Meet Patrick (Pat) Ryan, a new guest blogger! He is the Education Specialist for the Alaska Botanical Garden in Anchorage, Alaska. Ryan took the Junior Master Gardener Specialist training in College Station is 2003, and started the JMG program for their Garden in 2004. The officially passed the 10-year mark of their program in Alaska! Their designated JMG Plot had a dramatic makeover this past summer that will match the improvements in the rest of the Garden. They are really excited about what lies in store ahead as a result! His goal with the program is to have the students learn to identify the native trees, shrubs, wildflowers etc. in the forest, and to grow some food that can be donated to the Children’s Lunchbox program. Not only will they participate in several gardening projects for the students to take home, but the students will also help out at the Alaska Botanical Garden (ABG). This insures learning about real gardening tasks that in turn, can ultimately help out at home.
The Alaska Botanical Garden (ABG) in partnership with the Anchorage School District’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers program (21st CCLC) has taken a new approach to gardening with youth. With snow falling outside and temperatures dropping below zero, over 300 youth in four 21st CCLC after-school programs were planting seeds, watering and tasting fresh vegetables and herbs during the 2013-2014 school year.
The 21st CCLC program serves Title 1 schools in the Anchorage area, providing engaging academic, cultural and recreational activities for students and families outside of regular school hours. ABG has partnered with four 21st CCLC programs – Fairview Elementary, North Star Elementary, Begich Middle, and the Alaska Native Cultural Charter School. For the 2014-2015 school year, an four additional schools were funded for this program – Ptarmigan Elementary, Nunaka Valley Elementary, Wonder Park Elementary, and Muldoon Elementary. These schools are in Anchorage’s lowest-income neighborhoods—areas with high poverty and few affordable after-school alternatives. They also serve high proportions of English Language Learner (ELL), immigrant, homeless, and Alaska Native families. The 2013-2014 school year was the beginning of a five year partnership to engage students in experiential science activities by allowing youth involved in 21st CCLC to grow greens and herbs using organic indoor growing systems. With the these additional schools, this gardening program is expanding to eight schools with over 600 youth actively growing their own food and learning about plant growth and development, cycles, cooking and Alaskan Grown foods. Additionally, ABG only uses safe, organic control methods. This also applies to products students use, like insect repellant. They are always looking for more safe and effective products.
For more information, check out the Alaska Botanical Garden website and warm greetings to Pat Ryan!