NCYGS 2021
Live General Sessions


The American Horticultural Society presented the following general sessions, July 7-9, at NCYGS 2021!

Recordings of these sessions (plus prerecorded sessions) will be available until June 30, 2022. Registration will remain open to view session recordings.

Attendees, check here for guidelines for accessing live (and prerecorded) sessions.

Young people today are more connected and aware than ever before and many have a sincere desire to combat social and environmental issues. Furthermore, they have ideas about solving these problems, but are rarely asked for their input. Through the NCYGS 2021live general sessions, the speakers will give educators both the inspiration and the tools they need to discover and nurture the passion within a child and create the space and support for a child to pursue that passion.

Wednesday, July 7, 1:00pm (EDT)

How to be a youth leadership ally

Youth environmental and climate activists are not just a moment. They are a movement. Adults, join us for an interactive session discussing how to develop meaningful youth-adult partnerships. Learn how youth can be more than just students of environmental education programming, but also they can be leaders, designers, judges, and more. However, to do that, they’ll need adults who are ready to hear their ideas and support them. To that end, we’ll practice active listening, giving feedback, and how to be supportive.

Charles Orgbon IIIAt the age of 11, Charles Orgbon III developed Greening Forward which mobilized thousands of students in the United States to take action on environmental issues. Charles’ accomplishments in the non-profit space include completing an Arctic Science Expedition which has helped inform his role as an informal environmental educator, integrating his award-winning blueprint for youth environmental leadership into Chilean and Colombian school systems, and helping the Obama Administration’s White House Office of Science & Technology Policy develop a youth engagement strategy. At the University of Georgia, Charles studied Environmental Economics & Management, focusing on the intersection of business and science. While studying at The University of Georgia, Charles created a memorable legacy by organizing several university-wide diversity initiatives. Leveraging his broad experience in corporate social responsibility, sustainability, youth leadership and engagement, and diversity initiatives, Charles also served as a strategy consultant for numerous government agencies, foundations, and non-profits. Charles’ leadership is validated by over 31 local, national, and international awards, five book mentions, and over 100 speaking engagements since 2010.

Wednesday, July 7 at 3:00pm (EDT)

Live Q&A via Zoom for the following Educational Sessions

  • Centering Antiracism and Abolitionist Teaching in Garden-Based Learning
  • Growing Successful and Sustainable School Gardens
  • Reimagining the Internship Experience: How to Grow 21st Century Leaders
  • School Gardening throughout the Seasons: Indoor and Outdoor, September – May
  • Virtual Programming from the 4-H Children’s Gardens: Wonderkits
  • Wisconsin School Garden Day: Community Organizing for Garden Education

Wednesday, July 7 at 3:30pm (EDT)

Live Q&A via Zoom for the following Educational Sessions

  • Farm to Early Care and Education: Growing Healthy Habits
  • The Global Grocery Bag
  • Growing a Vibrant Youth Gardening Community
  • Using ECE Philosophies to Design Garden Curriculum for Multi-age Programs
  • Youth Perspectives: Effective Collaborations for Student Learning, Leadership, and Advocacy

Wednesday, July 7, 4:00pm (EDT)

School Garden Supporters Unite!

School Garden Support OrgAs a part of the National Children and Youth Garden Symposium, join School Garden practitioners from across the nation for a networking event.  We will share newly created resources from the School Garden Support Organization Network and have opportunities for peer to peer conversations on school garden topics. A more detailed agenda will be shared closer to the event.

You do not need to be a registered attendee of the Garden Symposium to attend this networking event hosted by the School Garden Support Organization Network.

Learn more and register here.

Thursday, July 8, 1:00pm (eastern)

Megan ChenWhat can a seasoned veteran of gardening for the greater good and a young rising star in the field learn from each other? Tune in for a conversation about community gardening, food security, and green activism that models the two-way street of mentorship where both parties are experts in their own right with a strong commitment to working together to elevate the entire field.

Megan Chen, age 18, is the Founder and Executive Director at The Urban Garden Initiative, an international 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that focuses on environmental sustainability and gardening education. TUGI has worked with thousands of students around the world, encouraging them to become environmental changemakers and activists within their own community in addition to building the skills necessary to create their own sustainable food systems. Through her work with The Urban Garden Initiative, she has been featured by PBS, Ashoka Young Changemakers, Delaware Today, TEDx, and more. She is a Daily Point of Light Award Recipient, HERLead Fellow 2020, and Our Planet: Our Purpose STEM for Changemaking Award Winner. Megan hopes to pursue a field in urban studies and public policy to continue to help serve her community every day. She is also the author of the children’s book Finding Tiger that addresses the issues of implicit bias and stereotyping. She also currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Delaware Sierra Club and the National Board for Griptape, which supports youth-guided learning initiatives all across the country.

