Intern Stacy Whiters changes the community by revitalizing green spaces.
Stacy Whiters is a member of Walnut Way’s Growing Youth Leadership program. A hardworking, passionate 17-year-old Milwaukee native who is starting his fourth year in the program, he says he’s always been fascinated by the Lindsay Heights neighborhood, its history, and the neighborhood’s founders’ drive to make a change.
“I’m grateful that I’m able to leave my own impact,” he says. “I’m changing the way the community looks by revitalizing green spaces.”
Growing Youth Leadership is Walnut Way’s signature summer teen internship program. The program engages Lindsay Heights teens in intensive urban agriculture education, leadership development, and job training. Teens like Whiters grow a wide range of chemical-free vegetables and fruits in production gardens on Walnut Way’s environmental campus and sell their harvest at local farmer’s markets. They also participate in weekly learning labs and community service projects.
The second generation of his family to work in service to the Walnut Way organization and broader community, Whiters was first introduced to Walnut Way by his father. “My father worked at Walnut Way,” Whiters says. “He’s my role model – and my mother is my biggest motivator.”
Marissa Cudworth, Public Ally Americorps Member, works closely with Whiters in urban agriculture. She says his thoughtful and observant personality is what makes him shine. “When I first met Stacy, he was quiet and reserved, but if you really sit back and let him be himself, his confidence and wisdom really come through,” Cudworth says.
He brings valuable experience in the gardens, canning, and preservation. Each season that he’s returned to the Growing Youth Leadership program has brought him increased expertise and leadership abilities. Jeremy Davis, Walnut Way’s Environmental Specialist, says Whiters came to Walnut Way with a passion for outdoor work, strong work ethic, and a stoic demeanor. “He quickly learned farming and showed patience and passion in the work,” Davis says.
That patience and passion, coupled with his determination to push himself and his community to new heights, has made Whiters a valued member of the Walnut Way team. His time and experience at Walnut Way has helped him discover new abilities and interests, motivating him to eventually be an entrepreneur. “Walnut Way has motivated me to start my own business,” he says. “Being here has helped me develop lifelong skills I can apply all over.”
Whiters’ leadership, drive, and hard work aren’t hard to notice. He’s always interested in learning more and diving into new projects. “I have a lot of self-motivation that keeps me striving for greatness,” he says. “Here at Walnut Way, I enjoy being able to make a change.”
“We look forward to continuing to grow with Stacy as he matures and continues on his career pathway excelling in his endeavors,” Davis says. “He’s a leader by example and an excellent model for his fellow youth interns.”
For more information on the Growing Youth Leadership Internship Program at Walnut Way, visit https://www.walnutway.org/programs/growing-youth-leadership-internship-program/.