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Engagement, Outreach, & Education

Introduction: 

Public gardens serve as the ultimate outdoor classrooms. As open spaces, wildlife habitat, and plant biodiversity continue to dwindle, public gardens have become powerful educational tools that underscore the importance of sustainable initiatives, strengthening the resolve to reverse this trend so future generations have the opportunity to explore, study, and learn from the natural world. As the human population continues to grow alongside urbanization, it is even more important for public gardens to communicate the value of plant conservation and inspire the broadest audience possible.

The Social Engagement, Outreach, and Education Attribute focuses on cultivating strong connections between public gardens and their local community and region. With that mission in mind, public gardens can engage communities in ways that can help increase plant biodiversity, support cultural resilience and community health, manage resources and waste, and promote safer and healthier living spaces.

 

UN Sustainable Development Goal 4:

Despite progress, the world failed to meet the Millennium Development Goal of achieving universal primary education by 2015. In 2013, the latest year for which data are available, 59 million children of primary-school age were out of school. Estimates show that, among those 59 million children, 1 in 5 of those children had dropped out and recent trends suggest that 2 in 5 of out-of-school children will never set foot in a classroom. The Sustainable Development Goals clearly recognize that this gap must be closed, even as the international community more explicitly addresses the challenges of quality and equity.

 

Goals:

  1. Understand and know your regional demographic audiences (who they are, where they live, and what they are concerned about - environmentally, socially, economically, and otherwise).

  2. Fully engage with a broad and diverse audience, making inclusiveness and accessibility core to your strategic plan and mission.

  3. Identify valued and relevant topics of sustainability in your region and include educational programming that addresses them (e.g. food systems in agricultural regions, water in drought prone regions, and climate adaptation).

  4. Implement and evaluate educational programming that successfully changes behavior; communities, visitors, and staff become proactive in emulating plant conservation and green infrastructure strategies, particularly those that can benefit the whole community.

  5. Increase community and regional participation in educational programming, identifying demographics that have not previously visited or participated in educational programming and events. Develop methods to identify any barriers to participation. 

 

 

1. Investigate and Establish a Baseline 

2. Identify Stakeholders 

3. Data Collection/Resources

4. Develop and Implement a Plan of Action 

5. Evaluate and Maintain Success 

6. Report, Communicate, Educate

7. Resources and Case Studies 

 

 

 

 

1. Investigate and Establish a Baseline

 

Use the Engagement, Outreach, Education Self-audit worksheet for the self-audit and use it to further track your planning decisions (see Develop and Implement a Plan of Action section below).

 

Its important to understand your regional demographic audience and their environmental concerns. Identifying who is currently visiting your garden can help give your garden direction in strategizing and deciding future goals to achieve better social engagement and educational programming. A key part to this step is establishing a foundation and internal structure that will support the diversity, equity, and inclusion (See Employee Development, Diversity, & Inclusion) process before your garden goes on to create new education and outreach programming. In building this foundation, it is crucial that staff and decision makers understand and agree on definitions of diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as its importance to the garden’s future.

 

To truly affect sustainable change in your organization, the garden’s commitment to diversity and inclusion must be reflected in the garden’s mission, vision, values, as well as its culture and structure. This can be a daunting change to many, and it can be tempting to start smaller by simply throwing an event on an ethnic holiday in order to target a certain audience, for example. However, without understanding where your organization currently stands on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion, well-intentioned gestures can lack sincerity, authenticity, and sustainability. In order to adequately measure, evaluate, and develop a plan that addresses your gardens social engagement and educational programming the following questions should be considered to understand the values of your region and establish a baseline.

 

UNDERSTANDING YOUR REGION

 

  • Has your garden identified your regional demographic audience (consider methodology used and sources used to make them representative and accurate)?

  • Has your garden identified environmental topics that are valued within your community?

  • Has your garden developed interpretive programming on climate change and sustainable development in terms that resonate with your community and the issues they face?

  • Does your staff seek out professional development resources to augment knowledge on relevant social and environmental issues your community faces?

  • Does your community value your garden as a community resource, public space, and educational space?

