Equity Through Stories Program

Duke Gardens aspires to be a place where people can deepen their connection with the land and each other, especially those with experiences and identities that have been marginalized in our dominant cultures of outdoor learning and horticulture. In the Equity Through Stories Program, we work with Duke students and community members to expand our knowledge of local history and people’s relationships with plants in order to include more perspectives in our gardens, facilitated programs and interpretive materials. Each semester, students conduct archival or primary research through interviews and then create sharable materials that we incorporate into our internal reference materials and public spaces, interpretation and programs. Students also open and build ongoing relationships between Duke Gardens and our wider community.


Quinn Smith, Jr. (Fall 2020-Summer 2021)

photo of Quinn Smith, Jr. in Duke Gardens

Quinn is a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, majoring in public policy and history with a documentary studies certificate. As a documentarian, Quinn strives to challenge our misconceptions of Indigenous people by documenting a long-silenced, shared humanity.

What drew Quinn to the Equity through Stories Program was the ability to uplift Indigenous truths and to forge reciprocal relationships with Indigenous people throughout the Carolinas. Quinn does this by interviewing Indigenous people about their land relationships and by weaving their voices into audio documentaries to be exhibited at the Blomquist Garden of Native Plants. He also initiates seed-sharing, harvest-sharing, and other mutually beneficial ventures between Indigenous peoples and Blomquist Gardens. Quinn hopes that his work will help to re-educate Duke Garden’s 500,000+ annual visitors about Indigenous people and provide a healing space for Indigenous people.


Ella Dunham (Fall 2020-Summer 2021)

photo of Ella Dunham in Duke Gardens

Ella Dunham studies Health Outcomes: Power, Community, and Social Systems with a Chemistry minor as a B.N. Duke Scholar at Trinity College. She is also a digital marketing intern at Black Venture Foundation and Publicity Chair for Duke Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students (MAPS). They are interested in this work to learn and teach others about agriculture and horticulture practices used and popularized by Black and Indigenous folks. Through interviews and literature review, research is gathered and collected to create virtual fieldtrips so children can create their own connection with the plant world around them.


Autumn Burton (Fall 2020-Spring 2021)

Autumn graduated in 2021 with a major in Environmental Science and a minor in Global Health. She is interested in working towards methodologies to facilitate environmental justice outcomes for marginalized populations, as well as research in sustainable energy, clean technology, and conservation. Autumn's projects aim to bring light to the major impacts that people of color have had on agriculture and horticulture throughout contemporary U.S. history and to highlight connections between crop plants grown at Duke Gardens and a diverse range of cultures who have relationships with those plants.


Anna Steltenkamp (Summer 2020)

Anna graduated in 2021 with a major in cultural anthropology. Her project with Equity Through Stories began to develop reciprocal relationships with local Indigenous communities, including interviewing those interested about their relationship with plants and what kinds of collaborations with Duke Gardens they would find useful.



To learn more, please direct questions to Kati Henderson (kati.henderson@duke.edu or 919-886-3816; she/her).

This position will be posted to DukeList any time we’re hiring new students.