National Children & Youth Garden Symposium

Cultivating Garden Educators who Inspire Today’s Youth to Become Tomorrow’s Gardeners

Since 1993, the American Horticultural Society’s (AHS) National Children & Youth Garden Symposium (NCYGS) has educated thousands of teachers who have, in turn, gone on to educate over a million children: A million children who take this knowledge and apply it to the world around them with curiosity, energy, and genuine appreciation.

Mark your calendar! NCYGS 2024 will take place July 8-11 in Chicago’s North Shore. The submission window for session proposals is now closed. All those who submitted will be notified of their proposal status in January. Learn more. 


Every year, the National Children & Youth Garden Symposium brings together educators, landscape architects and designers, staff at botanic gardens, non-profits, and more from around the country who are all working to engage children with gardens and the natural world that surrounds them.

Begun over 30 years ago, the symposium explores and promotes the many opportunities offered by children’s gardens: helping children develop social skills, enhancing school curricula, bringing families together, and creating an awareness of the link between nature and our food, clothing and shelter.

In 1993 the American Horticultural Society saw a need to reconnect children with nature, so it created the first Children & Youth Garden Symposium that educated and inspired people to look at garden design from a new point of view.

Since that date, thousands of children’s gardens have been created all over the world: landscapes designed specifically for children and the way they play, explore, and interact. 

AHS is proud to have opened the doors for so many, and the Society continues to embrace all youth garden programming that not only reinforces what has been accomplished so far, but takes children’s gardens into new territory.

Learn about our past symposia.

Symposium Attendees Share:

“I tell everyone at every conference that if you can only go to one conference a year, this should be it! There is nowhere else to network with youth garden experts. There is Ag in the Classroom, but it’s not mainly gardens. This is the conference for any youth horticulture educator. Even though I’ve been coming 14 years, I still learn new things every time! And meet new people that I correspond with and collaborate with!” – Shelley Mitchell, Oklahoma State University

“I was fortunate to attend the NYCGS through one of their scholarships and I’m so glad I was able to take advantage of the opportunity. As a new outdoor educator, being able to spend time with my peers from other regions was invaluable for me. I made great connections that I have already followed up with regarding implementing programming this school year. The symposium solidified for me that allowing young people to immerse themselves in nature – based education is not just important, but should be commonplace in all learning environments.” – Natalie M. Green, Community Agriculturalist with Henrico County Public Schools 

“As a first-time attendee I was blown away by the breadth and depth of offerings. I’m not aware of another event that includes such a variety of practitioners who are passionate about children in gardens. (Not just outdoors, but GARDENS!)” – Dawn Kairis, Middlesex, NC

“People sometimes ask me, if I could only attend one conference this year, which would it be? Hands down, I tell them NCYGS!” – Kim Bailey, Milkweed Meadows Farm

“I keep coming back to the symposium every year because I love the diverse topics and the great people, conference site, food, bookstore, trips…. in essence, everything!” – Dr. Lolly Tai, Temple University

“The contacts I made at the symposium have given me the encouragement and ideas to help in developing our garden’s children and youth educational programming. The conversations and sessions have not only shown me new programmatic ideas, but they have also helped show me possible ways to structure the educational programs and lay out a plan for future programmatic direction.” – Derrick Stowell, University of Tennessee Gardens, Winner of the 2022 AHS Horticultural Therapy Award 


NCYGS in the News:


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