  • Does your garden anticipate changes in demographics and values to ensure underrepresented communities are served?

  • Does your garden ensure all members of your community feel welcome and comfortable in the garden?

  • Does your garden evaluate whether public engagement strategies and offerings are equitable so that all community neighborhoods have access to training and development (e.g., ensuring location of events are accessible and services and cost of programs are equitable)?

 

EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMMING & OUTREACH

 

It is not expected that every garden have all of these types of programming, but rather this is an inventory of the types of programs that are often found at gardens and it can be a goal to add new programs as possible.

 

  • Does your garden offer programs that help children, families, and teachers learn about growing vegetables, fruits, and herbs sustainably (e.g., sustainable agriculture)?

  • Does your garden website offer webinars, demonstration videos, or online programs and resources for learning about horticulture, plant conservation, and restoration ecology?

  • Does your garden address climate change literacy in any educational programming?

  • Does your garden offer any green certification programs, mentorship programs, leadership trainings, or landscape professional training opportunities?

  • Does your garden offer home school opportunities?

  • Does your garden provide formal and informal educational programs?

  • Does your garden offer urban horticulture programs (e.g., green roofs) for students or adults?

  • Does your garden offer programming specific to children’s education (e.g., plant heroes, junior ranger program)?

  • Does your garden have any plant exploration, plant exchange, or seed saver exchange programs in place? For example:

https://www.arboretum.harvard.edu/plants/plant-exploration/

https://www.chicagobotanic.org/collections/plant_exploration

http://www.seedsavers.org/mission 

  • Does your garden offer grade-specific programs correlated to state objectives such as STEM?

  • Does your garden provide hands-on training or have demonstration gardens so visitors can emulate best practices at home?

  • Does your garden offer programs for families or multi-generational participants?

  • Does your garden offer programs for participants who do not speak English?

  • Does your garden offer after school programs or clubs to regional schools?

  • Does your garden host any garden classes, workshops, or lectures on a variety of environmental conservation-related topics?

  • Does your garden train volunteers, docents, and staff on an on-going basis to improve interpretive programming (walks, tours) and personal interaction with visitors?

 

Resources:

http://www.aesa.us/conferences/2013_ac_presentations/Continuum_AntiRacist.pdf

http://www.aecf.org/resources/race-matters-organizational-self-assessment/

https://racc.org/wpcontent/uploads/buildingblocks/foundation/Diversity%20Toolkit%20from%20the%20Mississippi%20Arts%20Commission.pdf

 

 

2. Identify Stakeholders

 

Just as landscapes change over time so too will your garden’s stakeholders. To reach a broad audience in your region and to achieve a mission of inclusiveness for plant conservation your garden will need to continuously evolve and understand your regional demographic audience and how to maintain community involvement in sustainable initiatives. It’s important to identify and evaluate who is involved in social engagement and educational programming decisions. Community-based projects have an increased chance of success when all stakeholders feel that they can contribute to the solution and benefit from the results. Consider the following definitions and questions when identifying stakeholders:

 

Internal stakeholders: Those committed to serving your organization (board members, staff, volunteers, donors)

 

  • Does your garden organize diverse staff teams to improve the quality and innovation of educational programming and outreach?

  • Does your garden have multiple departments involved in the on-going development of diverse educational programming including community representatives, and other stakeholders that could increase visitation and participation?

  • Has your gardens development process resulted in equitable recruitment, retention, advancement, and a pervasive feeling of inclusion in educational programming?

  • Does your garden’s organizational strategic planning involve tactics dedicated to education and external outreach?

  • Does your garden have a diversity of perspectives to help eliminate bias when assessing and evaluating educational programming and outreach?

 

External stakeholders: Those impacted and committed to the organization’s work (clients, constituents, community partners, others).

 

  • Does your garden work with other local sustainability and climate action groups on educational programming and outreach in your region?

  • Does your garden partner with or fund programs associated with local colleges and universities for internships, field trips, projects/assignments, research opportunities, tours, or special membership? 

  • Does your garden collaborate with community leaders and clubs, city officials, local environmental groups/organizations, local government agencies on any neighborhood beautification and green infrastructure projects?