Sheryll DurrantSheryll Durrant is an urban farmer, educator, and food justice advocate. She has been the Resident Garden Manager at Kelly Street Garden since 2016, and is also the Food and Nutrition Coordinator for New Roots Community Farm, managed by International Rescue Committee (IRC). Her work has included developing community-based urban agriculture projects, providing expertise and technical assistance for gardens within supportive housing developments, and she currently serves as Board President for Just Food. Sheryll has led workshops and spoken on issues related to urban agriculture and food justice for many key organizations, and was part of the 2019-2020 HEAL School of Political Leadership cohort. As a former Design Trust fellow for the Farming Concrete project, she is now responsible for communications and outreach for the data collection platform that helps urban farmers and gardeners measure their impact. Prior to her work in urban agriculture, Sheryll spent over 20 years in corporate and institutional marketing.

Thursday, July 8 at 3:00pm (EDT)

Live Q&A via Zoom for the following Educational Sessions

  • Designing with Nature at the Dallas Arboretum’s Children’s Adventure Garden
  • Fourth Grade Science, Sustainability, and Service Learning in COmmunity Gardens
  • Growing Forward with Evaluation
  • Horticulture @Home: Growing Resilience, One Girl at a Time
  • Implementing Farm to School to SUpport Resilient Schools and Communities
  • Literacy Moves Outdoors: Story Walks, Word Gardens, and Interpretive Signage

Thursday, July 8 at 3:30pm (EDT)

Live Q&A via Zoom for the following Educational Sessions

  • Cultivating Young Leaders: Digging into Youth-Led Garden-Based Businesses
  • Celebrating Diversity in the Garden
  • How to Find Reliable Resources for Teaching Sustainability
  • Inclusion and Youth in Horticulture
  • Stations and Rotations for Garden Care and Classroom Management

Thursday, July 8, 4:00pm (EDT)

Nature Journaling for Educators
This is your brain on paper: the art and science of keeping a nature journal

Open the door to rich discovery, better memory, and more fun in nature. What if you could change one simple thing and make yourself a more astute observer, curious explorer, creative thinker, deliberate investigator, and better naturalist? You can: it is keeping a notebook to record your discoveries and questions and to help you plan and document your investigations.John Muir Laws

A journal is a ubiquitous part of a naturalist’s gear, more important than binoculars or a microscope. No tool has a more profound effect on your ability to see and think. It is much more than a sketchbook. It is a place to map out your observations and inquiry process as you document, explore, or reflect. There are many ways you can use a journal: you can draw, diagram, map, model, list, and write. Each approach changes the way you see and think. A new approach is a new lens on the world. Strategically combining these methods virtually guarantees new discoveries and will delight your mind. If you have never used a nature journal before, you will learn simple techniques that you can apply immediately with no drawing experience required. If you already keep a notebook of your discoveries, learn ways to expand the scope of your practice, and open new doors to discovering the world. You will leave with a rich kit of tools to focus your observations, organize your thoughts, enhance recall of critical details, stimulate creativity, and expand the possibilities for your adventures and discoveries.

John (Jack) Muir Laws is a scientist, educator, and author, who helps people forge a deeper and more personal connection with nature through keeping illustrated nature journals and understanding science. His work intersects science, art, and mindfulness. Trained as a wildlife biologist and an associate of the California Academy of Sciences, he observes the world with rigorous attention. He looks for mysteries, plays with ideas, and seeks connections in all he sees. Attention, observation, curiosity, and creative thinking are not gifts, but skills that grow with training and deliberate practice. As an educator and author, Jack teaches techniques and supports routines that develop these skills to make them a part of everyday life.

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

Hooked on plants: Student perspectives on great garden education

Seed Your Future logoPart of developing professionally as an educator or program manager is seeking feedback from your audience and learning from it. Many of us serve K-12 students, but do we ever talk with students to learn how they feel about what we’re teaching? Join us for a discussion about K-12 garden- or plant-based education centered on the voices of those who participated in school garden, 4-H, or other programs. Panel participants, college students who are studying in a horticulture related field, will be invited to share their feedback on K-12 programs and what inspired them to pursue a career working with plants. Participant input could help current educators strengthen their programs by learning what makes for truly engaging and inspiring curriculum and connections.

Seed Your Future is the movement to promote horticulture and inspire people to pursue careers working with plants. It envisions a world where everyone understands and values the importance of plants and the people who work in the art, science, technology and business of horticulture.  

Jessica Turner-SkoffPanelists include:

  • Kaylene Argot, Professional Horticulture Student at Longwood Gardens and independent garden contractor
  • Hsuan Chen, Ph.D, Assistant Professor of Ornamental Plant / Hemp Breeding and Cytogenetics at North Carolina State University
  • Josie Walker, Garden Manager and Coordinator at New Hope Community Garden in Pollocksville, North Carolina and North Carolina Community Garden Partners Advisory Board Member
  • Nathan Stewart, former Perennial Plant Buyer/Manager at Gateway Garden Center in Hockessin, Delaware and co-founder of Root Out Racism
  • Abby Kulpa, Sales Marketing Coordinator at Cypress Village in Jacksonville, Florida and former board member of the National Junior Horticultural Foundation

This session will be moderated by Dr. Jessica Turner-Skoff, treeologist at the Morton Arboretum and recipient of the American Horticultural Society’s 2020 Emerging Horticultural Professional Award.