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Children's gardening programs grow environmental stewards
Date:9/29/2008

COLLEGE STATION, TX - A new generation has come of age since the first celebration of Earth Day in 1970. For this and future generations, environmental awareness is an important and burgeoning point of reference.

Today's urban children live in environments that offer little chance for direct contact with natural ecosystems, and often have to depend on sources such as television and educators for information about ecology and nature. Many children grow up without the valuable personal experiences in nature that are essential to developing a true understanding of environmental issues.

Educators are being challenged to create learning experiences that mold subsequent generations of environmental stewards: young people who are capable of making knowledgeable and conscientious decisions regarding the environment. But classroom teachers who make environmental education experiences a priority often lack resources, funding, time, and ideas about ways to integrate environmental education into classroom learning. Getting children involved in hands-on activities is critical, and gardening just may be the answer.

Youth gardening programs are becoming popular experiential vehicles to help children get "down to earth" and promote environmental awareness in communities and schools. Previous studies have indicated that children who participate in formal gardening programs have shown improvements in science achievement, nutritional choices, self-esteem, and patience. Recently, researchers studied the effect of gardening programs on the development of students' environmental consciousness.

O.M. Aguilar, a graduate assistant in the Department of Horticultural Sciences at Texas A&M University and lead author of the study, explained; "The objectives of the study were to examine an interdisciplinary and experiential approach to environmental education by use of a youth gardening program for third through fifth grade students. In addition, this stu
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Contact: Michael W. Neff
mwneff@ashs.org
703-836-4606
American Society for Horticultural Science
Source:Eurekalert

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