Mission and Goals
Using the garden cycle as a tool, the mission of the Washington Youth Garden at the U.S. National Arboretum (WYG) is to inspire children and families to engage in self-discovery, explore relationships with food and the natural world, and contribute to the health and well-being of their communities.
The primary goals of our programs are to: a) educate youth and families about the relationship between food, its origins, nutrition, and health; b) connect children (and adults) to the natural world as a place of wonder, exploration and resource for their personal growth; c) develop interpersonal skills, awareness of civic responsibility, and land stewardship; and d) expand interest and public awareness of urban gardening and gardening with children.
The Washington Youth Garden is a project of the Friends of the National Arboretum with support from the U.S. National Arboretum.
WYG at the U.S. National Arboretum (USNA) is one of several youth gardens created in the mid 1960's to early 1970's by the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation in conjunction with the Washington Youth Garden Council. Their goal was to teach elementary school students in D.C. horticultural skills and life skills such as team building, cooperation, personal responsibility, self-confidence and environmental stewardship. Today, WYG has expanded its environmental education focus to include nutrition and cooking education to promote healthy lifestyles through gardening. Due to D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation budget cuts in 1995, the Friends of the National Arboretum (FONA) increased fundraising efforts and “adopted” the WYG in 1996. In addition to FONA’s assistance, WYG receives in-kind support from USNA including land, soil amendments, office and greenhouse space, equipment use and horticultural expertise.
Proud to be celebrating its 40th year, the Washington Youth Garden provides a unique year-round environmental science and food education program for local youth and families. To this end WYG facilitates its four signature programs - Garden Science, SPROUT, Seed To Supper and Growing Food...Growing Together. Moreover, the WYG has grown into a premiere urban demonstration and production garden serving as a favorite destination for the local community, educators, special interest groups, urban planners and countless local, national and international visitors.
Staff Contact Information
Anna Benfield, Education Programs Manager
Charla Wanta, Development & Communications Manager
Visit our blog to learn more about our programs and special events and to experience them and the garden in real time.
Nadia Mercer, Garden Manager