Peer-led Educational Sessions

peer-led educational sessions make up the meat of the National Children & Youth Garden Symposium.

Read over the descriptions below and select which sessions to view from our on-demand content library. 

Enhancing School Garden Programs using Horticultural Therapy
Trish Hildinger | Co-President and Owner | California Horticultural Therapy Network and Horticultural Therapy Santa Cruz
LaTrina Candia | Certified Horticultural Therapist | California Horticultural Therapy Network 

Activities in the garden provide the perfect opportunity to hone in on each child’s individual educational and developmental goals whether those are improving motor skills, promoting team work, or encouraging leadership. By default, horticultural therapy (HT) is already happening in the garden and by understanding horticultural therapy tools and techniques educators can enhance their time in the garden so that students can build integrative skills in a meaningful way. In this presentation attendees will learn about horticultural therapy, how to create HT activities, and will analyze documentation tools to track students’ progress. 

Crowdfunding Successes (and Challenges) for Garden-Based Education
Dr. Carrie Strohl | Founder and Leader | The School Garden Doctor

In the 21st century, online crowdfunding has become a popular way to reach and engage donors, but this form of fundraising can have as many challenges as it has successes. In this session, The School Garden Doctor will share insights from five different crowdfunding tools. In addition, other considerations for crowdfunding will be discussed so organizations of any size or type can consider this valuable fundraising method. Additional tips will include how to maintain donors, expand outreach, and pair fundraising with marketing. This session aims to inspire participants to expand their program offerings through sustainable funding models.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Inspiring Repurposing Materials in the Garden
Sarah Pounders | Education Specialist | KidsGardening
Emily Shipman | Executive Director | KidsGardening
Katie Simmons | Marketing Director | Evergreen Packaging

Youth gardens usually operate on a shoestring budget so there is no better way to cut costs than to find ways to repurpose common materials. Not only is this economical, it also sets the stage for teaching students about environmental stewardship, sustainable practices and healthy living. Since 2015, KidsGardening has partnered with Evergreen Packaging to offer the Carton 2 Garden Contest. In this session, we will share stories and videos of amazing Carton 2 Garden Contest winners with the goal of inspiring others to explore ways they can teach students how they can make a difference in their communities through everyday choices and practices like recycling and repurposing.

Creating an Engaging Experience Using Mobile Technology
Dave Asheim | President and Founder | Guide by Cell

Mobile technology can be a very powerful tool in both business and education settings. Within a business model, it can improve operations, raise sales revenue, cut expenses, and help visitors access important information. Within an education model, mobile technology engages today’s tech-savvy students in both the creation of mobile application and using the technology for learning. This session will share ways that mobile technology can be used in business and educational settings to enhance the learner or visitor experience from smartphone tours to mobile marketing and fundraising.

Empowering Youth Leaders Through Vermicomposting

Dylan Jones | Executive Director | One Cool Earth

Diverting food waste from our landfills is critical in reducing our carbon footprint. Come learn how to give our youth not only the knowledge they need to be successful in a changing environment, but the skills they need to lead the charge. One Cool Earth has installed campus wide food waste diversion programs at 20 schools in San Luis Obispo County. Attendees will leave this session with all the information needed to start a youth led, food waste diversion program on a school campus of any size.

Creating and Utilizing a Successful Internship Program
Cameron Barlow | Education Programs Manager | Botanical Research Institute of Texas

From a non-profit perspective, experience a detailed step-by-step process on how to create a sustainable internship program. No matter your resources, budget, type of programs, or size of organization, everyone can benefit from an internship program. Attendees to this session will gain an understanding of how to best utilize interns for ultimate program support while also providing a supportive learning environment for those interning. Learn from our successes and challenges to get ahead of the game. Discover how to start from scratch or gain new ideas for improvement and expansion of a current internship program.

