• Home
  • Keynotes & Special Events

    Make the most of your NCYGS experience

    Keynotes & Special Events

    Gardening Experts. World-Class Gardens.

    Special Events

    Pre-Symposium: Denver Urban Gardens

    Denver Urban Gardens supports one of the largest school garden networks in the United States and will lead attendees on a behind-the-scenes tour of schools that are truly making a difference. Join us to learn about the establishment of three school gardens and how they foster community, health, and education. A youth-led farmer’s market at Fairview School Community Garden, a schoolyard farm at Denver Green School Community Garden supplying the cafeteria salad bar managed by Sprout City Farms, and integrated nutrition and science classes at Bradley International School's Heather Regan Memorial Garden will be some of the dynamic aspects of youth gardening we will encounter.

    Pre-Symposium: Fort Collins, CO and Cheyenne, WY

    This pre-symposium event will feature The Gardens on Spring Creek and Cheyenne Botanic Gardens. These public gardens have served as models for children's gardening around the United States due to their dedicated interest in making gardens a safe, enjoyable, and educational environment for children and youth. Staff at each location will give personalized tours while highlighting the history and development of these children’s gardens, as well as their hands-on methods of educational programming.

    Post-Symposium: Avery Brewing and Niwot Hops Farm, Boulder, CO

    After the conclusion of NCYGS 2013, join us for a fun and educational “Farm-to-Cup” event in Boulder. Avery Brewing will be the first stop to see how it has been turning hops into beer since 1993. Next, we will head over to Niwot Hops Farm, a supplier of Avery, for a tour. Niwot Hops grows herbs, flowers, vegetables, and harvests honey in addition to producing hops, all with a strong focus on sustainability and biodiversity. Relax at the end of the evening with a delicious pizza dinner on the farm provided by Crust, a mobile pizza kitchen, where most of the ingredients will be sourced from Niwot and other local farms. Attendees must be at least 21 years of age, and must take the bus to attend. Read More!


    Keynote Presentations


    Louise Chawla with Brooke Gessay, Thursday, July 11 at 12:00pm
    Gardening for the Health of Young People and the Planet

    Current research indicates that the health benefits of gardening extend far beyond the nutrients in fresh fruits and vegetables. Gardens form oases of green spaces for active engagement in nature. This presentation reviews research on positive outcomes that people of all ages derive from access to nature in their daily lives, with a special focus on benefits for children and youth. It includes results from recent research with teens in high-school and community gardening programs, who articulate the meaning of gardening in their lives, and evidence that the type of engagement with nature that gardening provides encourages active care for the environment across the lifespan.

    About Louise Chawla

    Louise Chawla, Professor of Environmental Design at the University of Colorado, is an environmental psychologist whose work focuses on the benefits of access to nature for children, the development of active care for the natural world, and participatory methods for engaging children and youth in design and planning. As Associate Director of the Children, Youth and Environments Center for Community Engagement at the University of Colorado, she has many years of experience with projects in the Metro-Denver region that connect faculty, students and community partners to improve access to nature for children and youth and integrate young people’s voices into planning and design. She is co-editor of the journal Children, Youth and Environments, advisory board member of the Children and Nature Network, and former coordinator of the revival of the Growing Up in Cities program of UNESCO. She is co-author of a policy statement currently under review by the American Public Health Association on “Improving Health and Wellness through Access to Nature,” as she believes that children’s access to green spaces needs to be promoted in the context of the benefits of contact with nature for all ages.

    About Brooke Gessay

    Brooke Gessay is a dance artist, yoga teacher, and ordained zen monk who is currently completing an M.F.A. in Dance at the University of Colorado in Boulder. She has danced professionally around the U.S. and taught and performed in China, Vietnam, Mexico, Italy and Lithuania.  She has worked extensively with youth in arts education in San Francisco and Boulder. Currently she works with young people and adults in the Boulder community through The Wellness Initiative and on the faculty of The Integral Center. See www.freebirddanceandyoga.com.



