Growing Up in the Garden

Shaquana Boykin, center, with members of BBG’s Education and GreenBridge teams.

Shaquana Boykin, center, with members of BBG’s Education and Community Greening teams.

When 13-year-old Shaquana Boykin joined the Garden Apprentice Program (GAP), her hope for the program was “to meet lots of new people and guide them.” At 24, Shaquana has met and guided more people in the Garden and beyond than she likely ever imagined.

At BBG, Shaquana developed her innate talent for teaching by helping her fellow apprentices. While she flourished in the program, Shaquana’s home life was in considerable distress, and at 17, she entered foster care. She was emancipated shortly thereafter and has lived on her own since graduating from Sheepshead Bay High School in 2008.

Shaquana applied to college on her own and earned an associate degree in liberal arts from Kingsborough Community College. She is now working on a bachelor’s degree at CUNY’s New York City College of Technology where she’s studying pre-law with an eye toward further study in environmental law.

The Garden continues to be a sanctuary in Shaquana’s life, a haven where she can learn, grow and prosper. She returned to BBG as a program assistant for GAP in 2009 and created accessible, fun and intellectually rigorous lesson plans on subjects like the water cycle and watersheds.

Shaquana continued to shine and went on to become a Discovery Programs instructor for several years, helping to plan and implement drop-in Discovery Stations for families and kids’ groups. In 2013, she was selected for the Natural Leaders Legacy Camp, a national training program hosted by Children & Nature Network to develop next generation environmental leaders and educators, and upon her return accepted an AmeriCorps position to help victims of Hurricane Sandy on Coney Island.

Today’s Dream, Tomorrow’s Future

Today, Shaquana’s dream of guiding others continues to grow and blossom, as she recently accepted a Public Allies AmeriCorps position with the Flatbush Tenant Coalition as a Center for Neighborhood Leadership organizer.

Thanks to BBG friends who not only support the Garden annually but have also made planned gifts that benefit its long-term initiatives, Shaquana and many others have received extraordinary educational experiences at BBG, and are growing up to become inspiring leaders in their communities.

A planned gift can range from a charitable gift annuity to a gift from your IRA or a bequest in your will. You do not need to have a fortune to give a lasting gift to BBG. Invested over time, any size gift can make a significant impact.

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