  • Does your garden partner with environmental non-profits or government agencies on educational programming initiatives? For example, the Association’s partnership with the USDA APHIS: https://publicgardens.org/programs/plant-protection-program

  • Does your garden collaborate or share information with other gardens or conservation organizations in your region on educational programming (e.g., program exchange)? 

 

 

3. Data Collection/Resources

 

The data collection process will require clear communication to participants of what your garden hopes to understand and support with qualitative and quantitative data. This data will be used to further the garden’s greater goals or mission. Data collection must be targeted and can exist in several forms, resulting in identification of needed resources to make well-informed action decisions. Data collection is crucial in engaging stakeholders and forming a plan of action.

 

REGIONAL DEMOGRAPHICS COLLECTION– BEST PRACTICES

Demographic data collection is an important part of working towards engaging diverse communities. In order to tailor your programming to engage underrepresented constituents, attract a broad audience, or build trust with certain communities, you must first understand the demographics of your region. This can be done through both primary and secondary data. Sources of primary data include surveys, polls, town hall meetings, or individual/group interviews with community members. Secondary data could include previously gathered demographics or statistics, as well as summaries of prior workshops, meetings, or interviews. When designing surveys for regional demographics collection, it’s important to be flexible and allow for feedback, and opportunities for survey change. Each region and community is different, and they will each have their own priorities, challenges, identities, and conflicts. Allowing for people’s identities and personal experiences will result in more meaningful data for programming and educational purposes.

 

A clear objective for demographics collection will communicate the importance and necessity of the research to all participants, as well as identify possible actions as a result of the research. Here is an example:

 

“ABC Botanical Gardens would like to add new programs and events to connect with our diverse community (you!). Possible additions include grandparent/child play dates, cultural holidays and events, after school programs, garden tours, and culinary workshops. In order to create these programs, ABC Botanical Gardens requires information on the demographics of our members, visitors, and community members so that it can tailor its programs and events to your needs!”

 

Questions for your garden to ask itself:

 

  • Does your community trust your garden as an impartial educator? (Determine through surveying).

  • Has your garden researched successful strategies at other similar institutions for collecting data on social engagement?

  • Has your garden created a clear statement of objectives to communicate the purpose and goals of your data collection?

  • Has your garden created a plan to share data collected with external audiences?

  • Has your garden reached out to local organizations, government, and other institutions that might have already collected regional demographics?

  • Has your garden run your survey questions and objectives by a diversity and inclusion committee or consultant?

 

SECONDARY DATA SOURCES

Collecting demographic data can be a large undertaking for a garden that is challenged with resource or financial restrictions. An alternative to collecting demographic data is to use secondary data sources of demographic data. Government-based data such as census information is widely available and can be narrowed down to county and region. Other nonprofits, such as health care, social services, and community organizations may have demographic data, as well as survey and interview data with local residents. Additionally, cultural nonprofits such as museums and art galleries may have performed research on audience, visitorship, and membership, with thought to accessibility, relevance, and barriers. While these may not be as geographically relevant to your area, the concepts and themes they represent will be helpful for garden programming. 

 

4. Develop and Implement a Plan of Action

 

 

Just as data collection should be goal driven, the action-planning process must also help your garden identify the important criteria for action decisions. Financial oversight includes matching action steps to existing resources and developing realistic timelines. Consider how to continue to cultivate buy-in and demonstrated engagement from the most influential staff members who have been part of all steps in the process.

Another consideration is how the intended audience will be engaged and involved in the plan of action, especially if targeting a previously underrepresented audience. Things to think about include what connections you have to that community, if there is a community member who can act as a volunteer or (paid) part-time or contract outreach officer/liaison, and ways that the community can be involved in all aspects of the action plan. This includes financial oversight such as sourcing community partners and suppliers, marketing and advertising to specific audiences (in additional languages if necessary), and consulting with community stakeholders.

