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Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth School Pilot Program: Training Teachers Coast to Coast

Posted by Duke Storen, Director Food and Nutrition Service Office of Strategic Initiatives, Partnerships, and Outreach in Food and Nutrition Initiatives
Apr 26, 2012

A classroom floor becomes a garden as 2nd graders at Hiawatha Elementary in Webster, Iowa decide which of their favorite fruits and vegetables will be planted in their school garden. Gathered in anticipation around a rectangle that represents the actual size of the garden bed, their teacher skillfully guides the planning, helping them consider which plants will thrive in Iowa’s climate, which plants require more or less sun, and which plants will be compatible neighbors.

Along the way, the teacher introduces math concepts – deftly integrating her classroom lessons into a real world experience. Soon the students will be planting this garden for real - just as they have planned it - as will 4,000 other youth in 57 schools in Iowa, Arkansas, New York and Washington participating in Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth (HGHY), a project of the People’s Garden School Pilot Project.

This snapshot is from a series of training videos that help teachers deliver lessons about agriculture and nutrition.
This snapshot is from a series of training videos that help teachers deliver lessons about agriculture and nutrition.

The snapshot above is from a series of training videos that help teachers deliver lessons in planting, maintaining and harvesting gardens; learning about eating fruits and vegetables; and other aspects about working together to use natural resources to grow food.  All lessons, selected after a national search to find the best nutrition and gardening curricula for grades 2 and 4, are aligned with STEM concepts (science, technology, engineering and math) and based on the 4-H Youth Development model of Do – Reflect – Apply.

These videos, along with pre-recorded webinars and other downloadable resources, comprise a comprehensive toolkit designed to train educators in implementing HGHY’s educational components. Developed by the project’s national Content and Delivery Team, the toolkit makes efficient use of technology by providing clear and consistent on-line training for educators from coast to coast.

All webinars and toolkit elements are available on the project’s website for easy access.  Currently, materials on the website are protected for project use, but you can view a sample of training by clicking here. You can also watch this teacher in action, along with other training videos, on YouTube.

Follow the progress of Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth on-line:

Leadership for Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth is provided by Washington State University Extension, in collaboration with the Cooperative Extensions of Cornell University, Iowa State University and University of Arkansas.  The project director, Brad Gaolach, Ph.D. can be reached at

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Apr 27, 2012

Wow, the USDA is encouraging sustainable food? Who knew?

Patricia Nichols
Apr 27, 2012

Are these garden lessons aligned with the Common Core standards that will go into effect in 2014 for the majority of states?

May 02, 2012

Are these Common Core Standards that go into effect in 2014 for the majority of states aligned with CRUTIAL place-based education measures(like schoolyard gardens)in our nations schools? We should demand these programs become the norm in our schools and NOT Pilot Programs!

May 08, 2012

on one hand we encourage children to work the land...on the other hand we consider banning them from farm work until they are 19.