Let’s Dig In!
School Nutrition Director and School Garden Creator
Building and sustaining a school garden using the school nutrition department as a funding source as well as nutrition education for elementary students. Step by step process about how to start small and use the resources available to achieve a successful growing school garden.
Susan LeBlanc is the School Nutrition Director and School Garden Creator – teaching young children healthy nutrition habits using hands-on projects, individual outdoor planting and harvesting, and tasting new foods and harvested vegetables from the garden.
This session will cover the IDEA Public Schools Farm Program model, which utilizes the Junior Master Gardener curriculum as one of its cornerstone programs. To date, the Farm Program has certified 563 Junior Master Gardeners, and we are expecting to certify 600 more in the 19-20 school year from the five school farms. We do this while simultaneously growing 17,000 pounds of produce for 10 school cafeterias in the Rio Grande Valley and San Antonio. Our mission is to continue launching one new farm every year in a region that IDEA Public Schools has a presence in.
Hernan Colmenero, a Rio Grande Valley native, completed his double B.A. in Art Education & Philosophy. He taught middle school International Baccalaureate Visual Arts at McAllen ISD, where he and a team developed the district’s 6th-8th grade curriculum and shortly thereafter, he embarked on a tour of Cuban sustainable agriculture and food systems with Food First. For five years now, he’s worked with IDEA Public Schools Farm Program to increase healthy food access and remind students where food comes from. Most recently, he created a Food Systems course for grades 11-12 and is launching a new farm every year.
Building to Last: Creating a Sustainable School Garden Program
Nan Wilson & Denise Walker, Monday, February 24
Young Gardeners Program Director; Young Gardeners Program Curriculum Coordinator.
We have developed a sustainable after-school program called the Young Gardeners Program that improves the health of our school children and their families by teaching them to grow and prepare their own food. Our gardens are designed to produce enough food so that each child can take home an average of one pound/week. We started in 2017 in one school and now operate in four locations. We will describe the unique infrastructure, community partnerships, buildings specs, lessons we’ve learned in building a school garden program built to last.
Nan Wilson has been a gardener in some way all her life. She’s been down a few career paths, currently owns a small business, and has been volunteering in school and community gardens for at least 20 years. She created the Young Gardeners Program in 2017, out of her desire to transform the health of Galveston Island. Denise Walker is the YGP Curriculum Coordinator. Denise is a career educator who served as a principal at a special needs school in the Houston, TX area before she came to the Young Gardeners Program.
The University of Nevada Cooperative Extension-Youth Horticulture Education Program (YHEP) has transformed the social horticulture experience for youth with a four corner approach. Junior Master Gardener (JMG) is the ideal curriculum for plant science education and utilized heavily by YHEP. One of the most appealing aspects of the Junior Master Gardener Curriculum is its emphasis on plant science. A discussion about food sustainability is not complete without including plant science or information about how plant science contributes to nutrition and community engagement. YHEP proudly delivers community-based education utilizing JMG to promote a sustainable model for garden-based learning.
Tricia proudly manages the Youth Horticulture Education Program YHEP) at the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. She holds a Master’s degree in Urban Leadership Development and certification in Social Behavioral Research Investigators and Key Personnel Group to conduct human subjects’ research approved by the University’s Institutional Review Board. She has designed YHEP to address the ecological model for youth programming by focusing on community-based instruction with a four corner approach. Tricia has vast career experience providing youth-centered programming to youth in New York City and Las Vegas. She proudly delivers the Junior Master Gardener project with her amazing team of knowledgeable horticulturalists.
This presentation will describe how the Leon County Master Gardeners have incorporated the JMG curriculum into three of the five local school districts. Master Gardener volunteers go into the classroom on a weekly basis to assist the classroom teacher in teaching science concepts related to science and horticulture. This workshop will also focus on how to get your foot in the school door and develop relationships with teachers and school officials to get a JMG program started in the schools. This includes showcasing the quality of the JMG materials and how they relate to the state education requirements for the schools. The Leon County program also includes a hands-on component by incorporating school gardens as part of the learning environment.
Greg Pitts has been a Leon County Master Gardener since 2008 and has actively worked with JMG programs since that time. During that time, he has worked with over 1,000 students in the classroom. He works with science teachers to present JMG programs to the students. He primarily works with elementary and junior high students. He is currently working on adjusting the JMG curriculum to meet the needs of elementary special needs students. He is also a Texas Master Naturalist.