      

GOALS & OBJECTIVES

Create goals with a specific timeframe in your development plan to procure funding for underrepresented demographics in your region that are interested in your educational programming, but lack funding or accessibility to your property. Identify members of your staff responsible for the growth and development of educational programs targeted at these demographics. Hire or train employees to work with the community to develop appropriate programming, develop marketing and communication strategies, and determine current and future resources (staff, outside instructors, budget, space, materials and equipment, volunteers etc.) needed to successfully implement programs.

 

Create objectives with a specific result in mind for whatever program or event you are planning. Is the objective to gain new membership from X community? Or is the objective to advertise to a millennial audience? These objectives can be defined in partnership with community groups, nonprofit organizations, or other partners, especially if the objective involves reaching out to underrepresented audiences. This is also where previous surveys and assessment on garden visitorship or audience perspective can come into play: are you aiming to change the image of the garden? Are you aiming to make the space more welcoming for a specific group?

 

Sample goals and objectives:

  • Improve the public perception of the garden’s education programming by holding more family friendly events

  • Increase awareness of the garden and environmental issues in urban schools through outreach programming

  • Support and build on a partnership with a local community organization by using local vendors, businesses, artists, and cultural practitioners in your next event

  • Support a specific education initiative by offering a free tour or program for public school students

  • Address a specific community concern through a research project

  • Enhance the visitor experience by incorporating technology such as touch screens for general information, audio tours, and adding service for mobile phones to post photos to social media

  • Promote seasonal events and educational program offerings through marketing campaigns on the garden website, newsletter, or through conservation partnerships

 

ENGAGING DIVERSE AUDIENCES

Many gardens are targeting underrepresented constituents as they create new programming and events. Some of this information can be found through demographic research, surveys, and focus groups. Other sources of information exist in museum and cultural nonprofit studies, which have examined various underrepresented communities and their relationships to museums. For example, Cecilia Garibay’s “Using Research to Better Engage Diverse Cultural Communities” consulted with informal learning organizations to survey ethnic communities that do not traditionally engage in museums and cultural institutions. Using focus groups, the study focused on Latino families, and discovered that families preferred to spend their leisure time on activities that promoted family unity and provided relaxation as well as educational merit. The families interviewed perceived museums as valuable and educational spaces, but found them limiting in their behavioral rules and lack of cultural relevance, preferring science centers and zoos with opportunities for free play and exploration. They also did not feel welcome or visually represented in staff or advertising, and appreciated bilingual text as it was easier to understand, and acknowledged that their community was welcome.

 

Gardens that have identified communities where the language is not predominately English should strive to provide detailed information on food, parking, fees, rules of the garden, and educational panels and brochures in bilingual forms so that first time visitors might feel more comfortable and have a stronger connection to the garden. Some gardens could also engage the community through local organizations that serve, for example, Latino families.
 

When looking to engage diverse ethnic communities, it is important to remember that there is a lot of difference and variation within ethnicity, race, and cultural communities. The Latino community for example, could be from Mexico, South America, or Central America. They could be recently immigrated, or primarily second generation with young families. It’s crucial to understand your specific segment, gather direct input from the community if possible, and not make assumptions or generalizations based on race and ethnicity.

 

Some gardens offer family admission passes (2 adults and 2 children) to Title I schools to coincide with schools breaks (winter, spring, summer). Specifically targeting schools in underserved areas is one way to reach targeted audiences. For gardens that charge admission, offering free admission days to broaden reach to low-income families and individuals is also a good way to increase accessibility. An example of increasing accessibility to new audiences is Denver Botanic Gardens free shuttle program committed to engaging varied audiences in meaningful and sustained ways, while at the same time introducing arts and culture through programs both onsite and in surrounding communities. Through a grant from the Clinton Family Fund, Denver Botanic Gardens Go2Gardens community shuttle provides free admission and transportation between various Denver metro area cultural organizations, community centers and residences to Denver Botanic Gardens York Street and Chatfield Farms.

