Spotlight – Meghan Garhan: Cultivating Nature’s Harmony in New Orleans

By R. Stephanie Bruno with staff contributions

Meghan Garhan, Urban Conservancy board member since 2022 and current Vice President, believes that all things are interconnected. She effortlessly weaves the threads of environmental stewardship and community engagement into the fabric of her daily life. 

Meghan was inspired by her own experience as one of the first participants in the Front Yard Initiative (FYI) in 2017. Since then, Meghan has championed the removal of excessive concrete, transforming barren spaces into thriving ecosystems through the application of nature-based solutions. “FYI’s multifaceted and engaging approach stuck with me,” says Meghan, who continues to advocate for it with friends and neighbors who also experience flooding and/or have large amounts of cement on their property.

Where paving once was, Meghan now cultivates rain gardens full of native and naturalized species like Louisiana Irises, Little Gem magnolias, a Japanese magnolia, kumquats, jasmine and her favorite, Beautyberry. She selected these plants for the dual purposes of beautifying her surroundings and mitigating stormwater runoff, easing the burden on the city’s infrastructure.

“Over time,” says Meghan, “I’ve become deeply fascinated by and curious about the natural world outside my house, and it’s catapulted me into what I’m doing now.” Meghan followed her professional calling to foster a deeper connection between individuals and their natural surroundings and enrolled in Naropa University’s master’s program in ecopsychology. Today, as a dedicated educator at T.R.E.E (Teaching Responsible Earth Education), she nurtures young minds in outdoor classrooms, inspiring them to appreciate the natural world, and motivating them to protect it.

Meghan’s commitment to community-centered environmental advocacy extends beyond the classroom. As part of her degree requirements at Naropa, Meghan engaged in 40 hours of service learning projects with the Urban Conservancy. She worked with staff to develop the Native Plant Sign and Community Garden committees. 

A certified Louisiana Master Naturalist, Meghan shares her knowledge generously, guiding others in embracing the biodiversity of their environment. When asked what advice she would give to empower individuals to start planning for and planting their own rain gardens, she shares this pro tip: “The Spring Garden Show at City Park Botanical Garden and the Pelican Greenhouse are good places to find native plants,” says Meghan. “And definitely check out the workshops and other Front Yard Initiatives resources on the Urban Conservancy website!”

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