Chloe Penna: Sprouting Her Roots in Environmentalism at University

Aug. 5, 2022
Chloe Penna outside among a field of sunflowers

What year are you/ what is you major?

I'll be entering my fourth and final year majoring in English and Professional & Technical Writing and minoring in Environmental Studies and French. 

What organizations or groups are you involved in on campus?

I manage the University of Arizona Community Garden, which means that I'm an Executive Board member of Students for Sustainability as well as a student employee with the Office of Sustainability. This fall I'll also begin an internship with the Earth Grant program, working with the Southern Arizona Community Food Bank Garden. I'm also currently an editor with Pine Reads Review, the university's children's literature review publication.

What do you like most about working for the UA Community Garden?

There are a lot of things to love about the Garden -- the satisfaction of watching seeds turn into sustenance, the tranquility of early morning weed-pulling, the sense of responsibility and pride of ensuring that plants are taken care of and infrastructure is maintained. And at its core, a community garden couldn't exist without community. Getting to be a part of other people's gardening experiences is such a joy, whether it's introducing first-time gardeners to the gardening world or simply providing a means for students to connect with nature. We build a strong community at the Garden through our twice-weekly volunteer workdays and events like our open-mic nights called Stories in the Garden.

What is your favorite story from your time in Students for Sustainability?

One of my favorite Students for Sustainability memories was during Earth Week 2021 when I had the chance to lead a sustainable cooking demonstration -- basically living out my side dream of being a chef/food blogger. I got to combine my passions for food and sustainability and host a pretend cooking show. This is another aspect of gardening that I love -- it gives you the opportunity to engage in and educate about sustainable food cultivation, and to turn your own produce into works of culinary art. 

What is something you want to accomplish before you graduate?

This upcoming year in the Garden we're hoping to improve access to both gardening and fresh produce. We'll be working more closely with Campus Pantry, donating herbs and produce grown by our volunteers. We also want to create more gardening education materials so that students and community members feel empowered to try gardening themselves. The Garden is all about hands-on green learning! Our workdays will resume this fall, and all are welcome to come by and pull weeds, trim trees, dig holes, and plant seeds -- you'll be sure to meet some great people while doing so. 

(If you are looking to get involved our email is and our Instagram is @uarizona_garden).