Integrating Animals into Garden Education
Emma Yetter | Agriculture Educator 

Because animals play such an important role in regenerative agriculture and can provide unique opportunities for connecting young people to food and the outdoors, it is important to find creative and memorable ways to make them accessible and educational to when possible. This session will give general and specific ideas for designing lessons and hands-on activities that take advantage of any farm animals available at a garden education site. From grinding corn to feed chickens, to processing wool for mulch, to observing animal impact in rotationally grazed production fields, I will provide materials to facilitate safe, educational, authentic, and garden-centered activities for a wide variety of youth audiences.

Student-Led Permaculture Garden at the University of South Carolina
Andrew O’Flaherty | Office of Sustainability Garden Outreach Coordinator | University of South Carolina
Arlene Marturano | Director | South Carolina Garden-based Learning Network

Come with us on a tour of the Sustainable Carolina Garden, a working permaculture garden at the University of South Carolina that uses trained student leaders to work with volunteers to grow high quality produce and maintain the garden. This session will highlight our student leadership program and feature guidelines for successfully managing a student-led permaculture garden. We will also explore permaculture principles, how permaculture is incorporated into classes at the university, and how our students support monarch butterfly conservation.

Summer in the City: Growing a Green STEM Camp
Sarah O’Leary | Director of Youth and Family Education | Greater Newark Conservancy
Megan Sweet | Nutrition Education Coordinator | Greater Newark Conservancy

Learn how an experienced staff of school garden leaders and informal educators built a summer camp program to meet the growing demand for STEM summer programming. Using the 5 E’s (engage, explore, explain, elaborate, evaluate) we decided to test our ideas about what truly engaged summer learning could look like in the garden, greenhouse and kitchen. We will look at specific curriculum and programs to explore how we brought outdoor education to city kids, implemented a project-based curriculum, used our entire Urban Environmental Center to become a living laboratory, and combined deep STEM learning with activities proven to generate excitement.

Outside the Box: Extending School Garden Curriculum Beyond Plant Science
Amy Bowman | STEM Education Extension Associate | NCSU Plants for Human Health Institute
Doug Vernon | Extension Assistant | NCSU Plants for Human Health Institute

It is easy for most educators to see the direct connection between the school garden and plant science. It can be more difficult to connect the garden to other learning standards/objectives. This session will help teachers and garden educators recognize opportunities to teach concepts in math, English Language Arts, social studies and science in the school garden, while integrating classroom management strategies for working with students in an outdoor learning space.

Peace Education and Social-Emotional Learning in the Garden
Symon Hajjar | Program Director | Global Gardens
Kristen Bailey | Program Director | Global Gardens

At Global Gardens, we believe that the garden is the perfect vehicle for peace education, which helps students develop the attitudes, skills, and behaviors to live in harmony within themselves, others, and the natural environment. During this session, we will share language and activities to nurture students’ competence at understanding themselves, processing complex emotions, working cooperatively, communicating peacefully, and appreciating the differences that strengthen a community. Participants will have opportunities to engage in team-building exercises, hands-on games, and more.

Plants to the Rescue: 101 Botany for Educators
Lee Coykendall | Senior Education Specialist | United States Botanic Garden
Sarah Pounders | Education Specialist | KidsGardening
Emily Shipman | Executive Director | KidsGardening
Cameron Barlow | Education Programs Manager | Botanical Research Institute of Texas

Through a series of hands on experiments, participants will (re)discover the joys of using plants to teach. Educators will learn just how versatile plants are in helping us to teach structure and function, cycle of matter and energy, and ecosystem dynamics. Presenters will demonstrate three activities using well-vetted, easily adaptable lesson plans. The session will conclude with a discussion on plant adaption and how we might take our learned/refreshed botany, lesson plans, and hands on activities and adapt them to work for our organization.

Garden Day Camp FUN!
Dr. Shelley Mitchell | Associate Extension Specialist | Oklahoma State University

Learn about some tried-and-true activities from almost a decade of garden day camps! Whether you have access to a garden or not, these activities are easily done with common and inexpensive materials. Come away with instructions for three or more weeks of full-day day camp, activities all kid-approved and used multiple times throughout the years. Logistics of running an all-day day camp will also be covered. Many of these activities are great for classroom instruction as well.

