Peer-led Educational Sessions

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

The below sessions will be available to view, beginning July 1, from our on-demand content library. Recorded sessions will be available to view for all symposium registrants.

Presenters, check here for guidelines for prerecording your session.

Sessions are categorized by topic:

Curriculum
Community
Green Practices
Resilience
Advanced Studies
Leadership

Curriculum

These sessions give viewers the tools/knowledge to create lessons focusing on topics relating to plants and gardening.

Celebrating Diversity in the Garden
Denise Stewardson | Extension Associate Professor, Director AITC | Utah Agriculture in the Classroom

Literature can provide real-world examples of multiculturalism, especially in a garden setting where students can experience such stories in place-based, authentic learning. These stories that celebrate diverse cultures can be recreated in gardens where students have opportunities to share customs, behaviors, traditions, and languages. This session will share literature examples that focus on multiculturalism and will give attendees access to dozens of free, online resources that link to educational standards in science, social studies, and nutrition. Attendees will receive instruction on ways to celebrate diversity in the garden through implementation of hands-on experiences.


Creating Opportunities for Family Bonding Using Online Garden Education
Whitney Welch | Garden Educator | University of Tennessee Gardens

During this session, participants will learn how to balance the necessity of being online with the goal of getting children and their families outdoors. Presenters will share their process of creating an online summer camp and discuss considerations for any online educational program such as length of the session (and a child’s attention span) and how to address a child’s need to move. Also, favorite camp activities will be shared as examples of what can be done to promote exploration and understanding of the outdoors while bringing families together.


Dancing with flowers: Building science and engineering skills with students through pollination
Dr. Mary Legoria | Science Laboratory Teacher | East Baton Rouge Parish Schools
Dr. Pamela Blanchard | Associate Professor, Science Education | Louisiana State University School of Education

Butterflies, bees and hummingbirds are a wonderful way to introduce young children to the crucial connection between pollinators and the plants they rely on for nectar. This session will introduce a series of connected early elementary activities around the theme of pollination and provide opportunities for participants to engineer and build a bee condo and a hummingbird feeder. We’ll discuss how these activities address the Next Generation Science Standards, the development of environmental literacy through the phases of engagement, empathy, knowledge and action (stewardship), and the role of citizen science projects connected with pollinators.


Farm to Early Care and Education: Growing Healthy Habits
Erica Krug | Outreach Specialist | Rooted/Wisconsin School Garden Network
Kim Wahl | Education Director | Rooted

Did you know that farm to Early Care and Education (ECE) activities engage the whole child, encourage lifelong healthy habits, and provide lots of opportunities for fun? In this session, intended for educators of children ages 0 to 5, the presenters will provide a firm understanding of the core areas of farm to ECE and the benefits for young children, discuss how it addresses social and racial equity and provides opportunities for social-emotional and cognitive skill development, and share lots of activities that can be implemented at environmental education sites, schools, and natural areas.


The Global Grocery Bag
Dr. Mary Beth Bennett | Agriculture & Natural Resource Extension Agent | West Virginia Berkeley County Extension Office

What are the factors that truly impact the ability to produce food? Why do American grocery stores have such a large variety of food compared to other countries around the world? This session will shed light on food production around the world and all its various contributing factors – climate, soil type, annual precipitation, open space/arable land, economics/government, and access to machines and other technologies.  The presenter will also introduce innovative ways to help students explore the many careers that are involved in global food production.


Growing Buried Treasure: Why Everyone Should Grow Sweet Potatoes
Amy Bowman | STEM Education Extension Associate | Plants for Human Health Institute
Doug Vernon | Extension Assistant, Outreach Specialist | Plants for Human Health Institute

Sweet potatoes are a low maintenance crop that can be grown in almost every state and produce maximum nutritional value, learning opportunities, and fun! Join the presenters to learn about starting your own sweet potato slips, growing sweet potatoes in containers, and the magic of coming back to school and harvesting the buried treasure.  Presenters will include curriculum connections, hands-on activities that can be done during and with the harvest, and ideas for how to use the harvest as a fundraiser.