 

SURVEYING-BEST PRACTICES

When writing demographic survey questions, consider the information that your organization might need now, and in the future. Common questions include age/age range, race/ethnicity, gender, ability, income bracket, and employment status. Other questions can include sexual orientation, veteran status, educational background, Indigenous status, etc., depending on the data your garden wants to collect. Most statistics and demographics guides recommend using standard parameters for collecting data, but also to allow for write-in options under “other”. This is especially important for achieving accurate and meaningful statistics in race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and ability, as individuals may not identify with standard options in the survey. As well, where possible, allow for self-reporting rather than labelling. Identities are complex, human bias is natural, and it is easy for labelers to make incorrect assumptions.

 

Also, anonymity is key in achieving honest results, as well as protecting identities. Group together labels that only have one or two respondents, for example if only two people answer “transgender”, and one person answers “non-binary” in a demographics survey question on gender identity, the three can be grouped together into “transgender/non gender conforming.” Considering current cultural and social issues, remember and respect that individuals may not be comfortable giving data such as gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, or religion, despite best intentions of the organization and assured anonymity. Do not force participation of each question, and allow for participants to “prefer not to answer,” as this ties in with building trust in your regional communities.

 

ENGAGING DIVERSE COMMUNITIES IN ENVIRONMENTAL TOPICS

It’s easy to make the assumption that certain communities are disinterested or uninformed about environmental issues, but it is a mistake to base programming on these (often false) assumptions. In the planning stage, it’s important to engage people in their stories to understand what they already know and can contribute. Using stories and narratives are a great way to connect diverse communities with the garden, and acknowledging the contributions and prior knowledge of the community. By identifying assets as well as areas of improvement, facilitating new collaborations, and being open to creative and holistic projects, a garden may be better equipped to develop long-term environmental projects with community buy-in.

 

When planning programs that are environmentally focused, it is beneficial to reach out to local consultants, colleges, or universities for research and data collection purposes. Other external resources include the USA National Phenology Network (see Nature’s Notebook Program), as well as government and regional plans on climate change topics, though it is recommended to translate these plans into easily accessible multimedia such as PowerPoint presentations or posters. This can then lead to ways for visitors to become involved in data collection processes, such as citizen science plant identification, pollinator projects, seed collections, and plant labelling.

 

 

5. Evaluate/Revise/Monitor and Maintain Success

 

Evaluation can be one of the most challenging parts of implementing a program - gardens that are short on staff, resources, or time may not feel like they have the time to properly evaluate an event or educational program. However, evaluation tools are available for all levels of resource and assessment, and this section is intended to help your garden determine what is best for the site, providing guidance where goals were not achieved in order to revise the plan, research, and take further action.

 

Before the event or program is implemented, it is helpful to have an evaluation plan. This is a proactive way to support future assessment processes by taking some of the guesswork out of the moment. Once an event is finished, the evaluation tools are already in place and simply need to be followed. This will help to simplify the evaluation process, as it can be a challenge to find the time to assess program success post-event. Determine a methodology such as a scorecard rating system or evaluation form for analyzing current and future educational programming. Determine which staff members will be involved in short and long term monitoring, as well as the type of assessment best suited to the program, garden resources, and time allocated. For example, allocating a half hour period the day after an event for an employee to fill out a score card could be one way of quickly writing down feedback. Another example would be to send out surveys to workshop participants post-event, and allow half a day for an employee to read through results and extrapolate future improvements.

 

There are two kinds of information you can collect when evaluating or measuring the success of a program: quantitative and qualitative.

Quantitative feedback takes the form of numbers and statistics, and is best suited to simple questions and surveys spread out through a large group. For example, an annual event with over ten thousand visitors offers an opportunity to distribute a ten-minute online survey, where visitors can rate their experience. Other examples of quantitative feedback can appear in satisfaction surveys (rate your satisfaction on a scale from 1 – 4); analyzing guest services data from ticket sales, tracking social media postings and comments, and other measurable data points.

 

Qualitative feedback is more complicated, and often takes the form of opinion, observation, interviews, narrative, or suggestions. Qualitative feedback is well suited for gauging student learning experiences, observing audience participation, gaining suggestions from visitors on sustainable initiatives, or even gathering opinions about a suggested program through a public forum or meeting.