Regenerative Gardening: techniques for growing a healthy planet
Levi Brewster | Learning Specialist | New Horizon School Pasadena

Our earth is a regenerative system. Air, water and soil make up a beautiful and complex cycle that supports all life on this planet. By learning to work with these natural systems, we can create thriving gardens and healthy ecosystems. Following a presentation on the principles of regenerative gardening, attendees will conduct a field study of the site. We will map how water moves, how nutrients are being stored and used, and what opportunities we see for wildlife. The session will close with discussion about how we can implement these ideas to create a thriving garden that supports healthy ecosystems, grows food, and connects people.

Return of the Dirt Girls
Dr. Carrie Strohl | Founder and Leader | The School Garden Doctor
Dr. Amanda Crump | Assistant Professor of Teaching in International Agricultural Development | University of California, Davis

Women make up only 29% of the STEM workforce. To close this gender gap, horticulture programs can be developed to provide a gateway to scientific professions. Dirt Girls is one such program that inspires female youth to pursue science by introducing opportunities to engage in scientific investigation, practice healthy habits, and become environmentally literate. Participants will virtually experience the Dirt Girls way, then reflect on how the session empowers youth and promotes gender equity. Additionally, they will learn about the unique apprenticeship model used to recruit and coach mentors and receive a draft copy of Dirt Girl Deck, the activities used to give structure to a garden session.

Spice up your Classroom
Dr. Mary Beth Bennett | Extension Agent & Master Gardener Coordinator | WVU Berkeley County Extension Office

Once valued as highly as gold, spices were much sought after in the West and the quest for spices influenced the course of history. Although the days of fighting over spices has ended, spices still play a significant role in the economies of many countries and help make our food more enjoyable and flavorful. This workshop will explore spices in our everyday lives through a variety of activities to interest children in learning more about them and the history of the world around them.

Universal Design for Garden-Based Learning: Opportunity and access for all
Dianna Zeegers | National Curriculum Manager | Big Green

Universal Design for Learning is a framework that assumes all learners have variability in any learning task or setting. By employing UDL, educators can ensure that all students are able to achieve outcomes in the garden setting. UDL empowers educators to design for variabilities including: background knowledge, socio-economic status, cultural similarities/differences, interest, and many more. This session will provide the fundamentals of UDL and how they apply to the garden. Participants will leave with activities, strategies, resources, and tools they can use immediately and in the future to improve opportunities for all students.

Designing Student-Centered NGSS Lessons in the Garden
Sara Severance | Educator Training Specialist | Life Lab
Aisling Mitchell | Partner Schools Program Coordinator | Life Lab

Learn how to design and teach engaging, student-centered garden lessons based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Research shows that phenomenon-based inquiry in the garden supports deeper comprehension. It can be a challenge, however, to enact. Using Life Lab’s newly updated NGSS-aligned curriculum, participants will observe a lesson on seed dispersal and then dissect parts of the lesson that truly make it NGSS-aligned and student-centered. Participants will take away three concrete strategies that put student thinking and NGSS practices at the forefront and can be applied to any lesson in the garden.

Educational Orchards in Schools
Richard Hodges | Program Manager | ReTreeUS

Fruit trees can be a great fit in a school setting. Session participants will learn how to establish and maintain a healthy orchard and the accompanying benefits and potential challenges. ReTreeUS has created orchard-based curricula, particularly focusing on pollination, and also complied numerous lessons that connect the orchard with learning standards. Participants will view and discuss these resources and walk away with an understanding of how to create and utilize an orchard classroom.

Lessons from the Field: Pathways for Women in Horticulture
Dr. Amanda Crump | Professor | University of California, Davis
Dr. Carrie Strohl | Founder and Leader | The School Garden Doctor
Ana Zepeda | Graduate Student | University of California, Davis
Jessica Wallach | Graduate Student | University of California, Davis

By most accounts, women are the biggest consumers in the horticulture industry. Yet, gender inequity persists in leadership roles, organizational structures, and policy. This session shares three different cases to illustrate how organizations can create equitable opportunities for women. Drawing on theoretical perspectives from the fields of feminist and critical theory, presenters will guide participants to examine practices that make their horticultural programs accessible to women. Through introspection, participants will identify ways to evaluate the degree to which their offerings empower women to be leaders in horticulture.

