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From BG to DC: The Journey of a Summer Intern

April Martin

“This is a fantasy land!”

“I’m never leaving here.”

“I wish I could go to school here.”

                Last Tuesday and Wednesday I got the opportunity to tag along with DC Kipp Lead Academy’s SPROUT field trips in the garden. These are just a few of the phrases I over-heard that made me smile. The field trips consisted of much more than I imagined. When the students arrived they were divided into three groups. As each group was guided through the garden, I got to see first-hand just how great of an impact the Washington Youth Garden can have on the kids that visit. The kids got to pick and taste their own produce such as sweet peas, sorrel, and celery. The kids got to touch plants in the sensory garden, such as lambs ear. They got to smell mint leaves—and use some to brush their teeth. They got their hands dirty, learned to aerate soil, and planted seeds. They even learned about the interworking of bee hives and the process of decomposition. The activities helped to open the kids’ eyes to the wonders of nature and growing healthy, organic food.  As I watched the trips, I could not help but want to join in on the fun. I could not resist picking my own strawberry to taste and bending down to feel lambs ear as well.

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          The Washington Youth Garden is filled with new opportunities to learn, not only for the children that come on field trips but for the volunteers and staff as well. Throughout my first week here as a communications and marketing intern, I have gained a new understanding of gardening and about the work that goes into running a successful organization with valuable programs. I can’t imagine what I will learn by the end summer! 

          I am a student at Western Kentucky University where I study biology and Spanish. When I journeyed to Washington, D.C. from Bowling Green(BG), Kentucky I had no idea what adventures would be in store for me, such as my first metro ride…and getting lost downtown. I applied to an internship program here in order to gain real world experience. This summer I did not want just another odd job to pass the time. I wanted to do something that would help me grow professionally, as well as personally. I have found the National Arboretum to be a calming nature oasis amidst the busy city life. In that oasis lies the youth garden where I get to experience the behind the scenes world of a nonprofit. During my time here, one of my jobs will be assisting with the promotion of the Washington Youth Garden’s events and programs—so be on the lookout for Facebook posts and tweets!

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                One of my favorite experiences so far has been working in the garden with volunteers. I was able to get to know some of the people who help to make the garden beautiful and functional for the kids and families who come to experience it. Every person varied in the time that they have spent volunteering with The Washington Youth Garden, from a couple months to 14 years. Everyone also had different levels of gardening experience. For example, two of the volunteers were working towards becoming master gardeners!  Moreover, volunteers were from different home towns and had different jobs. What I loved was that every unique volunteer was brought together by a common devotion for gardening and making a difference.

                Contact me at communication@fona.org! Also, like The Washington Youth Garden on Facebook and follow the Washington Youth Garden on twitter (@washyouthgarden) and instagram (@WashYouthGarden) to keep up with what is going on here at the garden.

– Kelly Del Grosso