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Lindsey Williams

A passion for gardening leads to desire to end hunger

Have you ever dreamed of helping people in need, making the world a better place, or inventing something that could make a difference in the world? Lindsey Williams did and she's well on her way to making these dreams a reality! Read her interview and think about ways to make your dreams of helping others come true!

How old are you?

I am 19 years old.

Where do you live?

I am from St. Joseph, Missouri.

What grade are you in?

I am a sophomore at Central Methodist University.

Tell us what got you started with gardening and how it grew into you producing over 28,500 pounds of vegetables.

In sixth grade, we were reading about world hunger in class and how so many students go to school hungry. Our teacher told us that there was hunger right here in our own community and that the local food banks did not have enough food for everyone. I always helped in our family garden. My father would put special fertilizers on plants, they had to be planted on just the right moon sign, and the rows had to run a special direction. I saw this as an opportunity to combine my love of gardening with my desire to give something back to my community.

I started experimenting with fertilizer and then researched a special growing technique that doubled the amount of crops that grew. Then I made a special system that reduced irrigation water by over 320 billion gallons a year—that is the same amount of water as three major lakes! The system was made of plastic tubing that also replaced wooden garden stakes, saving over 58,000 trees annually. Every year I increased my garden plots, increasing my donations of fresh foods to needy families.

You were recently recognized by Teen People as one of the top 20 teens who will change the world. How do you think you’re going to change the world?

In high school and during my first year of college, I won a lot of awards for my volunteer work. I look at a problem and then decide what I can do to help eliminate it in my own community, similar to the hunger problem. I always look for practical, achievable solutions that have a positive impact. True, I was rewarded for my volunteer efforts, but I worked harder at showing other people how important it is to become involved!

In my own neighborhood there have been four new community garden projects started by churches and local groups. Numerous gardeners and farmers have added extra plants to donate to the needy families in our area. Through national and international recognition, the efforts to copy my projects have really caught on. I love the challenge of doing something better or creating a new idea. A career in science research should open new doors and allow me to do future research on a much larger scale.

Of all of things you’ve done, what has been the most rewarding for you?

Two things stand out the most. First is my Gardening For Families project that has now donated over 61,000 pounds of fresh produce to needy families. I am most proud of this project because I see it as 61,000 times a family or child did not have to go to bed or school hungry. I am also proud of the interest and recognition it has created, generating thousands of pounds more of food for needy families. My second most rewarding project has been to attend college at Central Methodist University in Fayette, Missouri. I have met so many great friends and the professors and staff are the absolute greatest! The school is small, providing close relationships among the students and staff and a great learning environment.

What kinds of classes are you taking in college to help you learn more about chemistry? Which classes are your favorites?

Right now I am in my second semester of organic chemistry. Of course I love my chemistry class and all its challenges, but I am also taking a few general education classes this semester. I am enjoying my philosophy class and my criminal justice class. Classes like philosophy allow me to study subjects I may otherwise overlook. I also love my environmental classes and my other science classes because they give me a chance to have hands on learning with labs, and the chance to show my strengths.

What kinds of activities are you involved in at school?

Photo of Lindsey WilliamsI am a thrower on my college's varsity track team where I compete in both indoor and outdoor track seasons. I am also President of our Gamma Sigma Epsilon chapter, which is a chemistry honors society. I am Vice-President of our Alpha Phi Omega chapter here on campus. This is a national service fraternity, dedicated to volunteering.

What do you do to stay healthy?

Being on the track team helps me stay healthy. I have two practices a day which help me alternate weight workouts and cardio workouts with plenty of running and technique work. I also try to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables because they help me perform my best in the sport I love to do.

What do you want to do when you graduate college?

Right now my plan is to attend graduate school. I want to pursue a masters or even a PhD in environmental chemistry. I really hope to someday work at a research facility. I want to work with agriculture or even conservation issues dealing with things from water conservation to testing waste run-off in streams. I love chemistry and I love the outdoors, so naturally the perfect career for me would bring those two things together.

What advice would you give girls to encourage them to get more involved in science?

Science is a subject that has opened its doors now more then ever to women. There are so many opportunities out there for anyone willing to work for them. Science is a part of our everyday lives. When girls realize how much science affects them, they might find the joy in solving problems and carrying out experiments to test their own ideas and find answers to the questions they ask all the time.

Content last reviewed March 01, 2007
Page last updated March 01, 2007

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health.