How to Find Reliable Resources for Teaching Sustainability
Pam Hosimer | Maryland Master Gardener, Montgomery County | University of MD Extension

We are bombarded with cool books and websites daily, but how do we tell fluff from facts? Learn the how and why of curating reliable, research-based sources, both print and online, that uniquely support the content of lessons and programs to inspire all ages. Finding and vetting reliable resources to use in virtual and in-person teaching will be demonstrated. An exploration of books and websites will illustrate this process, focusing on how technology can be incorporated to add enrichment to programming. An explanation of how resources can be used as teaching tools to extend student knowledge will be covered with a special focus on topics related to sustainability.


Indoor Garden Magic: Growing Under Lights with Kids
Sarah Pounders | Senior Education Specialist | KidsGardening
Brit MacDonald | National Program Director | Little Green Thumbs

Indoor gardens offer educators the chance to implement plant-based activities and investigations year round no matter where you live.  When installed in or near main instructional space, they can also serve as a convenient way to incorporate garden lessons regularly and many times are more accessible and flexible than outdoor youth gardens. In this session, presenters will recommend tools and materials needed to create a successful indoor garden space and share favorite lessons and activity ideas.


Literacy Moves Outdoors: Story Walks, Word Gardens, and Interpretive Signage
Dr. Valerie Bang-Jensen | Professor and Chair, Education Department | Saint Michael’s College

Rather than simply replicating our indoor practices outdoors, moving literacy outside invites us to change our understanding of what literacy is and simultaneously, how it can deepen our understanding of gardens and sense of place. This session explores three purposeful ways to move reading and writing into gardens and natural settings. Join the presenter to explore “Story Walks,” also known as story hikes or strolls, word gardens – a tool to create poetry or messages, and interpretive signage. The session will provide an overview of the goals and logistics and examples of Story Walks, Word Gardens, and Interpretive Signage.


Preventing Plant Blindness: Using phenology of plants to engage children
Dr. Mary Legoria | Science Laboratory Teacher | East Baton Rouge Parish Schools
Dr. Pamela Blanchard | Associate Professor, Science Education | Louisiana State University School of Education

Educational research and observations have long recognized a lack of engagement that children and adults have with plants and with nature in general. Children (and adults) rarely pause and consider the plants in a school or botanical garden. In this session, the presenters will share strategies using phenology (the study of cyclic and seasonal changes – especially in relation to climate, plant, and animal life) to engage families, school groups, and other visitor groups in specific conversations about plants and animals in garden settings.


Remote Learning Strategies We Can Use in Future Garden Classes
Corrie Chambers | School Garden Coordinator | Growing Gardens

2020 was a dramatically different garden year for most Garden Educators across the globe. Many changes that occurred during this drastically different gardening season (video lessons, concentrated gardening geared toward food insecurity, distancing volunteers in the garden) could be useful in the education garden moving forward. Join us to discuss how this forced learning opportunity is a time to reflect on how we can make gardening with students and community members more of a year round activity, celebrating all 4 seasons in the garden.


School Gardening throughout the Seasons: Indoor and Outdoor, September-May!
Carol Smathers | Associate Professor, Director of Ohio Farm to School | Ohio State University Extension

Dr. Timothy McDermott | Extension Educator | Ohio State University Extension
Christine Weatherholtz | Nutrition Education, Farm to School Coordinator K-12 | Columbus City Schools

While traditional growing seasons begin in spring, educators’ activities wind down then. “Growing Teachers throughout the Seasons” (GTS) turns the traditional school garden growing season on its head! The GTS approach supports educators by using growing techniques such as seed-starting under LED lights, raised beds with season extension, and aeroponics throughout the school year, regardless of school location. In this session, we will (1) outline the GTS September-May school year growing cycle, (2) describe and display materials and resources needed to implement school year growing.


