Inaugural Youth Fellowship Class Sets Course for Environmental Service

Education has always been at the core of the Missouri Botanical Garden’s mission. The Garden’s Youth Fellowship Program, launched in late 2019, is the newest chapter in this effort to inspire the next generation of plant professionals and environmental stewards.

Established through a generous gift from longtime Garden supporters Dave and Mary Tognoni and contributions from the Langenbach endowment and other donors, the Youth Fellowship Program is designed to honor youth for their environmental impacts and provide them with public recognition, as well as financial support for their next academic endeavors. 

We wanted to focus on a plan of action that would both maximize the impact of an individual’s action and create an environmental mindset to last beyond the duration of our action plan.

Adina Cazacu-De Luca, Youth Fellowship Program Participant

In its first year, the Youth Fellowship Program has recognized six high school seniors in the St. Louis region for their work and passion for the environment. These students have developed and planned an environmental service project on the topic of waste reduction, which will be implemented at various locations throughout the area. 

“We wanted to focus on a plan of action that would both maximize the impact of an individual’s action and create an environmental mindset to last beyond the duration of our action plan,” says Adina Cazacu-De Luca, who plans to study Sustainable Development and Public Health next fall at Columbia University. This action plan involves crayon collecting at local restaurants to be donated to schools, as well as clothing swaps held at high schools and churches to encourage more secondhand shopping options and keep old clothes from ending up in landfills. 

Public education is another important component of the program is education; the students have been tasked with putting together educational materials on this environmental issue and delivering the information to a public audience. The fellows aim to inspire members of the community to get involved and take action to help reduce waste for a healthier environment. 

Upon completion of the program, each of the six fellows will receive a $500 scholarship to be used for higher education. Rosati-Kain High School senior Rose Carey plans to use the money for a durable laptop to help with schoolwork and research. Carey is attending Murray State University in the fall and plans to major in Wildlife Conservation.

Congratulations to the 2020 Missouri Botanical Garden Youth Fellowship Program Participants!

Adina Cazacu-De Luca
Current school: John Burroughs School
College: Columbia University (NYC)

Taylor Eaton
Current school: Metro High School
College: George Washington University

Nataleigh Liddy
Current school: Francis Howell High School
College: Lindenwood University

Gabriella Diebold
Current school: Fort Zumwalt South High School
College: Southeast Missouri State

Rose Carey
Current school: Rosati-Kain High School
College: Murray State University

Nhat Nguyen
Current School: St. Mary’s High School
College: Grand Canyon University


Samantha Sorrick
Outdoor Youth Corps Instructor

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