Life-Changing Experiences for Youth
At age 15, Kendra Norrell interned in the Children’s Garden. She recalls “dealing with dirt, plants, and bugs,” than advancing to cataloging plants. As the first high school participant in the Partnership for the Future collaboration (2005), Kendra didn’t expect her internship to repeat two more summers — and she certainly didn’t expect it to redirect her future.
Years later, while attending Haverford College, Norrell remembered how working outdoors had made her “feel part of something bigger than myself. I wanted to be a computer engineer but being outside had changed that.” She switched majors and graduated in 2011, with a degree in environmental biology.
Today, Norrell is the program manager for Groundwork RVA, where she plans youth activities − from building sustainable planters to camping in state parks. “We work with Richmond Public Schools, where not everyone has had the experience to be outdoors,” she says. “They end up loving it and sharing it with others.” Norrell also assists with workforce development and community partnerships.
In 2017, Norrell was among the first graduates of the Ginter Urban Gardener program, and recently she was named to the Richmond 300 Advisory Council, the leadership group directing the update of the City of Richmond’s master plan.
“Lewis Ginter gave me a frame of reference that working with the environment was a real option for a career,” she says. It also helped prepare Norrell in opening doors for the next generation to not only experience but treasure the great outdoors.