Slow Food USA School Gardens: Good, Clean, & Fair Curriculum
Neha Shah | Teacher, AAPS Farm to School Collaborative Co-Chair | Ann Arbor Public Schools
Kim Aman | Program Director | Grow Garden Grow
Cynthia Walters | Educator, Professional Development Instructor | Olentangy Local School District

Leaders from the Slow Food USA School Garden Network will frame the presentation with the pillars of good, clean, and fair food for all.  An introduction to the Slow Food USA Curriculum Guides will allow participants to readily implement activities for the next school year. With the premise of school gardens being a solution to equitable access to healthy fruits and vegetables, regeneration of the environment, and paying homage to those who grow and produce food, participants will be equipped to create sustainable programs that can be embedded into the existing curriculum.


Stations and Rotations for Garden Care and Classroom Management
John Fisher | Director of Programs and Partnerships | Life Lab

This fast paced presentation will provide garden educators with new ideas and activities to engage children in garden maintenance and support classroom management. Ideas shared are tried and true, easy to set up, and engage with the physical garden site instead of lesson kit materials or curriculum. Activity themes will include observation and monitoring, experimentation, garden maintenance, and gifts from the garden. Participants will leave with a digital handout and links to informative web-based resources to replicate or adapt activities in their garden programs.


Using Early Childhood Education Philosophies to Design Garden Curriculum for Multi-Age Programs
Ashly Tamayo | Farm Educator | Coastal Roots Farm
Sharone Oren | Education Manager | Coastal Roots Farm

Garden and farm education often requires multi-age programming to meet the needs of the communities it serves. Designing a curriculum that can be used by the youngest learners that also engages older students and meets their learning goals can be challenging for educators. This session will introduce early childhood education philosophies such as the Reggio Emilia Approach, Montessori and Play based curriculum along with ways in which these ideologies may be applied to make holistic, nature and garden education accessible to a diverse developmental learning community.


Using Mobile Mapping Technology to Engage Youth in Education Programs
Emily White | Project Manager | Guidy by Cell
Melissa Burdick | Executive Director | Brenton Arboretum

Join presenters to discuss an exciting project that uses mobile technology to catalog and map plant species, guide visitors through the Arboretum, and facilitate youth education programs. Depending on their setting, educators can use this technology to create similar youth education programs or to assist youth in creating interactive maps of their own garden. The interactive maps can include quizzes, scavenger hunts, videos, and opportunities for users to upload photos of plants and participate in discussion boards. The maps can also be used to take a virtual field trip to a garden or arboretum.


Virtual Programming from the 4-H Children’s Gardens: Wonderkits
Dr. Norm Lownds | Professor and Curator | Michigan 4-H Children’s Gardens

This session will explore the 4-H Children’s Gardens approach to ongoing, impactful, virtual programming in response to Covid-19.  Our approach was to create Wonderkits that were distributed to students that would usually visit the garden on field trips.  We will explore the Wonderkits that we created and all the support materials necessary to ensure success.  Join us to learn more about how the hands-on Wonderkits, supported by extensive online materials, worked to engage teachers and students.  Participants will come away with ideas, approaches, and tools applicable to any garden and educational programs.

Community

These sessions will discuss partnerships, collaboration, and volunteer-based activities designed to grow and sustain community engagement and support.

Engaging Garden Visitors in Climate Change Research through Community Science
Taran Lichtenberger | Budburst Community Engagement Manager | Chicago Botanic Garden

Budburst is a community science project of the Chicago Botanic Garden that allows participants to contribute meaningful data on the impacts of climate change. The goal of this session will not only be to introduce Budburst, teach attendees how to participate, and illustrate the value of these data, but also to facilitate discussion on forming and maintaining partnerships, recruiting and sustaining community scientists, and involving all types of stakeholders in research question creation and data analysis.


Fourth Grade Science, Sustainability, and Service Learning in Community Gardens
Vanessa Go | Junior School Science Specialist Teacher | United Nations International School
Jane Barrer | Junior School Library Media Specialist, Information Literacy Teacher | United Nations International School

This presentation will describe the design of an integrated unit in the presenters’ fourth grade humanities, science, and library classes, exploring the themes of community activism, sustainability/resiliency, and local history. The presenters will share how a trip to a community garden provided opportunity for field inquiry, scientific research, and oral interviews with  community gardeners. The students then participated in “It’s My Park,” a program by the NYC Parks Department, for citizens to be involved in the improvement of local parks. This session is designed to help participants identify community resources and strategize excursions to local sites to integrate different curricular units and service learning projects.


