Civic engagement has many different meanings and implications. Throughout FLA this semester we have had the opportunity to reflect and make a positive impact on the Gainesville community. Through each unique community experience, FLA members have had the opportunity to develop a foundation and passion for striving to be leaders in the community and excel in leading change.
Some of the events we executed this semester include working with Keeping Alachua County Beautiful, Dance Marathon, and Bread of the Mighty Food Bank. We held a food drive to benefit Bread of the Mighty Food Bank, which was a great initiative to bring members of the Florida Leadership Academy together in a friendly competition. The morning session competed against the afternoon session to try and donate more cans of non-perishable food items. Ultimately, the morning session was the winner of the friendly competition, but both groups managed to collect a combined 120 pounds. This competition not only helped people in need, it exemplified how civic engagement can be fun and further highlighted the tight-knit culture of Florida Leadership Academy.
The Civic Engagement Committee has also been very active with Keeping Alachua County Beautiful. We participated in two large events with this amazing organization and our members not only enjoyed working together, but also learned about the importance of giving back to our community. Both projects we participated in were roadside cleanups that were close to the UF campus. Students learned that the city of which we are currently residents of consists of much more than just our beautiful campus. Gainesville is our current home and our main goal is to keep it beautiful. Thus, our work with Keeping Alachua County Beautiful helped keep our roads and surrounding nature areas clean and trash-free.
Additionally, this committee has taught each of us the importance of planning ahead and being organized. Promoting each event, sending reminders, and coordinating the carpooling for each event takes critical thinking and collaboration. In addition, we learned the importance of having contingency plans as one of our outdoor landscaping projects with Keeping Alachua County Beautiful got canceled due to inclement weather conditions. This was another instance where we had to communicate with everyone through Microsoft Teams, and GroupMe.
Through each of our meetings we have all grown closer to each other and have become friends outside of FLA’s professional environment. We are all excited to continue to learn and create change within the Gainesville community through our endeavors next semester. This semester was extremely successful and we can assure you that we will continue to work hard so that next semester is too.
On behalf of the Civic Engagement Committee, we want to wish everyone a great new year! It was great meeting everyone and working together to create a positive impact. We look forward to expanding our outreach and have some creative ideas for the spring semester.
FLA Civic Engagement Committee