Gardening Benefits the Whole Child
Why are we excited about the growing interest of youth gardening at Texas A&M AgriLife Extension? Because gardening benefits the whole child!! AgriLife Extension in Travis County puts A LOT OF ENERGY into youth gardening with two main programs. First, Capital 4H runs afterschool gardening programs in more than 15 Title I schools. The second is the Master Gardener program which provides resources and mentoring to school garden programs in Travis County.
AgriLife Extension – Horticulture / Travis County Master Gardeners
Travis County Master Gardeners are volunteers for the AgriLife Extension service and can help you assess the site and provide technical training for your volunteers. They can provide consultations about the Junior Master Gardener (JMG) curricula options or free Broccoli to Butterflies School Garden Templates.
Master Gardener speakers available to present a variety of horticulture topics (such as rain water harvesting, composting, vegetable gardening, etc.) to school gardening teams for free. Please complete this request form at least one month in advance.
Within Travis County, they are also available for garden site assessments. Contact TravisMG@ag.tamu.edu for scheduling.
If you just have gardening questions, use the Master Gardener Horticulture Hotline.
Most Travis County Master Gardener events feature some sort of youth activity if you’d just like to see what is possible. Check out the events page to see what is currently scheduled. If you have your own gardening event, consider inviting the Master Gardener Plant Clinic. These volunteers provide gardening information and answer questions at school plant sales and garden events. Contact TravisMGPlantClinics@gmail.com to schedule.
More Youth Gardening Resources
Central Texas School Garden Network (CTSGN)
Another great place to start is with the Central Texas School Garden Network. They have a listserv/google group for anyone affiliated with school gardens. Members of this group include school staff, school admin, school-based organizations, community partner organizations, parents, community members, and more! This group is used as a way to share information and resources with one another related to school gardening in Austin/Central Texas. This is a great place to ask questions about school gardening and to connect with other school garden coordinators in town.
Children in Nature Collaborative of Austin (CiNCA)
For more of a environmental program approach, Children in Nature Collaborative of Austin is a great resource. Their mission is to ignite and fan the flames of the regional movement to reconnect kids to the wonder and joy of the natural world and to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards. To achieve this, the CiNCA brings together schools, service providers, state and local government officials and members of the community with a stake in developing children who are happier, healthier and smarter as a result of being connected to nature and concepts of sustainability on a regular basis. The CiNCA provides a venue for these stakeholder groups to come together and share and seek resources collectively, collaborate more effectively and streamline programmatic efforts.
Partners for Educational Agriculture and Sustainability (PEAS)
PEAS has programs in over 19 schools throughout Travis County. Their mission is to cultivate joyful connection with the natural world through outdoor learning and edible education. Individual lessons are led by PEAS education specialists in partnership with teachers. PEAS specialists design and deliver cross-curricular lessons with a primary focus on science and math, with a secondary focus on language arts, social students, health, and social emotional learning.
Wells Branch Elementary School Garden – video segment from Central Texas Gardener
Texas A&M Research on School Gardening – resource hub for several studies, including Benefits of School Gardens
KinderGARDEN – a website to complement the Nutrition in the Garden study from Texas A&M Research. Great resource for all kinds of activities and ideas.
Cornell University Garden Based Learning – a resource hub that provides Program Tools, Lessons, Citizen Science, Garden Guidance, and online courses.
Junior Master Gardeners – an international youth gardening program of the university cooperative Extension network.
Broccoli to Butterflies School Garden Templates
Start a School Vegetable Garden – presentation by Master Gardener Peggy Hart
KidzAnts Fire ant Curriculum from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension
Making Gardening Easier: Gardening Ideas for Children with Special Needs from OSU Extension
Wildlife Habitat Design Template from the City of Austin Watershed Department