Growing a Vibrant Youth Gardening Community
Em Shipman | Executive Director | KidsGardening
Amelia Dupuis | Kids Garden Community Manager | KidsGardening

Because youth gardens are inherently place-based, garden educators often struggle to connect with one another to share their experiences and learning. Additionally, time is scarce and educators are often stretched thin. Without means to learn from each other and access the best work in the field, garden-based education can mean duplicating efforts in isolation. The Kids Garden Community is a free online community developed to address these issues and give garden educators access to lesson plans, resources, and grants. In this session, Em Shipman and Amelia Dupuis of KidsGardening will provide an in-depth, virtual tour of the Kids Garden Community and all the many resources it has to offer.


Using School Gardens to Support of Community Food Access
Christine Gall | Program Director | KidsGardening

In this session presenters will share success stories from schools garden leaders that have utilized their gardens to address community food access during the Covid-19 Pandemic.  From developing a district-run backpack feeding program to deliver food to food insecure students to partnering with a local hunger relief agency to facilitate a food pantry at a school, these school garden leaders will share what motivates them to care for their community and the best practices that have worked for them.


Wisconsin School Garden Day: Community Organizing for Garden Education
Renata Solan | Communications Director | Rooted/Wisconsin School Garden Network
Nathan Larson | Director of Cultivate Health Initiative | UW Madison

Beginning in 2019, Wisconsin’s governor has proclaimed a School Garden Day annually in May. Presenters will discuss how they leveraged the strength of the garden-based education network to request a Governor’s Proclamation and how the day became an event to recognize and energize people. We will illustrate strategies for engaging the community, advocating to leaders and elected officials, and using rallying events to build support from new and existing stakeholders. Participants will walk away with tools to consider how their programs’ stories can serve as the basis for successful community organizing and advocacy.


Youth Perspectives: Effective Collaborations for Student Learning, Leadership, and Advocacy
Dr. Debbie Millikan | Sustainability Specialist | ‘Ioland School – Oahu Farm to School Network
Colby Takeda | Senior Manager – Strategic Partnerships & Initiatives | Blue Zones Project
Tyler Levine, Sabastian Lambert, and Grace Monaco

SEEDS of Honua is a youth-led movement involving over 1200 youth from 60+ schools in seed and resource sharing. In this session, hear from inspiring youth leaders engaged in developing, deploying, and evaluating innovative school garden and food system projects. They will share data and recommendations to overcome barriers to gardening, utilize age- and culturally-appropriate learning methods, and capitalize on the interests of youth. Together, students and adult allies are effectively collaborating to develop a better food system through education, volunteerism, and policy change.

 

Green Practices

These sessions demonstrate best practices and innovations in environmental sustainability in the design and operation of youth gardens.

Classroom Aquaponics with Drop the Beet Farms
Cody Parker | Founder | Drop the Beet Farms

What is aquaponics? Join the founder of Drop the Beets Farm to learn what happens when you combine aquaculture and hydroponics. Aquaponics saves 90% of water, is herbicide free, and is naturally fertilized by fish in a recirculating ecosystem. Come explore the world of aquaponics and see how Drop the Beet Farms transformed the largest aquaponics system in New Jersey into an educational hub. The virtual tour will teach the basics of aquaponics and how aquaponics ecosystems can inspire future generations to grow food sustainably.


Designing Nature Based Risky Play for Children
Dr. Lolly Tai | Professor of Landscape Architecture | Temple University

Designing nature based risky play environments that are attractive to children requires a thoughtful landscape design process. These types of outdoor environments allow children to play freely and develop physically and socially with fewer constraints. The presenter will use one exemplary case study from her upcoming book, “Let Play Bloom: Nature Based Risky Play for Children” to explain the design process and criteria. The forthcoming book is intended to serve as a guide to inspire well-designed children’s outdoor spaces.


