Through the Garden Science program, the Washington Youth Garden (WYG) brings the impact of gardening to kids by reaching them where they are every day—at school.
During 3-5 year intensive partnerships WYG educational staff deliver:
*Science and nutrition classroom lessons to 3rd-5th grade students
By the end of the capacity-building period,
school partners will be fully equipped to independently
utilize and sustain their school garden program.
Schools who graduate as “Alumni Partners” will continue to stay in the WYG network, with strategic support focused on teacher professional development, fundraising and community outreach.
Why are school gardens important?
The District of Columbia is currently combating two child health epidemics—childhood obesity (35.5% of school-age youth in the district were overweight or obese in 2007) (www.ncsl.org) and childhood hunger (37.4% of households with children reported that they were food insecure in 2009-2010) (www.dchunger.org). Additionally, the ongoing focus on standardized testing for math and language arts in today’s schools continues to threaten vital science learning opportunities.
The Washington Youth Garden addresses both of these issues by supporting the development of integrated and sustainable school garden programs at DC’s public and public charter schools.
Students will benefit from enriched science learning opportunities through the garden, shown to improve scores on standardized science tests,. As demonstrated by a 2012 meta-analysis of relevant published literature, hands-on gardening activities improves nutrition by increasing vegetable consumption. Garden programs have also been shown to contribute to social skills development, effective communication and environmental awareness,,.
Why is a WYG partnership necessary?
Our experience over the past decade has demonstrated that without support, most schools are unable to develop and sustain effective school gardening programs, by becoming overly reliant on a single passionate teacher or parent.
WYG prioritizes an investment in building a broad base of involvement, thereby establishing sustainable school garden programs that last beyond our 3-5 year intensive partnership period.
WYG has over 40 years of experience with garden-based education and over 10 years of experience partnering with local schools. Most recently, WYG’s partnerships with Burroughs Education Campus and Bethune Day Academy PCS have provided direct evidence that strong investment in program development and capacity-building pays off:
· Bethune Day Academy has a regularly meeting School Garden Team and the administration has assumed responsibility for funding a 20 hour/week School Garden Coordinator to manage the garden and teach lessons at the school. In 2013, the school took ownership over its own grant process and was awarded funding to expand their garden site.
· Amidst layoffs and budgetary challenges, Burroughs Education Campus committed $2,000 of their allotted professional development funds to be used towards involving more teachers in the school garden program. The STEM coordinator is dedicated to finding additional funding to install a cooking classroom to further integrate nutrition education into their curriculum.
 Klemmer, C. D., T. M. Waliczek, and J. M. Zajicek. 2005. Growing minds: The effect of a school gardening program on the science achievement of elementary students. HortTechnology. 15(3):448-452.
 Smith, L. L., and C. E. Motsenbocker. 2005. Impact of hands-on science through school gardening in Louisiana public elementary schools. HortTechnology. 15(3):439-443.
 Langellotto G. A. and Gupta A. 2012. Gardening Increases Vegetable Consumption in School-aged Children: A Meta-analytical Synthesis. HortTechnology. 22(4):430-445.
 DeMarco, L., P. D. Relf, and A. McDaniel. 1999. Integrating gardening into the elementary school curriculum. HortTechnology. 9(2):276-281.
 Miller, D. L. The Seeds of Learning: Young Children Develop Important Skills Through Their Gardening Activities at a Midwestern Early Education Program.Applied Environmental Education & Communication. 6(1):49-66.
 Skelly, S. M., and J. M. Zajicek. 1998. The effect of an interdisciplinary garden program on the environmental attitudes of elementary school students. HortTechnology 8(4):579- 583.
Visit our blog to learn more about Washington Youth Garden programs.
The Washington Youth Garden is currently seeking highly qualified applicants with non-profit management and fundraising experience for the Washington Youth Garden Director position.
For a full description of responsibilities, qualifications and application process, please see our post on Idealist.