Welcome to the blog of week 4 of SLP. Our “Love Lakeland Day” was full of interesting sites around the city. We learned a ton about the city’s different cultural and industrial staples.

To start our day we had a light breakfast from Chick-fil-A and a quick briefing by Katie before we departed. 

Our first stop was Hollis Garden where Stacy Smith, the City’s park extraordinaire, treated us to a brief history of the park, the importance of parks and green spaces in a community, and more specifically, all of the awesome plants in Hollis Garden.

He then took us to Common Ground Park where we learned a bit about how Rotary clubs from around the area came together to make it possible. I have lived in Lakeland all my life and he taught me so many facts about the park that I didn’t know.

Stacy then departed from our group and we went to Lakeland Linder Airport for a bus tour. During this tour we learned a ton about all of the expansions the airport plans on making. While we were here, we were able to see one of the first few commercial landings from New Haven, Connecticut. They told us about how they have a new grand plan and a little bit of what that looked like which was fascinating. 

After the airport, we went to the Publix Dairy Factory. We were given a tour of the facility and heard from different people about the history of the place and many different stories involving George Jenkins. I have to say, I was genuinely blown away after seeing the very impressive process of how all of the dairy items are made. I eat them everyday and am now going to appreciate it so much more. Publix also provided us a delicious lunch and even let us try some new, unreleased ice cream flavors. 


We also got a chance to see the Polk Museum of Art. At the museum we were given a tour and a little bit of a history lesson of the museum. What I thought was cool, is how the museum has many different outreach operations such as summer camps, different art classes, and opportunities to give. I honestly didn’t know it was more than just a museum but after the tour it is clear they are doing much more.

Our last stop was Born and Bread where we got to hear from Jen Smurr (Born and Bread), Jon Bucklew (The Joinery), and Ruthie Tate (Balance Culture) about their different small businesses. As a Lakeland native this was my favorite part of the day. It was so interesting how their different stories all had the underlying theme of aiming to make the community better. They shared with us their different backgrounds and how their hard work and determination got them to where they are today. I have no idea what I want to do in the next few years so hearing about how they were all able to pursue their dreams was very encouraging to me. And of course, we weren’t able to go to Born and Bread without enjoying some of their delicious baked goods. 

After our very long day, we headed back to Catapult as Katie gave us an overview of the day and key takeaways. 

To close our day, we had our social at Cob and Penn. 

Thank you so much for reading!

  • Carter Sandman (SLP Intern)