Designing with Nature at the Dallas Arboretum’s Children’s Adventure Garden
Allen Juba | Principal | MKW + Associates, LLC

Join landscape architect Allen Juba on a virtual tour of the award winning Children’s Adventure Garden at the Dallas Arboretum that highlights how the garden’s design facilitates interactions with nature. Visit the Oasis pollinator garden, located on an open-air roof, where visitors are part of the “aerial plane”, like pollinators, and are surrounded by pollinator-attractive plantings.  Then stop by the Habitat Garden that integrates faunal requirements of food, water and shelter in a compact setting, making it seem larger than it is. Water was used as both a didactic and organizing element throughout the project and expresses itself in various ways as the garden unfolds downhill.

 

Growing Successful and Sustainable School Gardens
Amy Sidran | Farm Education Coordinator | The Hotchkiss School

Sadly, the majority of school gardens begun each year will fail within the first five years. Based on experience and research, the presenter will share the common elements and features of schools with successful long-term school gardens. These specific characteristics enable the garden to become a permanent fixture in the school community and therefore, school culture. Participants will leave with strategies, resources, and tools they can use immediately and in the future to increase the sustainability of all school gardens.


Indoor Garden Magic: Growing Under Lights with Kids
Sarah Pounders | Senior Education Specialist | KidsGardening
Brit MacDonald | National Program Director | Little Green Thumbs

Indoor gardens offer educators the chance to implement plant-based activities and investigations year round no matter where you live.  When installed in or near main instructional space, they can also serve as a convenient way to incorporate garden lessons regularly and many times are more accessible and flexible than outdoor youth gardens. In this session, presenters will recommend tools and materials needed to create a successful indoor garden space and share favorite lessons and activity ideas.

 

School Gardening throughout the Seasons: Indoor and Outdoor, September-May!
Carol Smathers | Associate Professor, Director of Ohio Farm to School | Ohio State University Extension

Dr. Timothy McDermott | Extension Educator | Ohio State University Extension
Christine Weatherholz | Nutrition Education, Farm to School Coordinator K-12 | Columbus City Schools

While traditional growing seasons begin in spring, educators’ activities wind down then. “Growing Teachers throughout the Seasons” (GTS) turns the traditional school garden growing season on its head! The GTS approach supports educators by using growing techniques such as seed-starting under LED lights, raised beds with season extension, and aeroponics throughout the school year, regardless of school location. In this session, we will (1) outline the GTS September-May school year growing cycle, (2) describe and display materials and resources needed to implement school year growing.


Using Mobile Mapping Technology to Engage Youth in Education Programs
Emily White | Project Manager | Guidy by Cell
Melissa Burdick | Executive Director | Brenton Arboretum

Join presenters to discuss an exciting project that uses mobile technology to catalog and map plant species, guide visitors through the Arboretum, and facilitate youth education programs. Depending on their setting, educators can use this technology to create similar youth education programs or to assist youth in creating interactive maps of their own garden. The interactive maps can include quizzes, scavenger hunts, videos, and opportunities for users to upload photos of plants and participate in discussion boards. The maps can also be used to take a virtual field trip to a garden or arboretum.

Resilience

These sessions discuss challenges and propose methods to help diverse student populations grow and thrive in an outdoor setting.

Centering Antiracism and Abolitionist Teaching in Garden-Based Learning
Dr. Scott Morrison | Associate Professor | Elon University
Dani Toma-Harrold | Student | Elon University

While environmental and place-based education don’t inherently address racism and white supremacy, getting outside and especially into gardens can be radically antiracist. In this session, presenters will discuss how educators can center antiracism and abolitionist teaching in garden-based learning to foster a sense of belonging, enhance engagement, deepen learning, and connect with the local community. Antiracist education and abolitionist teaching disrupt the inequalities within the educational system by centering the experiences of students of color, building on their community cultural wealth, and reallocating power and resources. Presenters will share examples of what this looks like in practice.