Complicating Categories and Moving Beyond Binaries: Diversity and Garden Education
Kavanah Anderson | Education Program Coordinator |    Duke Gardens
Kati Henderson | Youth and Young Adult Educator | Duke Gardens

Categories help us understand the world, but can also close us off from appreciating things that don’t align with our assumptions. A garden is an ideal place for exploring the limits of categories, because our environments are complex, interdependent, and directly observable. Recognizing the limitations of traditional categories will help us support and prepare students to be observant and critical thinkers, connect gardens to students’ lives, and more clearly understand the world around us. In this workshop we’ll identify and address some potentially harmful categories around gender, disability, and race that can show up in education and outdoor learning. Then we’ll explore ways to incorporate these ideas into our teaching.

Exploring Hydroponics: Investigating Food Systems of the Future
Sarah Pounders | Education Specialist | KidsGardening
Jenileigh Harris | Program Associate | National Farm to School Network
Imelda Rodriguez | Special Projects and Events Director | Sunrise Middle School

With our changing climate and growing population, what will our food system look like in 10 years? 25 years? Through the Gro More Good Hydroponics Pilot, presenting organizations have teamed up to create a program designed to introduce elementary-aged students to hydroponic growing techniques and explore ways that hydroponics may impact the availability of fresh, local food in urban areas and other challenging environments in the future. After an overview of the program, pilot participant Imelda Rodriguez will share her students’ hydroponic gardening adventures. Attendees may try out some of the lessons from the Exploring Hydroponics Guide and will take home ideas and inspiration for incorporating hydroponics into their own garden program.

Hot Off the Press – A Greenhouse Manual for Educators
Lee Coykendall | Senior Education Specialist | United States Botanic Garden
Tara McNerney | Executive Director | City Blossoms
Willa Pohlman | Director of Programming and Trainings | City Blossoms

Participants will explore some of the many ways a greenhouse can support STEM learning and look at examples of greenhouses. Presenters will demonstrate a hands-on activity contained within the Greenhouse Manual in order to understand its easy use and broad applicability to many audiences. The workshop will serve as an introduction to how greenhouses can be incorporated into classrooms and out-of school-learning as well as covering some challenges and solutions to supporting students in getting hands-on learning in a greenhouse. Participants are encouraged to download a copy of the Greenhouse Manual.

Mass media to connect school gardens with cafeteria and community
Dr. Michelle Markesteyn | COO – Chief Organizational Optimist | Rootopia
Rick Sherman | Farm to school and school garden coordinator | Oregon Department of Education

The Oregon Department of Education has partnered with Rootopia, an edutainment company, and Oregon State University Extension to develop videos for the Oregon Harvest for Schools toolkit. Presenters will lead an activity that brings to life the creative process of engaging youth in content creation, evaluation, video production and social marketing and demonstrate how, through storytelling, you can model variables known to positively influence youth attitudes and behaviors related to school, food, and the environment. Finally, presenters will share non-traditional sources of funding for communications and methods to evaluate the efficacy of your communications.

Teaching About Food, Soil, and Climate Change
Whitney Cohen | Education Director | Life Lab
Caitlin Joseph | California Food for California Kids® Statewide Coordinator | Center for Ecoliteracy
Jessica Handy | Education Coordinator | Kiss the Ground

In this workshop, participants will consider the critical importance of teaching about the connections between food, agricultural practices, healthy soils, and climate change. Attendees will be introduced to and sample three different curricular resources designed to help students unpack the science behind climate change and regenerative agriculture. Following these activities, participants will consider how they might apply what they’ve learned to support students in understanding the complex relationship between food, soil, and climate change.