By Megan Singleton
I began at Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in January 2020, fresh out of college and eager to learn as an AmeriCorps VISTA. Little did I know, things would change drastically for the world in a matter of two short months. When the world shut down in March, so too did my new park, if only briefly. Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens reopened its doors in July 2020, and I was finally able to see and work the park in its full glory. As a global people, we struggled to find connection and solace. Many of us found it in the sunshine, the dirt, and the pleasure of growing things. I certainly did at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens.
In my time at Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, I have become an environmental steward and educator, an illustrator and graphic designer, a fundraiser, and even a birder! I have seen the effects climate change has had directly at this park, and more importantly, the effect it’s had on the surrounding community of Kenilworth and the greater area East of the river. I have been as greatly impacted by the beauty of this place as I have the people I’ve met inside its borders. My awe at the seasonality of this park, my peace roaming between the ponds, my joy at helping someone discover a new aspect of the gardens to love- all of it has shaped me. All of it has led to this new path ahead of me.
It is with excitement that I announce I’ll be attending the University of Pennsylvania beginning this summer to pursue a Master’s Degree in Landscape Architecture. This path has been intrinsically shaped by my time at Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, and I thank my current and former colleagues, volunteers, board members, and all of our partners for being an inspiration and encouragement to me as I decide to take this leap into a new career path.
I am so proud to have been part of the Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens community. My colleagues at Friends are so talented and work extremely hard to provide you with free WELLderness opportunities and organize volunteer events. Our partners bring you immersive nature camp programming (thanks Urban Adventure Squad!) and the ever-engaging Lotus & Water Lily festival (looking to you Park Service!), along with so many more that if I named them all, this would be a novel instead of an email.
Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this journey. I look forward to seeing FoKAG thrive under the hands of new (upcoming!) leadership, and feel that in the meantime, my coworkers Shannah and Alivia (and our amazing board and volunteers!) will continue the great work of making this incredible park thrive.
Wishing you well,