Healing Arts and Nature to Educate Minds and Heal Hearts
Katherine Cox | Outdoor Educator and Facilitator | Dolphin Healing Arts & Nature, Sequoia’s Treehouse Farm and Forest School

As educators were scrambling to creatively teach students their core subjects through virtual means, it became apparent that more needed to be done to support students’ needs for social interaction, emotional well-being, and resilience. Learn about a new educational program that supports the emotional well-being of children through healing arts and therapeutic horticulture. The presenter will share insights on how to implement modified methods to serve a diverse student population in an outdoor school setting.


Horticulture@Home: Growing Resilience, One Girl at a Time
Dr. Carrie Strohl | Founder | The School Garden Doctor

The Horticulture@Home program provided participants with the tools and materials they needed to nurture a connection with indoor plants, while also restoring critical social connections otherwise severed by social distancing. At a time when social-emotional learning is more important than ever before, this program offered a solution to grow resilience while also introducing girls to careers in horticulture. Horticulture@Home addressed a critical mental health need by furnishing dozens of youth with hope for a brighter future, for themselves, and the world.


Inclusion and Youth in Horticulture
Dr. Derrick Stowell | Education and Horticultural Therapy Program Administrator | University of Tennessee Gardens

Join University of Tennessee Gardens staff as they discuss how to create inclusive programs for youth who have disabilities. This session will explore University of Tennessee Gardens therapeutic horticulture programs that focus on vocational skills development for high school students who have disabilities. Participants will learn about successes and challenges in creating programs for a variety of populations. Learn how your garden and community can benefit by offering valuable job training for diverse groups. This session will teach you programmatic elements needed to make your program a success.


Plant Interaction to Encourage Grounding Techniques for Adolescents
Carmen Ketron | Farm Educator | Medical University of South Carolina
Holly-Ann Turner | Pedriatric Recreational Therapist | Medical University of South Carolina Health

Working with plants has been shown as a way to reduce and manage life stressors, bringing people to the present and providing calming effects.  In this session, the presenters will share a framework and protocol they use with children and adolescents, blending garden interactions with therapeutic techniques to promote grounding, mindfulness, and self-calming strategies when stressed.  They will discuss grounding techniques using the five senses, and walk viewers through an interactive grounding activity using plant materials. Mindfulness strategies can be applied to all populations and settings.

 

Advanced Studies

These sessions demonstrate how to provide pathways for youth to careers in horticulture and related fields.

Cultivating Young Leaders: Digging into Youth-Led Garden-Based Businesses
Lauren Newman | Youth Entrepreneurship Cooperative Manager | City Blossoms
Willa Pohlman | Director of Programming and Trainings | City Blossoms

Join City Blossoms, a DC-based nonprofit that cultivates community through kid-driven garden, to explore youth-led garden-based entrepreneurship. This session will focus on sharing lessons learned from over a decade’s worth of effort, testing, and tweaking our methods of working with young people in the Youth Entrepreneurship Cooperative program. The session will take a look at the building blocks of a youth-led business, the history and significance of the cooperative model, growing a program from scratch, and a youth-led business in practice.


Inclusion and Youth in Horticulture
Dr. Derrick Stowell | Education and Horticultural Therapy Program Administrator | University of Tennessee Gardens

Join University of Tennessee Gardens staff as they discuss how to create inclusive programs for youth who have disabilities. This session will explore University of Tennessee Gardens therapeutic horticulture programs that focus on vocational skills development for high school students who have disabilities. Participants will learn about successes and challenges in creating programs for a variety of populations. Learn how your garden and community can benefit by offering valuable job training for diverse groups. This session will teach you programmatic elements needed to make your program a success.


Reimagining the Internship Experience: How to Grow 21st Century Leaders
Elin Filbey | Director of Programs and Community Engagement | Allen Centennial Garden

Prior to 2018 the Allen Centennial Garden had to beg students to apply for internships. That all changed when the staff decided to reimagine what an internship could and should look like. As a small garden with less than 3 full time staff, it was important that internships increased our bandwidth and impact. Join this session to learn how the Garden successfully shifted internships from task-oriented roles to positions that allowed for creativity and critical thinking and implemented an apprenticeship program further engagement with former interns.

