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  • Genevieve Fontana

Executive Associate to the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences helps the Canisius Community Grow

By: Genevieve Fontana, Contributor

Veronica Serwacki is an incredibly dedicated member of the Canisius community. Her Canisius career started as a student: she earned an associate’s degree in the humanities, a bachelor of arts degree in English and a master of science degree in Anthrozoology. She has not only stepped into the role of executive associate to the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, but she has been involved in organizing student extracurriculars as the chapter coordinator for the Jesuit Honor Society, Alpha Sigma Nu. Serwacki, with her South African roots, is very aware of the need to save and maintain the balance of healthy ecosystems. With this love for the outdoors, it only makes sense that Veronica was part of the small group of Canisius volunteers connected to the creation of the East-West Community Garden from its inception in 2017-18. Outside of Canisius, Veronica is a New York State Wildlife Rehabilitation Conference member and editor of their quarterly newsletter, where she writes pieces on the importance of protecting insects. 

In the East-West Community Garden, primarily organic vegetables and herbs are grown with absolutely no use of pesticides! There are annual group gatherings to work in the garden, encourage the neighbors to get involved and work on all summer maintenance, watering and keeping the flower beds and vegetable beds well maintained. The fruits and vegetables are sometimes donated, and community members are encouraged to take on a bed to maintain for the summer. She envisions the East-West Community Garden as an educational tool for folks to have programs that promote a healthier environment. She would also like to possibly initiate programs through the summer for city children to experience gardening. Veronica hopes that the institution can get actively involved in the community gardens that Canisius owns and continue to refrain from using pesticides and herbicides and expand the use of native flowering plants for the garden beds around campus. She has visions of the green space between Lyons Hall and the parking lot as a kind of laboratory for promoting insects by letting the grass grow into a meadow “and perhaps put up a couple of bat boxes,” she says. 

Veronica understands the importance of education and has many aspirations for this garden space. She says, “It is all about education. … Children need to learn about the importance of our wildlife and what wildlife needs to survive into the future. We need to promote more of that for the city children who don’t have a chance to get out into the country to experience nature.”


Serwacki’s love for gardening came from her grandmother, who owned an African coffee farm. Veronica said, “I’ve always loved to be outdoors. She has been interested in promoting insects and native plants in her garden that are free of pesticides. Just recently, she has purchased 47 acres of wetland adjacent to state-managed land to save and extend natural habitat for various species. It is also part of the Wildway, the Western New York Land Conservancy’s plan to protect and connect the largest of our region’s remaining forests. This plan aims to promote the free movement of plants and animals across the land, enabling them to adjust to changing climates, expand their territories and increase their chances of survival.

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