Plants of resistance and resilience are Jakara Zellner’s favorites in the Cornell Botanic Gardens: towering fuzzy red castor bean plants in the Robison Herb Garden, but also cotton.
“It’s the first plant we think of related to enslavement, but enslaved people weren’t using that plant just for enslaver’s profit,” said Zellner ’23, explaining that parts of the cotton plant were also used as an abortifacient to induce labor.
Before graduating in May, Zellner co-led the Cornell Botanic Gardens’ Learning by Leading program, an engaged learning initiative launched in 2021 to support a new generation of environmental leaders. As co-leader of its Garden Ambassadors team, which creates educational and outreach programs, Zellner and Annika Dahlin ’23 created a series of monthly events to draw students to the gardens while connecting biological and cultural diversity.
Learning by Leading program launched with support from an Einhorn Center Engaged Opportunity Grant.