Name: Lucy Davis ’20 (M.S.)
Hometown: Ashland, Kentucky
Education: Undergraduate: Georgetown College, environmental science major and chemistry minor. Graduate: College of Charleston, Master of Science in Environmental and Sustainability Studies. Graduate: College of Charleston, Master of Public Administration.
Job title: Program Coordinator, Master of Science in Environmental and Sustainability Studies (EVSS) Program/Director, Sustainable Agriculture Program
How long have you worked at the College? I worked as a graduate assistant in the EVSS Program from 2015 to 2018 and in January 2018, I was hired full time as program coordinator. So, about 3.5 years.
What are your job responsibilities? I am the only administrator for our 80-person master’s program, so I wear many hats. I do everything from managing our program budget; advising students on courses to take and helping them frame their thesis projects; building our course schedules; writing annual reports; marketing and recruitment for our entire program; facilitating events such as orientations, professional development workshops and networking opportunities; advising our student association; and managing all our student workers.
Also, within our EVSS Program, I am the director of our Sustainable Agriculture Program, which consists of three downtown gardens and our 5-acre garden at Stono Preserve. In this role, I work with both undergraduate and graduate students that help me maintain and grow our gardens. I am in charge of deciding what, when and where we plant crops in our garden spaces and I order all resources that are needed in the gardens. I also build and maintain our community partnerships such as our partnership with the South Carolina Aquarium, the Gullah/Geechee Nation and the Green Heart Project, just to name a few. I facilitate workshops for planting, growing, harvesting, building raised beds and food prep and organize all our volunteer days that happen weekly during the semester and by appointment over the summer. I direct our education program, Project Inspire, so I work with teachers at the three partner schools on Johns Island, and my group does in-class lessons and then we coordinate field trips to Stono Preserve where we incorporate our specialized lesson plans and create stations where students can learn freely through hands-on experience. We also provide teachers online professional development opportunities and access to lesson plans so that they can continue to bring in sustainable agriculture practices into their everyday lessons. I also help write grants for our garden spaces that work to fund our outreach, student worker opportunities, resources and maintenance at the garden. I also bee-keep and help facilitate our beekeeping programs that we host biweekly at our garden spaces and provide opportunities to our students to become beekeeper certified. I also speak with donors and the Foundation Board and many other groups that request a tour of Stono Preserve and our garden spaces.
What do you like most about your job? There are so many great things about my job. I would say my favorite thing about my job is watching the students grow and follow their passions and getting to coach and advise them along the way. Then I love celebrating them as they find great opportunities once they have graduated.
What question do you get asked most in your job and what’s your typical answer? This is a great question. I get many versions of the same question daily, often even after sending an email to my students with all of the information outlined. I now send FAQs through a section of our newsletter called, Ask Lucy, and I hit on FAQs and answer them for the group. Then, when I get asked about what forms a student needs to complete their thesis, when is registration, why do I have a hold on my account, how can I apply for money to support my research, etc., etc., I can just point them in the direction of our newsletters. It’s been great for me and probably annoying for them, but that’s OK!
What’s your favorite location on campus and why? Our student gardens are absolutely my favorite place on campus. I love visiting our gardens at Warren Place, 7 College and our kitchen gardens at 26 Coming. Each garden space is managed by our students in our Sustainable Agriculture Program, and their efforts and energy to create accessible garden spaces with local native plants and delicious and fresh produce – and to create spaces that not only make our campus a better space, but also give back to the community – is so meaningful. I love seeing the students’ hard work and passions come to life, and I love seeing the gardens shift based on the needs of our campus and community.
What are your hobbies? I love hiking, camping, gardening, scuba diving, beekeeping, playing tennis, paddle boarding, reading, spending time with friends, exploring and trying new food and restaurants.
What personal and/or professional accomplishment are you most proud of? I think I am most proud of how much the gardens and our community engagement has improved within my time at the school. We have developed a program called Project Inspire that engages low-income schools on Johns Island to learn more about gardening in the classroom and outside of the classroom with field trips to Stono Preserve, where students get to be hands-on in the garden and learn about the Lowcountry landscape in their backyard. We provide free produce to Destiny Community Café, a pay-what-you-can café that provides fresh meals to people in need in the Charleston area, and we helped establish a garden in front of their café and maintain it weekly. We also give free food to other community kitchens such as the Stone Soup Collective, One80 Place, Lowcountry Food Bank and others to help provide for our community. We partner with organizations such as Healing Farms, an organization that works with people with disabilities after they have graduated high school to help teach them life skills and gain confidence in the world around them. We help Healing Farms throughout the year maintain their gardens and also provide them with resources to learn about what they are growing and how to harvest their food. We donate to the South Carolina Aquarium by providing chemical-free lettuce to the sea turtles in the Sea Turtle Hospital. We work with the Green Heart Project to help install gardens at schools, teach students about gardening and eating healthy, and empower them to learn about where their food comes from. Every year, we work with the Boy Scouts of America to help them learn about gardening, conservation, community engagement and nature and help the scouts earn badges. As a program, we have helped raise awareness about food insecurity, sustainable agriculture, gardening and food access in the Lowcountry.
Name a creative work (book, movie, performance, etc.) you enjoyed recently and why? I just finished reading for the second time Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man who Would Cure the World. This book is inspiring and shows how one person can make a difference in the world and expertly ties in academics, humanities, medical science, community support and engagement and is truly empowering. The title of this book is based on a Haitian proverb, “Beyond mountains there are more mountains,” which basically means, as you work to solve one problem, other problems will arise, and then you work to solve those problems, too, and that there is never a simple path, but it’s about persistence, support and hope.
What was your favorite TV show growing up? I have never really watched much TV and I didn’t watch much growing up because I was spending most of my time outside. I guess that provided a great foundation for pursuing a career in environmental science.
What’s next on your bucket list? My goal each year is to go somewhere new that I have never been before. Although I just got back from exploring Yellowstone and the Grant Tetons, this year I am hoping to visit a few new national parks and scuba dive in the Pacific Ocean.
What is something your campus colleagues would be surprised to know about you? I am the seventh Lucy Henderson in my family on my mother’s side. This is a family tradition for the eldest daughter to be named Lucy Henderson, and that Lucy then names her daughter Lucy Henderson. This has been going on in our family since the early 1800s. Here is to hoping I have a girl so all of these other Lucys don’t turn over in their grave.
What was your first job? I worked at Cold Stone Creamery and a Tim Hortons all through high school. Thankfully I was also playing soccer, because I am pretty sure I ate my weight in donuts and ice cream while working there.
What’s your favorite Lowcountry restaurant? Ah, so many to choose from! For Lowcountry cuisine maybe Poogan’s Porch, but Maligon and Basic Kitchen are also up there on my favorite places to eat in Charleston.
Describe your perfect day: Any day outside with great friends, great weather and a good book.
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