    Marcia Eames-Sheavly, Friday, July 12 at 12:30pm
    Nice Isn't Enough: How to Strengthen Your Power Base

    “Oh, isn’t that nice! What a sweet little program!”These words, though spoken with good intention, can be chilling to a garden- based educator: just ask someone whose school administrator has decided the garden needs to give way to a ‘much-needed’ athletic use, or whose city administrator has just revoked her lease for more ‘important’ development.

    The work of gardening with children and youth is often viewed as pleasant, lovely, or fun. Although it can be those things, it’s also vital to preparing a cadre of well-informed global citizens who will be responsible for alleviating climate change, fighting the growing tide of obesity, fostering a robust local economy and food system, transforming a fragmented educational system, and melding wisdom and heart to bring meaning into the lives of those who feel disconnected, fearful, or despondent. Join us in this general session as we roll up our sleeves, pump up our garden-based muscle, and offer you the tools to back up your good work with more than a pretty word.


    About Marcia Eames-Sheavly

    Marcia Eames-Sheavly is a senior lecturer as well as children and youth program leader for Cornell Garden-Based Learning in Ithaca, New York. She inspires international audiences through garden-based learning presentations and numerous publications, book chapters, and articles. She has received two Garden Writers Association awards, and is the 2005 recipient of American Horticultural Society’s Jane L. Taylor Award. She is a 2009 Kaplan Family Distinguished Faculty Fellow, an honor given for her commitment to academic service learning.


    David Sobel, Saturday, July 13 at 12:15pm
    Childhood and Nature: Design Principles for Educators

    When children have access to free play in natural areas, they do the same things around the country
    and around the world. They make special places, go on adventures, develop fantasy games, go hunting and
    gathering, craft small worlds. These recurrent play patterns can be used as design principles to help structure
    compelling outdoor activities with children. And these engagements can lead to environmental values and
    behaviors in adulthood.

    We'll recollect significant experiences from childhood, examine images of children involved in play,
    and gain insight into how parents and teachers can both bond children with the natural world while making
    learning more intriguing.

    About David Sobel

    David Sobel is Senior Faculty in the Education Department at Antioch University New England in Keene, NH. He consults and speaks widely on child development and place-based education with schools, environmental organizations and the National Park Service. He has authored seven books and more than 60 articles focused on children and nature for educators, parents, environmentalists and school administrators in the last 30 years.

    He has served on the editorial boards of Encounter, Community Works Journal and Orion Afield and writes a regular column for Community Works Journal. His articles and essays have appeared in Orion, Encounter, Sierra, Sanctuary, Wondertime, Green Teacher, Play Rights, Educational Leadership and the Harvard Education Letter. He has written chapters included in Father Nature; Stories from Where We Live-The North Atlantic Coast; Place- based Education in a Global Age; and The Child: An Encyclopedic Companion. His most recent books are Wild Play, Parenting Adventures in the Great Outdoors published by Sierra Books and Place- and Community-based Education in Schools published by Routledge.

    He was recognized as one of the Daring Dozen educational leaders in the United States in 2007 by Edutopia magazine. He works and plays in the Monadnock region of southwestern New Hampshire and is committed to cold water swimming, the exploration of landscape nooks and crannies and to joyfully embracing the gift of life on earth.

    Garden Explorations at Denver Botanic Gardens

    On Thursday and Friday of the Symposium, Denver Botanic Garden staff and volunteers will be stationed around particular gardens to help familiarize you with what DBG has to offer. Be sure to stop at one (or more!) of the gardens below:

    Thursday July 11, 2013 9:00am-10:00am

    Romantic Garden/Perennial Walk
    Japanese Garden/Bonsai Pavilion
    Rock Alpine Garden
    Plant Asia
    Children's Garden

    Friday July 12, 2013 9:00am-10:00am

    Western Panoramas/WaterSmart
    Sacred Earth
    Plant Select
    Dryland Mesa/Plains
    Children's Garden

    Download a map of Denver Botanic Gardens
    See all of the gardens at DBG