Near-peer mentoring is an effective way to increase youth participation in JMG programming. This methodology provides for learning at both the Youth Mentor and Participant levels , and provides effective role models that younger participants naturally look up to. This session will provide statistical justification for near-peer mentoring, Near-Peer mentor recruitment and training strategies, and appropriate JMG activities for near-peer mentoring. Ideas for cross-curricular implementation will also be provided, including integration of state education standards for after-school programming.
Deborah Ivie received her M.S. from Brigham Young University in Family Life Education with an emphasis in Human Development and Early Childhood Education certification. One of her areas of specialty is Service Learning programming, including community gardening efforts. She currently serves as Utah State University Extension Youth Programs/4-H Faculty and STEM Program Leader. She is the state JMG coordinator. She resides in Salt Lake County. She is the mother of seven children, and enjoys reading, trips to the mountains and playing guitar in her spare time. Morgan Hoffman will be co-presenting with Deborah. Morgan graduated from Cornell College in archaeology and classical studies. She previously worked at the Seminary Ridge Museum in Gettysburg as an education coordinator. Morgan began work at Thanksgiving Point Institute as an education coordinator, running adult and horticulture programming. She now serves as the community experiences manager, overseeing multiple 4-H programs, including Junior Master Gardener and the Thanksgiving Point Makerspace, along with event, family, and adult programming. Morgan will implement grant programming at the Thanksgiving Point site and will help develop the teen leader mentorship program.
The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service-Bexar County Youth Gardens Program strives to create an environment that brings together the community to educate urban youth about horticulture, staying healthy, and developing interpersonal skills. We use Texas A&M University research based horticulture practices to grow our youth gardens and maintain partnerships and volunteers to help support our youth education programs. This presentation will teach the participants how to manage a youth garden program through volunteer support, media recognition, grant management, and building partnerships in the community. Come hear how to avoid common mistakes in programming and how you can take your garden from “just ok” to a beautiful and bountiful success.
Ruby Zavala has served as the Youth Gardens Coordinator for Texas A&M AgirLife Extension Service since the summer of 2014, and her dedication and contributions to the JMG Program and Bexar County Youth Gardens Program have made a vast positive impact on the lives of the urban youth of Bexar County. She was certified as a JMG leader in the summer of 2014 and has since then facilitated and coordinated many trainings, youth camps, and JMG and LGEG programs. She partners with local agencies and has raised over $200,000 to support the education of youth in Horticulture.
In 2016, the City of Perris developed a community demonstration garden, Perris Green City Farm, to improve health outcomes by expanding health equity through urban farming and creation of platforms to promote healthy behaviors in the community. This community garden led to the development of the Grow Perris Initiative, with the goal to develop 31 community gardens within a 0.5-mile radius to address food insecurity and increase accessibility and affordability of healthy foods to under-served communities. Through collaborative efforts with public-private entities, faith-based organizations and local school districts, Grow Perris has cultivated a unique community in Perris that has supported efforts to create and sustain a healthy and thriving community through the establishment of garden sites and farms.
Crystal Lopez, MPH, serves as the Public Health Supervisor for the City of Perris where she oversees the implementation of citywide public health initiatives. Under the Public Health division, alongside her team, she has supported and implemented the Grow Perris initiative and Live Well Perris initiatives, to improve health outcomes by expanding healthy equity through urban farming, implementation of policy, systems and environmental changes, and initiatives that support active transportation, mental health and increased physical activity. Ms. Lopez received her Master of Public Health from the University of Southern California and Bachelor of Science in Public Health from the University of Arizona. She has passionately served the public health field for 12 years with the goal to develop and foster healthy and thriving communities locally and regionally.
When working in a variety of settings in your community, have you ever learned lessons the hard way, by making mistakes you had no idea you were making? Developing working relationships with community partners is hard work, and requires time and patience. Successful partnerships will bring benefits to each group participating. How do you get started? Listening. Asking questions. Mutual respect. Empowerment engagement is a method utilized in community development to help establish solid working relationships from the start of partnerships. In this session you will have a chance to learn about and practice empowerment engagement with your colleagues in a short demo. Strong partnerships make great JMG groups, and can help overcome some of the obstacles associated with maintenance, start up, and sustainability of your program.
Dr. Kathryn Orvis is a faculty member in the Department of Agricultural Sciences Education and Communication and the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at Purdue University. Dr. Orvis is a learning scientist who focuses on all aspects of teaching and assessing STEM learning in the context of plant science, with a focus on digital education, experiential methods and integrated evaluation and assessment of STEM learning in informal and formal programs.
