Info gathered by Diana Dove from a combination of experience and research from these websites:
- Milberger’s Landscaping & Nursery – www.milbergernursery.com
- Bright Horizons – www.brighthorizons.com
A garden is an outdoor classroom. Be the teacher that leads a child to a garden. Here are reasons to engage children and teens in gardening: Gardening is a fun way to learn and explore the world around you. When engaged in hands-on learning, children remember and learn through their experience. They ask questions to understand what they see first hand, then learn how things are connected.
Gardening with children brings families and people together. Spending quality time together, and doing something fun builds bonds among those working together, making new friends. Youth leaders emerge. Children experience pride in their results of teamwork as garden tasks are accomplished and various garden activities are carried out.
Stewardship, and caring for something that grows helps kids care more about people and other living things around them. Children learn to respect the environment and understand cycles in nature leading to sound conservation practices and environmental protection.
Gardening with children, teaches so many things. Outdoor safety is practiced and children experience how to carry and use tools. Kids learn to like science and art and exploring outdoors! When gardening, children become engaged in hands-on learning in science fields: botany, soils, biology, chemistry, entomology, ornithology, dendrology, etc. and for those who are interested, they can expand into photography, art, creative writing, journals, and more. They learn to identify, classify, and use observation skills and notice the beauty and details in nature. They might learn bird calls and insect sounds and learn about wildlife. Kids learn how to behave around insects and other wildlife that may visit a garden. Children become engaged in cross-curricular activities and many areas of interest.
If kids grow vegetables and eat their own vegetables, they eat healthier and become very proud of themselves. They learn about different kinds of vegetables and parts of plants. Some kids may learn to cook vegetables and try a food that is new to them. Garden activities help kids learn skills. They practice following directions.
Gardening is a good physical exercise outdoors, involving motor skills, coordination, and balance. It’s healthy to spend time outdoors and move your body. Children learn patience and trust and the importance of doing things right the first time. When caring for a garden, children learn responsibility about participating in planned activities. Kids learn about volunteerism and feel pride about giving back to their community.
For teens, there is an opportunity to earn Community Service hours volunteering in community gardens required for National Honor Society, or Scouts, or to include on a resume for a scholarship or college admission application. Some teens may use their gardening community service as job experience and a stepping stone to a job on a college campus caring for a college student garden or for a garden related job elsewhere. Reach out to a young child or a teen. Be the reason they discover gardening. They may teach others and carry what they learn, for a lifetime.
Diana Dove volunteers as the GCNJ Youth Consultant for Environmental Education. If you have Youth Garden resources, tips, to share, please contact Diana directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Diana is a professional, award-winning, environmental educator who has taught children of all ages since June 1975. She has a BS degree from Va. Tech in Forestry & Wildlife with a Concentration in Biology, and a BA in Communications specializing in television and photography. In an effort to encourage outdoor based learning in her children’s local school system, in 1996, Diana spearheaded the PTO committee that developed the Karen Nash Memorial Butterfly Garden and later led the Garden’s newly established Executive Board to establish the garden as its own 501-c-3 not-for-profit organization. Diana founded the original Youth Garden Club at Memorial School in June 1997 to function as stewards of the quarter-acre pollinator garden; a garden certified by the USDA as a wildlife habitat garden and designated by the North American Butterfly Association as a Certified Butterfly Garden. This garden is winner of the National Gardening Association Youth Garden Award and is a recent National Plant America Winner. Memorial School’s Youth Gardeners have been selected as a Top Youth Garden Club several times in NJ and through the CAR, several times over the past 24 years. Diana has continued to volunteer with youth gardeners and families and has been a presenter and exhibitor specializing in Gardening with Children. She works fulltime as Co-Owner of Dove Environmental Education and has received Educational Awards from New Jersey Clean Communities awards recognizing her environmental conservation programs for all ages; often Co-teaching with her husband, Mike.
Diana has been highly recognized by the Alliance for NJ Environmental Education as “Environmental Educator of the Year” and in recent years was selected by ANJEE as the “Patricia F. Kane Lifetime Achievement Award” recipient. Please “like” the Facebook page for the “Karen Nash Memorial Butterfly Garden.” There you will find seasonal photos of the garden and youth in action.