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STUDENT SPOTLIGHT – SARAH CLOUSE


Two years ago, Sarah Clouse walked into the office with no experience in gardening and unaware at how her new job would come to affect her. Today she plays a vital role in the success of the University of Houston’s campus community garden and supervises the student workers for the Office of Sustainability.

Clouse had learned about the existence of the garden from a campus marketing event and signed up for the program’s email list. Through those emails, she heard about the opening of a student position and decided to apply. She was hired on in the summer of 2010 to begin assisting in the campus community garden and organizing events and soon became a huge fan of gardening.

“I love it. I was really surprised I have a green thumb,” she said. “And I get really excited when plants start producing.”

Clouse takes a lot of pride in her work and her great attitude earned her a promotion to student supervisor and campus community garden coordinator last spring. She is responsible for the daily care, planning and watering of the garden, overseeing the student workers in the Office of Sustainability, recruiting and coordinating volunteers, meeting weekly with representatives from Urban Harvest and coordinating with the UH Horticulture Society, and also leading weekly team meetings. Clouse also began a weekly posting on the Campus Community Garden’s Facebook fanpage called the “Edible of the Week.” Every week, she chooses one vegetable or herb in the garden and gives a summary of its health benefits and provides a recipe using the produce. She said she likes the change of pace her position provides.

“I enjoy it a lot. It’s a good balance to go from the office to outside and I get to communicate with other people and volunteers so I get to work with new people all the time,” she said.

Clouse also organizes a gardening event every other Sunday to coordinate and teach volunteers how to work and assist in the campus community garden. She said she really wants the UH community to be aware that the garden is here on campus and believes it is something everyone should try to experience.

“You really get an enjoyable feeling from gardening because you’re doing hard work and something comes from it. When a plant grows, you see how your hard work has paid off,” she said.

Clouse is supervised by Program Coordinator for Sustainability, Leah Wolfthal, who she also assists along with the other student workers in sustainability-related research and grants as well as other events and projects.

“I am thankful for Sarah’s support of the Office; her work contributes order, stability, continuity, and ease, and it is a joy to be among the recipients of her giving from the heart,” said Leah Wolfthal, Program Coordinator for Sustainability.

Clouse said she loves being able to donate the produce in the garden to the Manna House, a local food bank near Texas Southern University. She visits Manna House once to twice a week to deliver produce. She said seeing the happy faces of the people at Manna House when they donate the food is the best part of her job.

She said the experience she is gaining in the garden may also be able to contribute to her profession. As a psychology major, Clouse is interested in the therapeutic effects gardening can provide for people suffering from mental disorders. She said it can be used as a method to calm people down instead of resorting to drug therapy.

Clouse will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Spring 2013 and hopes to possibly move after graduation. Originally from Austin, Texas, Clouse is very used to moving and did so a lot as a child since her father was in the Air Force. His service took her family all the way to England, followed by California, Georgia, Arizona, Alaska, and then finally to Houston where she has stayed ever since.

She plans to wait a couple of years before enrolling in graduate school and hopes to one day become a forensic psychologist and work for a law firm in jury selection or to consult clients as they go through the court process.

For more information on volunteering in the Campus Community Garden, visit the Facebook fanpage. For more information on the Office of Sustainability, visit www.uh.edu/green.