Leadership

These sessions will assist viewers to build a case for youth garden programs, secure funding, get a project off the ground, manage programs, develop metrics/measure ROI, etc.

Cultivating Young Leaders: Digging into Youth-Led Garden-Based Businesses
Lauren Newman | Youth Entrepreneurship Cooperative Manager | City Blossoms
Willa Pohlman | Director of Programming and Trainings | City Blossoms

Join City Blossoms, a DC-based nonprofit that cultivates community through kid-driven garden, to explore youth-led garden-based entrepreneurship. This session will focus on sharing lessons learned from over a decade’s worth of effort, testing, and tweaking our methods of working with young people in the Youth Entrepreneurship Cooperative program. The session will take a look at the building blocks of a youth-led business, the history and significance of the cooperative model, growing a program from scratch, and a youth-led business in practice.


Developing a Junior Master Gardener Program in Florence County
Melanie Glover | Youth Coordinator | Moore Farms Botanical Garden

When developing a new educational program or activity it can be hard to know where to start or if the program will grab enough of a foothold to launch itself from an idea to implementation. Using her experience in developing a Junior Master Gardener program as a model, the presenter will explore the steps of research, development, implementation, and evaluation that can be utilized in any sized project. Participants will also be provided guidance on how to structure one of the most important steps to program development.


Growing Forward with Evaluation
Lee Coykendall | Senior Education Specialist | United States Botanic Garden
Emily Hestness | Education Specialist – Urban Agriculture | United States Botanic Garden
Misty Hertzig | Manager of Youth Programming | Huntsville Botanical Garden
Beth Bacon | Development and Communications Consultant | FRESHFARM FoodPrints

Join your colleagues for a session on ways evaluation can help us adapt and strengthen our programs, help us make difficult decisions, and inform what we do going forward. Participants will learn about the successes and challenges the presenters faced in converting, adapting, and pivoting existing programs to best meet the needs of their audience this past year. Learn how these organizations used evaluation to inform communication with funders, understandings about the best use of resources, and decisions about how and whether to continue or change their newly adapted programs going forward.


Growing Successful and Sustainable School Gardens
Amy Sidran | Farm Education Coordinator | The Hotchkiss School

Sadly, the majority of school gardens begun each year will fail within the first five years. Based on experience and research, the presenter will share the common elements and features of schools with successful long-term school gardens. These specific characteristics enable the garden to become a permanent fixture in the school community and therefore, school culture. Participants will leave with strategies, resources, and tools they can use immediately and in the future to increase the sustainability of all school gardens.


Implementing Farm to School to Support Resilient Schools and Communities
Julie Brewer | Director | USDA Food and Nutrition Service Office of Community Food Systems

Farm to school programs help bring local foods into schools, connect children with where their food comes from, and bring education alive through experiential learning opportunities. The USDA Food and Nutrition Service Office of Community Food Systems (OCFS) supports farm to school by providing grants, training, and technical assistance to improve access to local foods in schools. This session will explore these resources and will feature success stories and resources from various resilient Farm to School grantees that have pivoted their programs during these challenging times.


Mentoring Garden Educators through a Coaching Model
Sara Severance | Education Training Specialist | Life Lab

Do you manage or mentor garden educators and want to find a way to give productive, actionable feedback to improve their practice and make your program stronger? Using a coaching model between mentor and mentee is one of the most effective ways to make improvements in a program.  In this session you will learn how to incorporate a specific format for observing an educator and then engaging in a trusting debrief discussion that leads to action. This session is ideal for leaders who observe educators working with children, however this coaching format can be applied to other work as well.


Reimagining the Internship Experience: How to Grow 21st Century Leaders
Elin Filbey | Director of Programs and Community Engagement | Allen Centennial Garden

Prior to 2018 the Allen Centennial Garden had to beg students to apply for internships. That all changed when the staff decided to reimagine what an internship could and should look like. As a small garden with less than 3 full time staff, it was important that internships increased our bandwidth and impact. Join this session to learn how the Garden successfully shifted internships from task-oriented roles to positions that allowed for creativity and critical thinking and implemented an apprenticeship program further engagement with former interns.