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2017 Undergraduate Research Symposium-School Garden Team

Oral Panel Title: “Environmental Education and Environmental Leadership Program – Gumwood Room: Session 3b” Thursday, May 18, 2017
Panel Moderator: Kathryn Lynch
Presentation Title: “School Garden Team: Cultivating Connections: Developing After-School Curriculum for School Gardens”
Presenters: Chelsea Ingram, Bianca Flynn, Kaelin Oppedal, Emily Jenkins, Justin Knowles, Abbey Leonardi, Trisha Maxfield
Environmental education aims to increase students’ awareness of environmental issues, build a foundation of knowledge to comprehend their complexity, and encourage civic engagement. From this framework, our team was organized to pilot a new project within the Environmental Leadership Program (ELP), a service-learning program that pairs undergraduates with community partners. We collaborated with School Garden Project (SGP), a nonprofit organization that supports on-site gardens at K-12 schools within Lane County. As part of their mission, SGP provides garden-based teaching resources to educators in order to increase the usability of on-site gardens. To help them further this goal, our team developed five lesson plans designed for the garden during after-school programs. We implemented our lessons every week for five weeks, and assisted with SGP’s in-school sessions, collectively providing 190 hours of direct community service. After facilitating our lessons, our team spent an additional 280 hours revising and improving our curriculum. Through this iterative process, we were able to develop professional quality lesson plans for SGP to share with their vast community of educators. Our lessons allow students to become more aware of seasonal changes and gain knowledge about the biological processes and features that affect life in the garden (including weather, pollination, habitat, and the reciprocity of edible plants). Students acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to garden for themselves. By increasing the availability of environmental education for students in our community, we are empowering students to cultivate a connection to and sense of responsibility for their environment.