Saturday, December 21, 2013

Growing Green Dreams at Local Schools!

GUEST BLOG by Anna Benfield

Gardening is hard work. So is being a public school teacher.

It’s no surprise then that school gardens are such an uphill battle for DC teachers and administrators. This letter from one of the Washington Youth Garden’s partner schools helps show why partnerships are so valuable. If you agree, please consider contributing to this work.

Below, Mel Jones, the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Coordinator at John Burroughs Education Campus shares more about why she values the Washington Youth Garden and the programming the partnership enables.

Since beginning as a science teacher here over ten years ago, I have made repeated attempts to start a garden. I knew my students would have a better understanding of science if there was more hands-on learning. However, despite my efforts, I didn’t have the expertise or the time to develop a real, working garden.
In 2011, our partnership with the Washington Youth Garden made the dream of a school garden come alive as third graders filled new raised beds with soil and transplanted lettuce, which they later harvested for salad pitas. Since then, the garden has become a part of every student’s experience—from compost investigation projects to school-wide sweet potato tastings.
The garden continues to expose students to new fruits and vegetables and provide an outdoor science laboratory. With grant funding, we’ve hired a School Garden Coordinator who regularly teaches our Early Childhood classes and collaborates with teachers to integrate the garden into science and literacy lessons. Plans are in progress to install a kitchen classroom to give our students year-round opportunities to cook healthy foods and learn about science and nutrition. The Washington Youth Garden has made a truly wonderful difference for our students and our school!
If your believe that under-served kids deserve gardens and garden-based instruction at school, please support the Washington Youth Garden’s online campaign to raise $7,000 by the end of the year.
Learn more and GIVE TODAY!

About the Author
Anna is the Education Programs Manager at the Washington Youth Garden, which is located on the grounds of the US National Arboretum in Washington, DC.

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