NCYGS 2020
Live General Sessions


The American Horticultural Society was delighted to present the following live sessions, July 8-10, at NCYGS 2020! The past few months have been a challenging time for all of us, but it has also introduced so many new people to the joys of gardening. We hope that these sessions will inspire you for the new challenges and opportunities that await, whether it is reimagining summer camps, designing safe and sustainable gardens, or creating and delivering educational programs that better meet the needs of your community.

Recordings of these sessions (plus prerecorded sessions) will be available until June 30, 2021. 



Reimagining Relevance and Public Value: What will we become? Of, by, and for whom?

Wednesday, July 8, 1:00PM (EDT)

Of/By/For All teamCOVID-19 is challenging many of us to rethink how we lead, create, raise funds, program, and engage with communities. If the pandemic is a portal (as Arundhati Roy puts it), where do we hope it will lead us? How can we reimagine and reinvent our organizations to be more relevant, equitable, and sustainable?

OF/BY/FOR ALL is a non-profit organization that provides tools to help civic and cultural organizations matter more to more people. They offer clear, easy-to-use digital tools to help you make strategic decisions and transform your organization to become of, by, and for your community. Their tools are field-tested and adaptable to organizations of different sizes, sectors, and regions of the world.

In this interactive session, Nina Simon will share concrete strategies to help your team re-vision your organization and your relationship with the communities that matter most to your future. Nina will draw from her current work as Spacemaker and CEO of OF/BY/FOR ALL, as well as her past experience leading a small museum from the brink of bankruptcy to transformative community impact. You’ll leave the session with inspiring examples from around the world and concrete tools you can use this summer to reimagine a community-centered future.


Life Lab’s Secret Sauce – Applying Lessons Learned Over 40 Years Supporting School Gardens in Today’s Changing World

Thursday, July 9, 1:00PM (EDT)

Life Lab logoDrawing on over forty years of work with young people in gardens, Life Lab, is a national leader in the garden-based learning movement. Through workshops and consultations, Life Lab has provided tens of thousands of educators across the country with the inspiration and information necessary to engage young people in gardens and on farms.

Whitney Cohen, Education Director will share “Life Lab’s secret sauce,” emphasizing the key, replicable elements that make each program successful. She will also speak on the potential of outdoor learning spaces in the current era and the importance of sharing with and learning from peers through the School Garden Support Org Network.

Whitney Cohen, Life LabWhitney Cohen is a teacher, trainer, and author with tremendous commitment to, and expertise in, inquiry- and place-based education; strategies for engaging diverse learners; school gardens; and the intersection between environmental and food education and public schools. As the Education Director of Life Lab, a national leader in garden-based education, Cohen presents hands-on workshops to approximately 1,000 educators annually, and leads a national leadership institute for school garden support organizations. She has also written activity guides, including The Book of Gardening Projects for Kids, Food Corps’ Sprout Scouts, and The American Heart Association’s Teaching Garden Guide. Cohen is a former middle school science teacher and currently teaches “Teaching Environmental Education” at UC Santa Cruz. She received a BA from Vassar College in Sustainable Community Development and an MA from UC Santa Cruz in Education.

Introducing Youth to Careers in Horticulture – Panel Discussion
Inspiring students about the rewards and diverse green-collar careers found in the art, science, technology and business of plants

Friday, July 10, 1:00pm (EDT)
Sponsored by Ball Horticultural

Seed Your Future logoHelp us to inspire the next generation of plant tenders by expanding the notion of a plant-based job or career. In partnership with Seed Your Future, the American Horticultural Society has assembled a group of individuals representing careers that are not exactly top-of-mind when one thinks of plant-related work. As pre-teens and teens begin to consider post-secondary education and career possibilities, they are often limited by traditional (sometimes outdated) conceptions of what a lawyer/engineer/teacher does and by what they see around them.

With this panel discussion, we will introduce you to the work of several people with outside-the-box plant-related careers, learn what led them to these careers, and share examples of how you might find resources within your own (real or virtual) community to use interesting, multidisciplinary, and impactful careers as a “hook” to engage middle and high school students with plant studies.

Panelists will include:

  • BRAD AUSTIN, Imaginative Florals, Owner, Special Event Florist, and Emmy Award Winning Designer, Merida, Yucatan, Mexico and Los Angeles, CA
  • COLBY BORCHETTA, The Center for Tree Science – The Morton Arboretum, Drone Pilot and Research Assistant, Lisle, IL 
  • TANNER BURGDORF, Groundwork Bridgeport, Project Lead – Youth Development Program, Bridgeport, CT 
  • AURELIE de RUS JACQUET, Ph.D., Laval University, Ethnopharmacologist, Quebec City, QC, Canada 
  • ABRA LEE, Conquer the Soil, Horticulturist and Garden Clothing Brand Founder and Designer, Atlanta, GA  
  • MEGHAN WIESBROCK, Planted Podcast – Finding Your Roots in STEM Careers, Co-host; The Morton Arboretum, Manager of Curriculum and Instruction, Lisle, IL
  • Moderator — SUSAN E. YODER, IOM, Seed Your Future, Executive Director, Martinsville, IN

See more information about our panelists.