 

Ideally, quantitative and qualitative feedback are used together to assess the efficacy of a program. Quantitative feedback helps support financial statistics, and provides hard numbers to donors, grant funders, and board members. Qualitative feedback provides a more emotional appeal, and can tell a story of inspiration, creativity, or passion about a specific subject or event. For example, at the end of a 30-person workshop, participants could be asked to fill out an online survey on their satisfaction, as well as submit a short comment about how they enjoyed their experience. They could be enticed by offering a discount off their next workshop, or simply by stating that their feedback helps improve future programming.

 

Conversations and observations are important forms of feedback, and in a situation where there are not enough resources for surveys or questionnaires, can often be the only form of available assessment. Taking notes, transcribing quotes from participants, discussing student engagement with teachers, and observing audience participation are all valid forms of program assessment, providing the information is noted as soon as possible for accuracy and relevance. 

 

Example of different types of evaluation including formative and summative:

https://www.cdc.gov/std/Program/pupestd/Types%20of%20Evaluation.pdf

 

 

6. Report, Communicate, and Educate

 

When gardens identify meaningful accomplishments, they must determine how and what to share in an internal capacity with stakeholders and in an external capacity with the public/target audiences or on a national scale (such as through the Association’s network).

 

Internal communications can include detailed numbers of program participants, feedback on events and educational workshops, and stakeholder updates as different phases of environmental programming are completed. Internal communications can also indicate evaluations on the development of educational programming – who’s being addressed and what is still a target for future programs.

 

External communications can include marketing and advertising for the various educational programs and classes you offer: children’s education, adult education, internships, horticulture therapy, food gardening, etc. They can promote garden events and the ways institutions in your community can register, participate, or attend. This can be achieved through email blasts, posters in community areas, updates from a garden representative at a town hall meeting, or even an advertisement in the local newspaper. It’s important to consider multiple avenues of external communication apart from web content, as not all the audiences you serve will come across them in their everyday lives.

 

Professional communications such as magazines, museum conferences, or public garden networks are a great way to provide examples of regional issues that your garden is addressing, and to link them back to the garden website or other forms of garden communication.

 

Your garden should consider the following communication strategies:

  • Materials showing multi-racial families and other demographics in social media and other marketing platforms.

  • Detailed information on food, parking, fees, rules in other languages (bilingual).

  • Institutional statement to serve diverse communities.

  • Strive to communicate with the public at events and other public forums to advocate for educational opportunities at your garden. Research demonstrates that some new immigrants are most comfortable when museums and other cultural institutions engage them through grassroots efforts in their own community.

  • Communicate and offer free hikes at hiking trails and natural lands for educational sessions on the natural history of the land and for plant exploration. This will help increase access and education to the natural world for the public.

  • Be sure to advertise citizen science opportunities to engage and assist with the inventory of diverse plant, insect, and animals species.  

 

7. Resources and Case Studies 

 

The Association Resources:

https://publicgardens.org/resources/jennifer-schwarz-ballard-chicago-bot...

https://publicgardens.org/resources/across-spectrum-resources-environmental-educators

https://publicgardens.org/resources/environmental-education-brief-guide-us-grantmakers

https://publicgardens.org/resources/unesco-sustainable-development-goals

 
Resources from Botanic Gardens:

 

https://www.nybg.org/learn/

 

http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/learn-discover.aspx

 

https://www.chicagobotanic.org/urbanagriculture

 

Other Resources: 

 

http://saveplants.org/

 

https://naaee.org/

 

http://www.newknowledge.org/

 

http://climateinterpreter.org/about/projects/NNOCCI

 

http://www.betterevaluation.org/en/evaluation-options/stories_of_change

 

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.453.2389&rep=rep1&type=pdf

 

Engaging Diverse Communities in Climate Change Topics

 

RACC Engaging Diverse Audiences

 

 

The Public Gardens Sustainability Index Working Group is made up of diverse field-wide professionals. Does your expertise lie within an Attribute area? Help us build content for Principles and Best Practices. Have success stories? Let us collect your Case Studies. Contact Tommy Rosenbluth: trosenbluth@publicgardens.org

 

Case Study 

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

In its mission, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden highlights the importance of teaching people about plants, ecological awareness, and community beautification. The GreenBridge program, with its self-defined role as “the community environmental horticulture program” of the Garden, has become emblematic of that effort by promoting urban greening and conservation while facilitating creative and productive partnerships. Initiatives included in the GreenBridge program include The Greenest Block in Brooklyn, Brooklyn Urban Gardener, and The Urban Forest.

