Skip to content

Learning by Leading™ at the Humber Arboretum

Developed by the University of California at Davis Arboretum and Public Garden, the Learning by Leading™ Program is based on the idea that students learn best by taking leadership in helping to solve real-world problems.  The Humber Arboretum was selected as the only public garden in Canada to be part of a pilot project to create a network of Learning by Leading™ programs at public gardens across North America.

Learning by Leading™ at the Humber Arboretum provides a growing number of experiential and service learning opportunities for Humber College and University of Guelph-Humber students. As part of the program, Humber Arboretum staff act as mentors to students who take the lead on real-world projects aimed at creating a healthier environment and a more sustainable world. The opportunities use a laddered approach to gradually build up students' knowledge and skills. The program is founded in Humber College’s Institutional Learning Outcomes framework. 

Our pilot program was such a success that we have expanded the program to include three branches: Arboretum Ambassadors (community education and outreach); Arboretum Creatives (communications), and the upcoming Sustainable Horticulture and Environmental Stewardship.

Participants in any branch have the opportunity to:

  • Gain real-world experience while having a real-world impact on issues related to the environment, biodiversity, and sustainability
  • Develop leadership, communication, and other professional and critical thinking skills
  • Embrace a place-based education by connecting with nature and learning about local ecosystems
  • Expand their network of peers
  • Build experience for their resume
  • Have their experience recognized on their Co-Curricular Record, a second transcript that demonstrates their service learning

Students look over the instructions for a bird box

Two students proudly hold up a bird box they have built

Get Involved

A student holds up a deer leg from a touch table and smiles for the camera

The Humber Arboretum Ambassadors (community outreach)

Staff Mentor: Jimmy Vincent, Coordinator of Education, Camps, and Community Outreach & Reid Williamson, Sr. Nature Interpreter

Launched in the 2018 Winter semester as the first pilot project under Learning by Leading™ at the Humber Arboretum, the Arb Ambassadors program has already connected students from a wide variety of academic fields with the vast urban greenspace on their campus. Participants learn all about the Humber Arboretum and share their knowledge and enthusiasm with the on-campus and local community through in-person events. In 2019, the Arb Ambassadors received a World Wildlife Fund Canada Go Wild School Grant to host the student-run event “Building Biodiversity”.


The Arb Creatives (communications)

Staff Mentor: Marilyn Campbell, Communications Assistant

New for the 2019/2020 school year, the Arb Creatives branch of Learning by Leading™ will give students from any program the chance to improve their print and digital communication skills and build their resume and portfolio by creating public-facing content to support the Arboretum’s activities and goals. Through weekly team meetings they will learn about the Arboretum and local ecosystems while developing and practicing skills in graphic design, photography, videography, writing, and more.


A student plants a tree

Sustainable Horticulture and Environmental Stewardship (upcoming)

Staff Mentors: Robert Gray, Coordinator of Landscape Operations  & Lynn Short, Environmental Stewardship Coordinator

Watch this page for more information on an upcoming pilot to apply the Learning by Leading™ model to sustainable horticulture and nature stewardship projects at the Humber Arboretum.  

Students who are already working for the Arboretum in the gardens or greenhouse should let the staff mentors know if they are interested in getting involved.

Signature Projects and Internships

For students who already have a grounding in the work of the Arboretum, Learning by Leading™ can provide opportunities for specialized signature projects. There are also opportunities to complete internship hours for their academic programs, depending on individual academic internship requirements.

Want to get involved? Contact us and watch the Jobs page of the Humber Arboretum for opportunities.