396 Children's Gardens in Which to Learn and Grow—A Service/Learning Project

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  • 1 Dept. of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, 360 Ag. Hall, Oklahoma State Univ., Stillwater, OK 74078-6027

The purpose of a service/learning project is two-fold: to gain skill in one's area of study and simultaneously to provide service to an unrelated community. This project provided such an educational opportunity for our Horticulture and Landscape Architecture students by providing the mechanism for them to develop and practice their skills of garden design, presentation, installation, and maintenance, while also providing a service to Oklahoma's fifth grade teachers and their students. Through their service, our students gained insight into the creation of public gardens, specifically ones for children. This project created a template through which elementary educators could then work with their communities to develop children's gardens at their schools. Our students presented gardening ideas via slides to fifth grade classes, geographically distributed throughout Oklahoma, and then surveyed them for their input into a garden designed for and by children. The survey accessed the needs and dreams of both the fifth grade students and their teachers. The children's and teachers' desires, as expressed in the surveys, were incorporated into garden designs by our students. A prototype of one of the children's gardens was then installed at the Oklahoma Gardening studio grounds with the help of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture students, OBGA Ambassadors (a group of horticulturally trained volunteers from the Greater Stillwater Community), and Oklahoma elementary school teachers, who sought to gain experience in garden installation in order to create a children's garden at their own schools. The processes, from conception through design and installation, and finally utilization for elementary education, were videotaped and incorporated into a “how-to” video and fact sheet, produced and made available through the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service (OCES).

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