Everyday hero teaches youth through gardening

Bronson Gentry Jr. went from coach to master gardener

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DETROIT - For some thirty years Bronson Gentry Jr. was a football coach who touched the lives of hundreds of youth within the public school system.

Coaches can be pivotal folks in the lives of youth through their teaching of not just the mechanics of the sport, but also 'life lessons'. Such things as discipline, hard word, dedication, values and the importance of team work. Sometimes a coach can mold the destiny of the youth that they touch. Also a male coach, might be the only male role model for the youth that he teaches.

Upon his retirement Coach Gentry, took up gardening. He loved the relaxation and working in the ground to have the ground produce through his labor. Periodically neighborhood youth would stop by and chit chat with him to see what he was doing. So he began getting some of them to 'tinker' around with him as he was gardening. Then it dawned upon him that gardening demanded some of the same skills as playing sports. There is discipline, dedication, focus, learning the processes for growth and attention to the details. Not to mention hard work.

So Coach went on to become a 'master gardener'. He reconnected with his contacts at DPS and began teaching youth the principles and rewards of working with the soil. One of the schools that he is working with is Nichols School on Detroit's east side. The church that he and his wife are a member of is Great Christ Baptist Church on Mack and Iroquois. Through their relationship with DPS they became part of a Pastor' Corp, where one church adopts one school. Coach Gentry conferred with Principal Linda Whitaker about what he wanted to do. She said great.

Principal Whitaker connected him with 4th grade teacher Barbara Lothery and her students, and the rest is history. Indian Village Neighborhood Association donated supplies through their Men's Gardening Club. Now you can see kale, cabbage, lettuce, zucchini, squash, basil, lettuce, tomatoes and collard green growing. They have harvested collard greens and created a carbonated 'green soda'.

Coach Gentry has exposed inner city youth to an echo system, pollination, birds and the importance of growing cycles. He said there are careers here that  he is exposing them to that they never would have imagined.

Bronson Gentry, from football coach to master gardener, to gardening coach, he is truly an Everyday Hero: Making A Difference.

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