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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.

It all starts with one seed! You never know where Learning by Leading™ will take you. 

(Animation created by 2019/2020 Arb Creative Co-Coordinator Maria Siabato)

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 incorporates skills and mindsets from the Humber Learning Outcomes framework. 


Learning by Leading™ is divided into different branches, or teams. Choose the one that aligns most closely with your interests. 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

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 Mentors: Mike Naumoff, Laura McClintock, and Max Haber, Nature Interpreters

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 and virtual 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 Arboretum Ambassadors does not run in the summer. Check back for updates about the Fall 2021 program. 

The Arb Creatives (communications)

Staff Mentor: Marilyn Campbell, Communications Assistant

Started in the 2019/2020 school year, the Arb Creatives branch of Learning by Leading™ gives 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 the Creatives learn about the Arboretum and local ecosystems while developing and practicing skills in areas such as graphic design, photography, videography, and writing.

The Arb Creatives doesn't run in the summer. Check back for updates on the Fall 2021 program.

Students show off a bat box they have built together

Community Connectors (citizenship)

This new branch of Learning by Leading is offered as a one-semester, 40-hour service learning experience for students participating in the “Citizenship at Humber” course as part of Humber College’s Global Citizenship certificate. In this accelerated Learning by Leading program, you will learn about the Humber Arboretum and its goals, then work as a team as you develop and implement ideas to connect the Humber Arboretum with the local and/or global community.  

In Summer 2021 the Community Connectors branch will continue to run remotely. Space in this branch is limited and students must apply. 

Applications are now open for students registered in GBLC 002 for the Summer Semester. 


Two women in safety vests dig in a field of wild plants

Sustainable Horticulture and Environmental Stewardship 

Staff Mentor: Lynn Short, Environmental Stewardship Coordinator

Two students from the 2019 Student Gardeners summer team were selected to spend the fall and winter helping to develop the research project which will form the basis of this new branch of the program. Many students hired as future Student Gardeners will have the opportunity to participate in the program.

The Stewardship branch is temporarily on hold due to COVID-19 restrictions. Check back for updates. 

Signature Projects and Placements

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.