succulent macro

When you think about football players, flowers aren’t usually the first thing that comes to mind. But with Connor Barwin, you get the connection.

Connor Barwin action shot eagles

Sure, he’s 6’4 and spends Sundays colliding with really big men, but he also believes in giving back to his community. It’s a trait that’s gained him more and more media coverage since he first arrived in Philadelphia almost two years ago.

mifflin camera crews

But make no mistake—his volunteering as a guest judge at Mifflin School for the Junior Flower Show was not just cheap publicity.

Connor Barwin civic

Barwin is the son of very civic-minded parents. Growing up in Detroit, his dad constantly spoke about the virtues of city beautification and the need to volunteer. Barwin’s mom also encouraged him to get involved, but also insisted he help in the family garden growing fruits and vegetables.

art display collage

So it made sense that he should be judging roughly 25 works of art by 5th and 6th graders at Mifflin.

assorted art

Made from beans, seeds, rice, and other natural materials, the entries were made with the Flower Show’s mission in mind to “encourage active participation in growing, gardening, and sustainable practices.”

kid plant

And Barwin was a great advocate for the cause, sitting at various kid-sized tables helping one awestruck kid after another plant succulents in miniature planters.

He spoke knowledgeably to one, saying “You don’t need to water it much. The leaves are full of water. That’s why it’s called a succulent.”

When a member of the press asked him how he knew about succulents, he said he has several of his own at home (he likes them because they are very low maintenance).

Swoop Connor judge collage

He brought the same thoughtfulness to his judging responsibilities, walking the room slowly before awarding the “Best in Show” prize.

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Winner Treasur Lee’s interpretation of  the “Lion King” movie poster used peas, beans and rice in a striking, colorful arrangement.

Treasur wins ribbon plus jersey

If she was thrilled when he presented her with a 1st Place ribbon, she just about burst at the seams when he handed her his autographed Eagles jersey, and gave her a big hug to boot.

bird upstages kid

And then Swoop, well, swooped in to steal some limelight as all good mascots do (hamming extra-hard for kids & cameras).

selfies blackboard collage

After Connor signed autographs, took selfies with the kids, and presented Eagles hats for other prize winners, he wrote “plant trees +” on a white board and signed his name.

For a man whose “Make the World Better Project” just helped raise money for an urban farm in the Point Breeze section so residents could have fresh produce, it was more than just a slogan.