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Horticulture Program at Meramec Leads to Big Opportunity for Current Student

May 19, 2010

Tony Zebrowski  
Tony Zebrowski in the greenhouse at Meramec

Tony Zebrowski has big dreams—dreams that could easily become reality, thanks to a supportive and knowledgeable faculty at Meramec. Zebrowski is a student in the Horticulture program and will receive his Associate in Applied Science degree next year. Before coming to STLCC, he served as an Americorps VISTA in New Orleans, where his passion for educating the public on the benefits of wetlands was born.

Having spent a lot of time in the world of nonprofits before coming to STLCC, Zebrowski had noticed a gap between monetary resources and education. “The money is there (for environmental projects), but the education and the perception of the viability of green jobs is still to come,” he said.

Zebrowski now sees his future in terms of filling this gap, and he is well on his way. In April, Zebrowski’s proposal for a wetlands restoration curriculum for grades K-12 was selected to be presented at the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) in Miami, FL. Each year, CGI U hosts a meeting for students, national youth organizations, and university officials to discuss solutions to pressing global issues. CGI U represents a growing community of young leaders who take concrete steps toward solving complex environmental and human rights problems. Prior to attending the meeting, each student and university must develop and submit a Commitment to Action: a specific plan of action that addresses a pressing challenge on his or her campus or in the wider global community. An invitation to this meeting is a high honor, especially for someone just beginning to build a new career and taking on such an enormous task.

But Zebrowski is confident, and STLCC is one reason why. As part of a service learning project at Meramec, Zebrowski will engage five classrooms in this service learning project next fall.

"Working with [my teachers] has been a big inspiration," Zebrowski said. "The horticulture faculty at Meramec has shown great interest and support in my proposal. These are great teachers who practice what they preach and respect student ideas."

Zebrowski learned through his experience in New Orleans that the destruction of wetlands is a great threat to American sustainability. He’s found the support and the education he needs to put his education plan into action at STLCC. "I have committed myself to finding creative, effective ways to take part in preserving them—to create lasting change."