A Garden Variety of Activities Engage Children and Teens
Appreciation for our natural world, its beauty and our
environmental responsibilities grows from engagement, enjoyment and
exploration at an early age. To educate our youth, and to nurture a
sense of world stewardship in the next generation of gardeners,
National Garden Clubs has developed numerous projects directed at
children and teenagers. Community participation in youth programs
is sponsored by local, state, and regional garden clubs, as well as
NGC's youth outreach includes a wide range of activities,
scholarships and contests designed to promote horticulture and a
love of gardening, conservation, sustainability and environmental
stewardship. Several of these popular national programs include
partnerships with such organizations as the U.S. Forest Service and
the Girl Scouts.
A sampling of NGC's youth-directed initiatives includes:
- School Gardening Programs. Garden clubs
across the U.S. assist local schools in establishing gardens to
educate children about nature, horticulture and the environment,
and to nurture an appreciation for plants and gardening.
These gardens become outdoor classrooms that assist
teachers in reinforcing principles of math, science and
nutrition. Among key school initiatives is the
Pollinators Live program, which uses classrooms as
laboratories. The focus of Pollinators Live is to directly engage
students and teachers in creating diverse school gardens that
incorporate native plants to attract bees, butterflies,
hummingbirds and other native pollinators.
- Youth Gardening Programs - NGC encourages its
clubs to provide educational opportunities for youth at the
pre-school, elementary, middle and high school level. The
scope of programs by clubs includes Youth Garden Clubs,
after-school enrichment programs, school classrooms presentation,
nursery school programs, and collaborations with youth
organizations such as Scouts, 4-H etc.
- Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl Poster
Contests. Children across the nation participate in
these popular annual conservation-related projects, which are
sponsored in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service.
- College Scholarships. This initiative offers
financial aid to students majoring in fields of study related to
horticulture and the environment. NGC awards more than 30
- Scouting Patches. Another outstanding NGC project
is the cooperative effort with scouting organizations to promote
the use of native plants while teaching gardening basics. To earn a
National Garden Clubs Girl Scout Native Plants Patch,
scouts study native plants in their home areas and establish beauty
spots in their communities.
- Poetry and Essay Contests - These annual
competitions provide a way for students to express their love of
nature and concern for their environment through prose.
Teachers can utilize this contest to reinforce creative writing
skills. Each year, a $1,000 NGC Scholarship is awarded to the
national winner of the High School Essay Contest.
- Youth Sculpture Contest - In this competition,
students can showcase their artistry and creativity to show their
environmental awareness by forming a sculpture using recyclable
- High School Distinguished Service Project Award.
Annual awards of $100 for first place and $50 for second place are
awarded to high school students for outstanding civic projects in
such areas as the environment, conservation, landscape,
horticulture, recycling or garden therapy.