These strategic priorities are supported by GreenBridge’s new projects: Brooklyn Urban Gardener, Community Gardening Alliance, and the Street Tree Stewardship Initiative. The strategic priorities also guide GreenBridge’s ongoing efforts with the Greenest Block in Brooklyn and Making Brooklyn Bloom.

 

 

University of British Columbia Botanical Garden

The University of British Columbia Botanical Garden features the Sustainable Communities Field School to engage local businesses and organizations with practices to build a greener economy.

The Sustainable Communities Field School combines professional development with sustainability education for groups from local businesses or organizations. All of the activities are designed to enhance team building while teaching participants about local sustainability issues. The day-long program starts with a forest canopy walk  that highlights ecosystems services, which is followed by an obstacle course that demonstrates water as a shared resource. Even lunch has a sustainability message--the meal is catered by a business that features local food and pays its workers a living wage, both of which are then discussed during the session. The day concludes with a coffee cup supply chain activity where participants are asked to work as a team to put together the life cycle of each part of a cup of coffee, including the cup, lid, coffee, and dairy. The group is then asked which parts of the life cycle are affected if certain sustainability decisions are made, such as using fairly traded coffee or switching to organic products.

By marketing the field school towards businesses and organizations, the UBC Botanical Garden hopes to capture people who wouldn’t typically come into the garden or interact with sustainability issues. The team-building exercises can then act as a medium to help groups learn more about each other while also discovering the economic and environmental impacts of their daily decisions. 

 

UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden

After five years of the UC Davis Arboretum’s success in building the GATEways Project (Gardens, Arts, and The Environment), Assistant Vice Chancellor and Arboretum Director Kathleen Socolofsky was asked to lead a new, innovative unit that combined the Arboretum, Grounds & Landscape Services, and the Putah Creek Riparian Reserve into a 21st Century public garden. Through the expertise of the UC Davis Arboretum & Public Garden, the GATEways Project is growing throughout campus and beyond. With the GATEways Project, the Arboretum and Public Garden will continue its work as a national leader in the public garden field, but it will also adopt a new mission: to inform visitors about the important ideas and complex issues UC Davis scientists and scholars are tackling. The Arboretum works with campus and community partners to develop a multi-layered learning experience that use teaching landscapes, public arts, exhibits, digital technologies, and interactions with students to engage and inspire visitors.

The UC Davis GATEways Project is a campus-wide initiative to create an inviting, interactive, and sustainable showcase of UC Davis.

 

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, in their mission to engage people with plants, has partnered with community organizations and local nonprofits in order to extend their outreach programs and offer more educational programs to school children while removing geographical and financial barriers to participation. For over three decades, the Urban Garden Program has provided an experience-based curriculum for urban school children with a focus on science and nutrition. Engaging 200 elementary aged schoolchildren each year, the Urban Garden Program not only captures the interest of young minds, but continues to develop their leadership and entrepreneurial skills in its Youth Employment Program. Created to continue engaging youth in middle and high school, the Youth Employment Program provides garden-based employment to 50 youth each summer through opportunities such as growing and selling produce to local restaurants. In consideration of future education and careers, students can also participate in the Growing to College Program, which takes advantage of the University of Minnesota Campus in order to provide activities that familiarize participants with campus life and the university community.

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum makes use of local nonprofits and community organizations, and through these partnerships is able to establish long-lasting relationships with communities in the area. The Arboretum is then able to provide their expertise and programming, in collaborating with the space and participants provided by the community organization. Organizations that the Arboretum have partnered with include North Point – a medical health and wellness center, the African Development Center – which helps incubate African immigrant businesses, and UROC – the University of Minnesota Urban Outreach Center.

Watch this video to learn more: https://youtu.be/fVPxsiG_Um8