Anne Carlsen Center, Jamestown, ND is a non profit organization that provides residential and educational services to students with significant barriers to learning including autism and intellectual disabilities, behavioral health needs and students with medically complex needs. The garden program at Anne Carleon Center has been an integral piece of the educational component for many years. Creating accessible and individualized learning opportunities in the garden can be challenging with individuals of varying abilities. This session will provide resources and teaching strategies to support students with such unique needs and provide ideas for lesson planning in the core content areas of Math, English Language Arts, Social Studies and Science. Through the use of assistive technology, creative lesson planning, visual supports, adaptive tools, accessible planting tables and garden beds, all students can be successful and fully able to participate and learn in any garden program.
Caryn J Claflin is a Special Education Teacher at the Anne Carlsen Center in Jamestown ND. She is the program coordinator for the Jr Master Gardener program of which the Anne Carlsen Center in Jamestown ND has been the recipient for the past two years. Caryn is a 38 year veteran in the field of special education, having served in a variety of positions from classroom teacher, consultant, and training special education teachers on the implementation of systems change grants through the Department of Public Instruction in ND.
Growing U, a program funded by Children Youth and Families at risk grant, addresses reducing childhood obesity, increasing vegetable consumption and improving children’s fitness and weight. The program combines interdisciplinary programs such as the Junior Master Gardener program, Learn, Grow, Eat & Go! Curriculum, and Walk Across Texas. Sullivan Elementary in Cameron County currently implements the Growing U program through the leadership of their afterschool teacher Flor Cuevas and coordination of 1890 4-H Agent Guadalupe Castro. This session will demonstrate how the school has used family night events to incorporate the whole family in the students Growing U program. Family nights have made the program in the school successful and has been a great way to involve both the families and the student’s culture into their learning. During family nights students teach their families what they are learning through stations, which develops their leadership skills as a young age.
Guadalupe Castro is a 4-H and Youth Development agent in Cameron county through Prairie View A&M 1890 Cooperative Extension Program. She earned her Bachelors degree in Music Education from Texas State University and her Masters in Public Administration from the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley. Flor Cuevas is a teacher in Sullivan Elementary in San Benito Texas. She started the afterschool garden program with a $700 grant from the LGEG program. She has expanded the program with the involvement of the Growing U program to include JMG and Walk Across Texas.
Learn the reality of piloting the Learn, Grow, Eat & Go program as garden educator, Mrs. Snacky, takes you week by week through her pilot program. Share the joys, catastrophes, and triumphs as she searches for the right classroom for the pilot, sells the idea to the classroom teacher, implements the program and disseminates the results. Experience the student’s reactions to learning, planting, tasting, cooking, and getting physical. Gain insight into what it takes to launch this program in a classroom for the very first time.
Karen Saake is the Master Gardener for Sage Garden Project (SGP) and a San Diego County Master Gardener. She supports the garden coordinators at the 50+ SGP Schools and often presents at school garden trainings and conferences. SGP funds garden and nutrition educators in high needs elementary schools throughout California. Karen created the SGP garden curriculum and has worked in many facets of the program. Her students like to call her Mrs. Snacky because she loves to feed them nutritious snacks. She is passionate about hands-on education and being silly.
Cost effective and space saving methods for a hydroponic growing system in a LGEG program. This includes construction of a hoop house using 2x4s and PVC pipe. A floating raft hydroponics and a wicking bucket gutter hydroponics are incorporated. The Menard third grade JMG used these methods in their Learn Grow Eat & Go program to grow produce, later used in the school cafeteria. The students planted the needed seeds using grow lights and heating pads. Then they erected the hoop house in a school courtyard. The floating raft hydroponics system was set up and plants put in place using net cups and pool noodles. Then the wicking buckets and gutter were placed in the hoop house. Water in the gutter was supplied by a rain barrel. Once hydroponic systems were planted, more seeds were started. These were for 2×10 raised beds, a square foot garden, and container gardens.
Mary Kniffen has been the Menard JMG group leader since 2005. Menard Morning Glories were recognized twice as Texas JMG Group of The Year and in 2009 was recognized as National JMG Group of the Year. Mrs. Kniffen was awarded the 2010 Texas JMG Teacher of The Year. She is currently the Menard County 4H Coordinator. Billy Kniffen is a retired extension agent from Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service. He is an advisor to ACU Agriculture & Environmental Science Department. Lisa Brown is the Extension Agent for Agriculture for Menard County. She began with the Menard JMG program in 2006.