Bonner Leaders Volunteer with Conservancy

For the last few months two students from the College of Charleston have been volunteering with the Charleston Parks Conservancy as part of the four-year Bonner Leaders Program, which encourages students to be engaged in community service and civic involvement.

College of Charleston’s Bonner students perform about 300 hours of community service and leadership development training over the course of the school year. In exchange, these students receive a $2,000 stipend in their financial aid package.

Meet our Bonners working to improve the parks and green spaces around Charleston while connecting people to their parks.

Katie Kerns  

Kerns is a sophomore at the College of Charleston and an honors student studying geology. She participates in projects and committees dealing with sustainability. She is also involved with RUF, a Christian college ministry.

Kerns enjoys “anything to do with the outdoors, getting to know communities, working hard, art and lots of laughter.”

This summer, Kerns took a break from volunteering with the Conservancy to work as the nature education coordinate as a summer camp. She’s putting together lessons for girls ranging from ages 8 to 17 and helping them learn how to connect to their environment. She said the Conservancy “really helped inspire me with this job.”

Why did you want to work with the Charleston Parks Conservancy?

I have always loved service, so when I saw an opportunity to be with others who felt the same way, I simply applied! I never expected to be chosen, but so far it has been a rewarding experience. I chose to work with the Conservancy because I wanted to work outside and in a different capacity than I had before. (My previous service was more direct and dealing with homelessness in Columbia.) Essentially I wanted to connect with people who love being outdoors, enjoy company of others, and to learn about what it takes to run and maintain public places (including the plants).

What have you learned working with the Conservancy?

So far I have learned the importance of communication within and outside of the organization. The Conservancy works most efficiently when everyone knows what events are coming up and what their role is. This may sound silly, but I have really seen how each part of the Conservancy has its own role but how they can aid the other sections. This communication also helps promote the Conservancy in the community, and when the community is aware of the activities, services and the existence of the Conservancy, the Conservancy can better achieve its mission

What is your favorite Charleston park?



Ed Hewitt  

Hewitt is double majoring in hospitality and tourism management and business administration at the College of Charleston. His post-college plans include attending culinary school while working full-time in a kitchen.

Hewitt wanted to be part of the Bonner program because he loves community services and program fits perfectly with the mission of service learning.

Why did you want to work with the Charleston Parks Conservancy?

Freshmen year the Bonners (participants) took a trip to San Francisco where I fell in love with gardening! After that, I returned to school and set out to find a community partner that would have more to do with the environment and gardening than desk work.

What have you learned working with the Conservancy?

I’ve learned many gardening skills as well as just plain ol’ interpersonal skills.

What is your favorite Charleston park?

Allan Park – it just looks so great! 

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