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3501 New York Ave NE
Washington, DC, 20002
United States


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Skills for the Future with Washington Youth Garden

Crystal Williams

Posted on July 14, 2017 by Catalogue for Philanthropy

by Crystal Williams, Communications and Events Manager, Washington Youth Garden

Washington Youth Garden (WYG) is a program of Friends of the National Arboretum (FONA) on the grounds of the US National Arboretum and uses the garden cycle to enrich science learning, inspire environmental stewardship and cultivate healthy food choices in youth and families. WYG has three subprograms within the organization; SPROUT (Science Program Reaching Out) – field trip program, Green Ambassador Program- high school internship program, and Garden Science – school garden development program.

In 2016, 3,140 students visited the garden on nearly 100 SPROUT trips while 90% of SPROUT participants tasted something new from the garden.

This year from April through June, we’ve already served 2,500 students through our SPROUT program and 15 new high school Green Ambassadors joined us for the busy summer ahead!

Gardening and carpentry skills are not the only thing our students gain in the garden, as illustrated by the following quote:

“The Green Ambassador Program] gave me a lot of skills for future jobs and helped me grow as a person as well. A lot of my peers come from very different backgrounds, so it gave me a lot of new perspectives.”
                                                -DeWayne Walker, Green Ambassador Program 2016

This year we celebrate our new education pavilion. The new pavilion at Washington Youth Garden’s demonstration garden is the result of a partnership between the Weissberg Foundation, local businesses, and nonprofit organizations working together to benefit school groups and families from underserved D.C. neighborhoods and other communities in the region. The pavilion is dedicated to the late Judith Morris, who was passionate about sharing nature and the Arboretum with surrounding communities and underserved youth. The pavilion provides a much-needed outdoor classroom space for young people coming to our demonstration plot to learn about environmental science and nutrition.

We encourage the community to be a part of Washington Youth Garden by either attending an event such as Family Garden Day on August 12th or volunteering with us. Volunteer as an individual or bring a group. Individuals should sign-up for an orientation here. Volunteering as a group with Washington Youth Garden is a fun and active outdoor experience that is sure to build staff cohesion outside the office. 

Meet Erin! 10 Questions with WYG's 2017 Green Ambassador Crew Leader

Crystal Williams

By: Caroline Fitzgerald

Get to know a little bit about one of our amazing Green Ambassador Crew Leaders, Erin! As a past participant of the program, she is a seasoned alum who helped lead our incoming interns this summer.  

  1. How old are you? Where do you go to school?
    • I’m 19 years old, I went to Yorktown High School in Arlington VA and I now go to William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.
  2. How long have you been involved with Washington Youth Garden?
    • 2 years
  3. How has the Green Ambassadors program influenced your everyday life?
    • It causes me to think about gardening more often and causes her to appreciate gardening.
  4. What is one important thing that working here has taught you?
    •  Communication and organization are key. Without these two things work doesn’t get done. 
  5. What is your favorite thing about this program?
    • The people and the environment. Green Ambassadors used to have something called teach it where the ambassadors would split into build it/ teach it groups.
  6. Is there anything that you think could be changed about this program?
    • No
  7. What have you learned here that you think will benefit you in the future?
    • I gained people skills which helped me with things like public speaking and day to day communication
  8. Do you have a favorite memory from your time spent in this program?
    • I once did a small art project which I enjoyed very much. The art project included painting blocks. I also really liked helping with the children’s playground.
  9. Do you have a favorite part of the youth garden, or a favorite area that you like to work in?
    • I love working in the sensory garden
  10. Do you want to continue working in gardens/with nature and the environment after you leave this program?
    •  Maybe not in a garden but definitely the environmental field. There are so many paths to take and so many programs to be a part of. I might  an environmental policy minor at William and Mary.


Guest Spotlight: Get the Best Out of Nature: Homegrown Celery for Juicing

Crystal Williams

By: Jackie Edwards

Producing home-grown vegetables gives you access to the most nutritious and free produce available. Besides being able to feed your family fresh and tasty salads, another pro of having vegetables in your garden is that you are able to make healthy homemade juices that do wonders for your and your children's health.

One of the most nutritious plants that you can grow in your garden is celery. This long green stem of a vegetable might be the type of food your children want to avoid at all costs, but it is definitely the kind of plant from which you can make a fresh, health-boosting juice, that your kids might actually find enjoyable.

Celery Juice Fights Inflammation

Children are naturally more susceptible to flu or colds that are often accompanied by inflammation. Celery carries some of the strongest anti-inflammatory agents that can help protect your child's immune system, or assists them in recuperating from a long cold. 

In grown-ups, on the other hand, inflammations can be the culprit behind various ailments such as fatigue, and even depression. Inflammations also got the nickname of “silent killers”, because they easily go unnoticed and cause serious health damage in the long run. The two most potent compounds in celery are called luteolin and polyacetylenes, which directly affect various inflammations in one’s system.

Celery Juice Aids Recovery and Growth

Most children (and some parents) are extremely active, which means they will spend hours upon hours running, climbing, jumping, etc. After a long, active day the body needs rest and something to help it replenish. Celery juice is the perfect drink for this, as it is packed with helpful antioxidants, which play a crucial role in rehydration and replenishment of important electrolytes like sodium and potassium.

Additionally, due to its replenishing properties, celery juice ensures restful sleep and the absence of painful cramps. Another mineral found in celery that contributes to muscle relaxation and a good night’s sleep is magnesium, which is vital for healthy growth. This means that a glass of celery juice will help your child maintain a healthy Mg2+ level and contribute to his/her normal development.

Having an edible garden and preparing refreshing, nutritious juices out of home-grown vegetables such as celery is one of the healthiest choices parents can make. Not only will this save you tons of money, but it will ensure that your family is getting the best nature has to offer.