergy between the community, the college and the students for Earth Day,” she explained.
During the spring semester, LeBlanc, who was born with a green thumb, taught ACT students about different types of plants in the campus’ greenhouse and was excited about their participation.
“The students planted flowers and herbs to develop a beautiful presentation for the event. They were so passionate about it,” said LeBlanc. “I think that the students are the heart of the Community Garden. They are the ones who developed all of the flowers, the planting and even the landscape design around both spaces.”
Allen is a volunteer at Rise and Shine Ministries in Millville, and Wilson is an avid sports fan and music lover. Wilson, who spoke at the event, mentioned that she used the program as an opportunity to get over her fear of public speaking.
Both students have enjoyed their time at RCSJ and expressed how the ACT program has assisted in their development. “It’s helped with my reading and writing,” Wilson, a Dallas Cowboys fan, revealed. “I’m getting much better at it.”
“I really like the College,” said Allen, who is intent on being a positive role model for children. “I always dreamed about going to college and just enjoying life. It really helps me learn and I love learning new things.”
For more about the Adult Center for Transition (ACT) program, visit RCSJ.edu. For information about the Cumberland County Campus Education Foundation, visit RCSJ.edu/CCCEF.