Knowledge and Action at Work at the Walnut Education Campus

February 14, 2023
Chuhan Ding (left), the Gold Award winner, and Aurora Sun (right), the Bronze Award winner, happily hold the small plants they made. Photo/ Michelle Young

Written by: Ben Tu, Liqi Shao, Michelle Young
Translated by: H.B. Qin
Edited by: Patrick McShane

“My name is Chuhan Ding, and I got the Gold Award today.
“How many hours did you work to get the Gold Award?
“I worked 72 or 73 hours.
“What about you?”
“My name is Aurora Sun. I got a Bronze Award. I worked 31 hours.”
“What do you volunteer here for?
“We’re here to water and feed the plants.

Tzu Chi volunteers at the Tzu Chi Walnut Campus
Life Science Garden in Los Angeles

Tzu Chi Walnut Education Campus in Los Angeles, USA, has prepared the Presidential Volunteer Award certificates for the young volunteers. Photo/ Michelle Young

Since 2021, young volunteers have been serving people and doing environmental work at the Life Science Garden at the Tzu Chi Walnut Campus in Los Angeles, California. Every Saturday, all year round, they can always be seen working in the campus gardens. In order to reward and encourage the perseverance and dedication the young volunteers have shown over the past year, the Walnut Campus hosted The President’s Volunteer Service Award Ceremony for the young volunteers on the first Saturday of December. A total of 16 volunteers were presented with awards. One child was awarded a gold award, two were awarded silver awards, and 13 received bronze awards.

Knowledge and Action

The Walnut Life Science Garden uses the beauty and diversity of nature as a form of ecological classroom, allowing children to understand plant life in its natural habitat out in the fresh air and sunshine. Here students can learn about different plant species and fruit trees in their native ecosystems. They also can see how greenhouse nurseries grow plants and learn to categorize various plant characteristics. The natural setting also allows students to learn different ecological knowledge in the field, rather than merely studying ecology in books or in the classroom. The children see firsthand the importance of ecological conservation in the environment while enjoying a peaceful oasis in the hustle and bustle of the city.

The Tzu Chi young volunteer program has been going on for a year. During this period, everyone involved witnessed the changes in seasons from winter to spring to summer to fall. They felt the ever-changing dynamic magic of flowers, plants, birds, and insects in the Life Science Garden, and appreciated the greatness and magnificence of nature in nurturing life. Together, they dedicated themselves to growing various vegetables and plants, preparing the corn fields, planting, seeding, nurturing, and harvesting. The youngest volunteers have followed their older siblings since they were toddlers, and now they have grown up to be the youngest volunteers to receive the Presidential Volunteer Award. The love and dedication they show every Saturday has not only brought them the joy of success, but also friendship.

Jennifer Thom's family poses for a photo in the park. Photo/Michelle Young

Jennifer Thom is the mother of two children. When she was a child, she volunteered to help raise money and purchase goods for families in need. Now, her two children come to the Walnut Campus every week to do charity work. Because they grew up playing in nature, they were very involved and understood more about being green and helping others from the very first time they first went to the Life Science Garden. “That was a happy time for us during the week,” Jennifer said.

They probably don't quite understand what it means to be here yet, but for them, they love coming here and enjoy working with their friends and then occasionally stealing the fresh fruit and vegetables from the garden. I think they'll grow up realizing how much of an impact this has had on them.

Nan Sun sent her children to the garden because she wanted them to participate in more outdoor activities to practice discipline, gain insight, and learn to help others. He said, “At Walnut Campus, they learned a lot and did a lot of things that they had never done before, and every Saturday they will be thinking about coming back.”

The President’s Volunteer Award is Tzu Chi’s way of saying thank you to the young volunteers for their hard work and dedication to the community over the past year. At the same time, Tzu Chi would like to spread the seeds of good character, including knowledge and action, love and patience, to more people, as well as continuing this goodness, so that everyone can contribute their share to better the community.

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