Youth Changemaker: Janiecia Aubrey

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Why I think it is important for Kansas government officials to operate in the light of day, rather than in secret, behind closed doors: 

Dallas sixth grader Janiecia Aubrey is a young yet accomplished gardner who believes that when a community grows plants together, they grow stronger.

Her passion for gardening and community improvement started early. At age 4, she grew tomatoes, okra and other crops with her grandmother. Then, in 2006 she started working at the Audelia Road library community garden, as part of an Earth Day project for Global Youth Service Day.  The garden helps Dallas kids and youth understand how plants—and many of our meals—grow. 

On that Earth Day, Janiecia recalls, "Many of the kids who stopped at the table did not garden.  At that time I was part of a 4H Club and Junior Master Gardener Club at the library." So it was no wonder she joined the library project and has been a dedicated and near-daily gardner there for the past seven years.

On that Earth Day, Janiecia recalls, "Many of the kids who stopped at the table did not garden.  At that time I was part of a 4H Club and Junior Master Gardener Club at the library." So it was no wonder she joined the library project and has been a dedicated and near-daily gardner there for the past seven years.

To engage other young people in the project, Janiecia now maintains a regular section on planting during the monthly community board meeting at the library. The project, she says, helps kids understand the importance of taking care of the earth and encourages them to feel responsibility for and ownership of their community.

Janiecia also leads the Lake Highlands group of Future Organic Farmers of America. This year, she is working to encourage kids living in neighborhood apartment complexes to grow herbs and one vegetable. 

"She has contributed to better policy by bridging a connection between apartment managers and kids to keep their community graffiti free and beautiful," says Janice Fowler, a master gardener in Lake Highlands and mentor to Janiecia. 

Janiecia focuses on a one-mile area of apartment complexes, asking the managers to make space for her a monthly newsletter on each of the properties. To reach people digitally, Janiecia uses Twitter and "an adult friend who regularly posts pictures on Facebook."  In October, she will start maintain a Facebook page.  "We are planning a short documentary of the experience next year," Janiecia says.

"Two accomplishments that I am most proud of are singing with the library teens for the mayor and City Council in 2010 as part of Future Organic Farmers of America and growing squash during last year's drought," she says. The drought-defying success "showed that things can work out."

For more on her work, see this article in the local Lake Highlands Advocate magazine.
 


This profile is one of the Top 24 Under 24 Youth Changemakers, a series hosted by SparkAction and the Campaign for a Presidential Youth Council to recognize young changemakers influencing policy and practice at the local, state and national levels.

The members of the youth-led Campaign chose the 24 youth who are featured in this series, from entries submitted by peers and mentors.

We’re always looking for more profiles of young people making a difference, so submit one of your own!